There are several key markers of today’s current society.
Technology. Innovation. Constant communication. And a lot of anxiety.
Chances are, you have seen people very close to you struggle with anxiety disorders. We’d be willing to bet you’ve dealt with your share of it too. The reality is–anxiety disorders are the most common mental illnesses in the United States (ADAA) and are equally pervasive in countries all over the world.
Although we continue to make incredible strides in innovation, technology, medicine and education, we just can’t seem to figure out why it’s getting worse. There are many reasons we can think of that contribute to growing rates of anxiety. The news. Social media. Global economies. The brokenness we see in the world. But none of these things are going to change anytime soon. We do not have the power to solve these issues overnight. What we do have is the ability to change how we react to them.
We’d like to start off by saying that there is extensive research that has unpacked how chemical imbalances in the human brain can affect depression and anxiety. This article is in no way meant to discredit the advances of modern medicine and science for mental health.
We would describe anxiety as an impending sense of foreboding. In other words, that sinking feeling in your stomach and those creeping thoughts that something bad is going to happen. You’re not 100% sure what or when or to what degree… but it is something that scares you. This fear can be about health, safety, relationships, or your career. Maybe it’s just a generalized sense of dread that you can’t quite pinpoint. Anxiety is an emotion – one that holds a lot of power. Our #1 strategy to combat this paralyzer is another emotion.
Gratitude serves as a combative force to anxiety because it alters your brain’s habits and attention. Anxiety focuses your attention on what might or might not happen and what you don’t have. Worry does not add a single day to your life. You cannot worry an outcome to a situation into existence. It is a thief of peace and a thief of joy in what we have been given. We believe that “there is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment” (1 John 4:18).
Gratitude focuses your attention on what you know to be true today and what you do have. We believe that everything we have, we have been given.This is certainly not meant to minimize heavy circumstances or pretend they don’t exist. We know what it is to be in pain or watch somebody we love go through trials. We believe that life in Christ doesn’t guarantee that bad things won’t happen to us in this world. But we have seen in real life how a perspective grounded in gratitude and hope allows us to see the same things differently.
“Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid” (John 14:27).
Our goal is to replace fear with faith. If you are still reconciling with your faith and struggling with anxiety, we suggest starting with thanksgiving.
- Choose to surround yourself with people & content that are marked by gratitude.
Do your friends talk more about what they don’t have or what they do have? Are your Social Media feeds or favorite books/TV Shows predominantly negative or positive?
- Choose a designated time of day to write down and dwell on 3 new things you are thankful for.
If you know you will have to think of three different things you are grateful for every day, you will eventually begin to look for new things to be thankful for. It is an easy temptation to forget all that has been given to you, especially when things go wrong.
We also pray about the things we are anxious about, and then we thank God for all that He has done for us.
Actively choosing to live in gratitude can be the first step in battling anxiety, because it helps us remember all that we have been given. All the ways we have, so far, been brought through hard times. And all the ways we will continue to be brought through hard times. Why, although our current circumstances might be incredibly difficult, we are blessed.
Why We Believe What We Believe About Gratitude and Anxiety:
“Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. 7 And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” – Philippians 4:6-7
“Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful.”- Colossians 3:15
“So do not fear, for I am with you;
do not be dismayed, for I am your God.
I will strengthen you and help you;
I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.” – Isaiah 41:10