Anxious about your job, your health, the state of the economy? Join the crowd. To varying degrees, worry has always been with us. We have all been guilty of fretting about small and large issues, real and imagined. When you consider the uncertainty of the last few years, it’s no wonder people are anxious. The world is worrisome. News and social media are dominated by economic uncertainty, the pandemic, racial injustice, political divisiveness, and doom.
According to a poll conducted this year for the American Psychological Association, 76% of participating adults reported that stress negatively affects their mental and physical wellbeing, such as eating and sleeping habits, ability to enjoy life, and job performance. A whopping 27% noted that, at times, they are so anxious, they can’t function. Americans continue to experience an uptick in stress compared to pre-pandemic levels, and according to the poll, most people are concerned about money issues. While excessive stress is physically and mentally harmful, it is the external stressors beyond our personal control that are the most difficult to address, primarily because we have no control over them.
There are, however, ways you can shift the emphasis away from your anxieties whether the stresses are in your control or not. Research on the impact of positive thinking has proven that when people focus on what’s good in their lives, they feel happier and are more resilient/able to deal with adversity. When gratitude is coupled with action, you have a powerful antidote to anxiety. The actions may be as simple as mindful breathing exercises and redirecting your thoughts to setting and acting on specific goals that will move you forward.
Here are three tips to get you started:
- Practice gratitude in thought: Your reality begins with the words you tell yourself, so each day, be mindful of what you are thankful for—especially when you feel overwhelmed by worry. Instead of dwelling on your stresses, redirect your thoughts to that for which you are grateful.
- Practice gratitude in deed: Be thankful to those around you and tell them! Managers who thank employees feel better and get better results because people are motivated to do well when they are appreciated. (This goes for family and friends too.)
- Take control when you can: The single, most-empowering thing you can do to stave off anxiety is to act even if it is one small step forward. Attack your biggest anxiety by determining what steps you can take to lessen its impact. For instance, worried about finances? Reduce spending or improve your earnings by asking for a raise, adding to your skill set, or looking for a new job.
Anxiety may always be with us, but we can manage the harm it causes by actively working to keep gratitude at the forefront.
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