Fighting Anxiety With Gratitude

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Mom, daughter, sister, aunt, wife, entrepreneur, co-worker, ministry leader, friend…

We women wear many hats. And the constant juggle between them all puts many demands on our time and focus. With so much competing for our attention, it’s easy to find ourselves being anxious.

A job interview…

Tension in a marriage…

An unexpected financial crisis…

A child coming down with an illness…

Talking in front of an audience…

….all anxiety evoking situations. And while it’s completely natural to have some anxiety in these situations, anxiety left unchecked can wreak havoc on all areas of your life.

Manifestations of Anxiety

Have you ever noticed how your body responds when you are feeling anxious? Physical symptoms such as rapid heartbeat, increase in breathing, headache, trouble sleeping, sweating, and upset stomach are common.

Mentally it shows up in our lives as difficulty concentrating, looming fear or dread, irritability, and inability to quiet our minds.

Fighting An Anxious Heart With Gratitude

Recent studies show a positive impact of gratitude on the mind and body. Participants reported fewer symptoms, improved sleep, more optimistic attitudes, along with being able to offer more emotional support to others.

God’s Word has a lot to say about anxiety as well. Philippians 4:6-7 tells us,

Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

Simple Ways to Cultivate Gratitude

So how can you begin cultivating more gratefulness in your life? While there are many options, we can first look to God’s Word for instructions. The verses mentioned in Philippians highlight two strategies for combating anxiety.

    1. Prayer and Petition – you are not alone in your struggles. God wants you to bring your worries to him in prayer.  You are his daughter, and he longs to hear from you. When faced with troubles, it’s easy for us to want turn and grumble to others about the situation but Philippians reminds us to present our request to God.

      At times, we can feel like we don’t know what to say to God. I’m convinced that we often overcomplicate prayer. I love how  Kelly O’Dell Stanley puts in her book Designed to Pray: Creative Ways to Engage With God.  She says “prayer is successful when you do it. Period.” Have you fallen prey to the lie that your prayers aren’t good enough or that you need to do it like your sister-friend?
    2. Thanksgiving – although our calendars mark a specific day as Thanksgiving, the giving of thanks is not relegated to this one day. Each day presents opportunities to practice gratitude.
      You know those moments when you plan a quick run into the store only to discover there’s just one cashier with an extra long line. Rather than complain, take the time to thank God for the cashier and pray for her family. Or the next time your cell phone needs a charge, thank God for access to technology. We each can choose to turn life’s uncomfortable moments into thankfulness.Begin or end your day with thanking God for who is or what he has done in your life.

    Other Ways to Incorporate Gratitude

    Journaling – Keep a gratitude journal and write down things that have gone well or the blessings for which you are thankful.  Use your 5 senses to dial into the many things you have to be grateful. You can use the prompt, “I’m grateful that I’m able to hear…” to generate a list of 3-4 things you can hear now.  You might include things such as the sound of birds chirping, the pitter patter of little feet, or running water.


    Take a Walk God’s handiwork is all around us. Take some time to get out in your neighborhood noting the various plants, animals, and insects you see. Thank and praise God for his many creations.

    Create a Gratitude Jar – Each day write down one thing you are thankful for on a slip of paper and put into your gratitude jar. At the end of the month or year, you will have a jar of remembrance in which you can read through.

    Your gratitude jar can be a simple empty container or a special count your blessings jar.

How to fight against anxiety

  1. Thank Others – One of the quickest and easiest ways to feel thankful is to thank someone. Make it a point to show others you appreciate them by writing thank you notes, expressing thanks verbally, sending a quick text, or mailing a surprise card.

    When we choose to move our attention from the things that cause us worry or concern to intentionally looking for the good around us, we just may discover that things are not so bad after all.  Although the practice of cultivating gratitude may not come easy at first, it certainly worth the effort.

    Your Turn

    How do you practice gratitude in your life? What one strategy do you plan to take action on today?

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Comments

  1. Wonderful ideas! My two favorites that work well for me is journaling and taking a walk. Something I have learned is that being thankful puts the crises in my life in their proper perspective.

    • Hi Marcie, thanks for sharing what has worked well for you. Journaling consistently is something I need to get back to doing. Have a great week ahead!

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