One of the amazing superpowers of gratitude is its ability to help us fight off anxiety.
Believe it or not, anxiety is a natural part of life. It is our body’s innate wake-up call, designed through evolution to alert us to danger and prepare to respond.
When our brain detects something that is potentially dangerous it activates the fight or flight response.
Hormones like adrenaline and cortisol course through the body, our heart rate increases as does our breath rate. Muscles tense up and we begin to sweat.
This well-orchestrated physiological process is very effective at keeping us alive. Our brains have been conditioned over thousands of years to repeat this in order to survive.
In the book Grateful Brain, author Alex Korb says that our brain is conditioned to function in a repeated way.
For example, a person who constantly focuses on the possible negative outcomes of a situation can subconsciously condition their brains into a pattern that favors negative thoughts.
Korb also mentions that the mind simply cannot focus on positive and negative information at the same time.
Thus, by consciously choosing to practice gratitude in a moment of anxiety, we can train the brain to select positive thoughts. Over time, this can even become an automatic response.
Finally, the next time you are feeling anxious, pause, and list out three things in your head you are grateful for.
If you would like a longer exercise, try one of our gratitude challenges.