I often ask my clients who are experiencing anxiety in their lives, “What’s been good this week?” And it is sometimes a struggle for them to identify anything. They tell me that nothing amazing has happened. “It doesn’t have to be amazing.” I reply, “Any little thing that you have enjoyed – something you ate, a programme you watched on TV maybe. It could be quite mundane, part of your everyday life – but it must be something you enjoyed.”
Everyone has ups and downs in their lives, and when you struggle to cope with anxiety, it’s even more so. The problem anxiety is that those anxious moments come to so dominate your life that you miss the good stuff. The good stuff may be small, and seem insignificant when compared with the major anxiety your are having, but those good moments are worth remembering.
As I am typing this, I have just noticed a pair of red kites flying over the houses nearby – they are truly magnificent birds and it gives me great pleasure just to watch them for a few seconds … and then they are gone – gone to fly somewhere else. It was just a moment of being grateful for something that I find beautiful.
Now red kites might not be your thing – maybe its drinking that first cup of coffee in the morning, chatting with your partner, or listening to your favourite music in the car. Whatever you enjoy in your daily life is worth savouring.
So what has all this to do with anxiety? Well, when your brain spends time appreciating the good things in your life, when it is grateful for them, or when you simply remember them – at those times the fight-or-flight-or-freeze centre of your brain calms down. It stops generating those anxiety feelings (or at least turns them down a bit). The more the brain experiences those moments of feeling good, the more those enjoyment brain pathways become stronger.
So start to notice the small things in your everyday life that you appreciate. Notice them while they are happening, and spend a few minutes each day remembering the good things that have happened in the last 24 hours. Some people take up journaling, and write down all the good things that they can remember. It is not a cure for anxiety, but it helps.
If you have trouble coping with anxiety and stress, and need some help dealing with it, you can contact me. I use hypnotherapy to help people get their lives back together from my clinic here in Fleet (although I also take on people over Zoom if they cannot make it to my clinic.)
Photo by Jenny Ueberberg on Unsplash