I’m definitely prone to waves of anxiety. Normally I can keep things in check (thanks to the endless number of self help books I consume…), but this weekend after a particular trying downward spiral, I decided to try something new- a gratitude journal. Truth be told this was Brandon’s idea, and even though I’d read about them before (namely here), I’d never put the practice into place. But that all changed on Sunday. I took a small journal I had lying around and placed it beside my bed. I decided that each night, right before bed, I’d jot down three or more things I was grateful for- whatever came to mind. I’m three nights in, and so far so good. I’ve found it helpful to be specific, so instead of just writing I’m grateful for “my health,” writing that I’m grateful for “my really good eyesight.” I also try to keep it a bit light and fun- making a point to appreciate things like the amazing tomato sandwiches I’ve been having for lunch in August or the after dinner walks we take to the Williamsburg waterfront. Hmmm… what do they call that stuff? Oh yeah… the small things, Clara! I’m workin’ on it, and this journal is so easy to do everyday, I really think I can make it stick.

Do you have anxiety? Any simple tips for keeping those feelings at bay? Let’s dish.

Image via DesignLoveFest, via Starfetti Tumblr

  1. Congratulations Clara on discovering the benefits of gratitude journaling. It is a great way to change your perspective on things. Isn’t it amazing how your focus shifts from worrying what will be to living in the present moment and seeing what you already have?

    • Clara

      Yes! The shift in focus is incredible- I’m really trying to stay present in that shift.

  2. Thanks for the candid post :)
    I find that running is the best “medicine” for me, but I also like to remind myself of the little things that go well in my every day life - keeps it all in perspective! Gratitude journal sounds like a great idea.

    hope you’re feeling better…

    • Clara

      Thanks, Lauren! I’m big on exercise, too. Anything that gets me intensely sweating totally frees my mind.

  3. Love a gratitude journal. I’ve struggled with intense anxiety in the past. The most helpful thing for me is meditation, or quiet time. It’s something I look forward to now-lighting a candle, etc. Something about a ritual like that is comforting to me. Hugs to you. xo

    • Clara

      I’ve thought frequently about trying meditation, Kelsie. How did you get into it? There have been times where I started the day just sitting on the floor breathing after getting out of bed, but it was a little hard to make that stick. Any recommendations on getting started?

  4. Carmen

    I find that physical activity is helpful. Running or even just a couple of power squats, jumping jacks, whatever. Another great anxiety reliever is putting on high heel shoes and dancing in my apartment. On another note, i find that it helps to remember that anxiety ebbs and flows. When I’m in the grips of it I try to keep the perspective that this is not the real me. I am strong and capable and that helps me cope.

    • Clara

      I’m all about an impromptu apartment dance party! And you’re so right on how anxiety ebbs and flows- I definitely remind myself of that next time I’m in the thick of it :)

  5. Cm

    After my last serious bout with anxiety I decided to start a blog. I first began writing pages and pages in a journal then decided I should blog. It helps me visualize my moods and thoughts, my ups and downs so that I can pinpoint what upsets me or causes me to feel overly anxious. I have to say it helps.

    I have been told to start a gratitude journal as well but I never got around to it. Maybe now is the time!

    Thanks for the great post.

    • Clara

      Cm- I love that third sentence, how the blog helps you visualize your mood and thoughts in order to best deal with them- truly beautiful! xx

  6. Lauren

    Hi, Clara: I have to comment. I kept a gratitude journal and did the program outlined in the book “Magic” by Rhonda Byrne; a 28-day program centered on gratitude and bringing abundance and joy into your life. I’ve learned that when you are practicing gratitude life just IS better. I practiced gratitude diligently during the most difficult year of my life and it made the journey easier and life’s lessons clearer. Sadly, I have to admit, I have become complacent and am not practicing gratitude on a daily basis. I thank my food everyday and am sure to express my gratitude for to others openly, but I have failed to keep up on my private journal. And you know what, things are more difficult. The lows are lower. Strange!? Not at all. Proof of the power of gratitude! So, I am going to reread Magic and take the 28-day journey again, this time with the appreciation that is necessary to imprint the practices into my daily life. Also, I’m going to indulge in this little journal:
    On a final note, I LOVE Channeling Contessa! I am VERY GRATEFUL to you, Sarah and Lauren contributions and for putting out one of my absolute favorite blogs!! Take care.

    • Clara

      Lauren! I’m so glad you commented and thank you so much for sharing your story. It definitely inspires me to keep going with the journal. Have you heard of the book “May Cause Miracles”? It’s about the power of a subtle shift in your perspective. That’s on my to read list. And lastly, I am so delighted you’re such a fan of CC- we put so much work into this blog and are delighted to hear when people love it. So thank you! xx

      • Lauren

        Thanks for the suggestion. I will certainly check out “May Cause Miracles.” Reading books like this helps me stay on track and serve as great motivators; positive and life affirming ways to spend free or down time! Keep up the good work and I’ll keep reading for sure!

    • Clara

      Thanks, Kate! xx

  7. This is a really good idea. I should definitely try it soon! I struggle a lot with anxiety, but I find that separating life and work really helps, and remembering why I do everything that I do! Anxiety isn’t nearly talked about in blogging the way that it should be, so I definitely applaud you for sharing this with us. Sending good thoughts your way, and know that you are not alone! xoxo

  8. I have to second what Lauren says about “Magic,” and all of Rhonda Byrnes books. I’ve suffered from anxiety for several years now. At times it’s been so severe, I’ve had chest pains. Like Cm said, too, it really helped me when I started to note what was bringing it on. If I can realize that, I can put start the little ritual I’ve created to stave it off. Being grateful for the everyday things has made me so much more focused on what I have and the beauty in my life than on the things that are making me anxious. Good luck with all everything you are doing.

  9. Pingback: Life Lately | August 16th | | Channeling Contessa

  10. Hi Clara, a gratitude journal sounds like a great idea. I posted something similar on my blog a couple of months ago - http://globalgirlbkk.wordpress.com/2013/03/19/counting-my-blessings/

    I found that even listing things that I was thankful for that day really helped me feel better. I think I’m going to steal your idea for a gratitude journal though because I think doing it each night is probably cumulative and it would also be helpful to be able to look back when things aren’t going so great.

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