By LaBrena Friend, LMSW
It seems hard to believe that we have been consumed by the COVID-19 crisis for almost a year now! Most of us are still talking, reading and thinking about the coronavirus and, now, the vaccines every single day. One year in, it's hard to escape or focus on anything else, and yet, focusing on something so frightening can have a negative impact on mental health.
How can we combat this? Research shows that expressing gratitude on a regular basis can help you feel more optimistic, help ease feelings of anxiety/uncertainty, and help build your resiliency for future challenges. On days when you are feeling down, taking time to remember the things for which you can be grateful can adjust your attitude and perspective. Simply put, gratitude is an effective coping strategy. However, practicing gratitude doesn’t always come easy; that’s why it’s called a practice.
Here are a few tips to help get you started:
-Write a thank you note, text or email expressing your gratitude to a loved one, friend or a coworker for what their presence means to you.
-Create a gratitude journal. Each day, aim for writing down five things for which you are grateful. Include small, everyday blessings like having cream for your morning coffee, as well as more profound gifts such as your good health or that of your loved ones. Can’t think of five? Start with one or two and watch your list grow over time!
-Create visual reminders. Post a sticky note where you will see it every day reminding you to focus on the positive and seek gratitude throughout your day. Your note might look like this: “Slow down. Count your blessings. Be thankful!”
-Reframe negative thoughts. For example, if you find yourself thinking, “Why are there ALWAYS dirty dishes in the sink?”, try shifting the message to gratitude that you and your family have plenty of food to eat.
Practicing gratitude turns our attention to what we have rather than what we don’t-- magically shifting our hearts and our minds to the positive.
If you are having a hard time dealing with feelings of anxiety/uncertainty or dealing with any other emotional issue, counseling from CJFS may help. CJFS offers individual and group therapy for people of all ages -- in person, by phone or via video apps such as FaceTime and Zoom. Insurance is accepted. To learn more, contact Clinical Director Marcy Morgenbesser, firstname.lastname@example.org or 205.879.3438.