Ok, let’s be real here, this pandemic stuff is scary. You can’t escape it. It is literally everywhere. Life is so uncertain. People have lost so much. Their jobs, schedules, routines, incomes, family time, stability, and more. I don’t care who you are, no one could have been prepared for this. How can you not feel depressed? I struggle with depression in real life and now my life has been completely turned upside down. I keep hearing, “the new normal.” This is normal? This being normal terrifies me. So, to be honest, I don’t think like that. I don’t let my anxiety take control. I stay grateful. I know everything isn’t sunshine and rainbows. I would be lying if I said this is easy. But practicing gratitude can change everything. I am not an expert, but I do know, if I didn’t do these small steps, I would be drinking, smoking, and treating my body like an insignificant shell. I can say, since I started practicing gratitude, my life has significantly improved.
I read something recently. It said something along the lines of “before sobriety, I used to wake up and think, ‘ugh, another day.’ Now that I am in sobriety, I wake up and think, ‘WOW! Another day!’” Talk about perspective. But that is how simple practicing gratitude can be. So how do I practice gratitude on a daily basis? I start my day by meditating, yes, meditating. I used to think that shit was so weird, and now I cannot start my day without it. I struggle with focus and concentration; it was hard for me to grasp the concept. But taking that time in the morning helps start the day. You can literally go on YouTube and search guided meditation and you will get hundreds of results. There are also apps you can use to guide you in meditation. Starting your day with intention sets the standard of how you are going to treat yourself and what your day will look like. What you start your day with is what you attract for the day. I keep a schedule. Right now, it is very simple, but I need structure. If I am left to my own devices and my mind has too much free time to roam, I end up in a dark place. When my mind starts to slip and wander, I give myself a time out. I literally say out loud, “these thoughts are not serving me.” I take a deep breath and I let them go. I plan out my day every morning; it helps keep me motivated and moving. Write in that 2020 planner you got, set your timers, give yourself reminders. Use your time wisely. I am so lazy when I allow myself to be, I can binge Netflix all day, but don’t let your T.V. ask you multiple times, “Are you still watching?” Create projects for yourself. The smallest task completed give you joy, which increases your sense gratitude.
I love my body. A friend told me to look in the mirror and say, “I love you.” How awkward but man, saying this everyday has dramatically changed how I see and treat myself. Love the skin you are in. Maybe your body is not where you want it but when you love your body, you are encouraged to be active and treat yourself better. Be active. Go for walks. Adding time to pay respect to your body makes the world of difference. Work out. You obviously can’t go to the gym but thankfully my gym has gone to an online format, (SHOUT OUT to https://www.ohanafitnessandwellness.com). If you can’t get to the gym or weren’t going before, now is the time to start. Pinterest is amazing for workout ideas, and again, YouTube has so many free workouts. Move your body. It releases endorphins; endorphins make you happy. When you feel happy, you are grateful. Part of loving your body is watching what you put in it. Junk food may taste good, but it makes you feel bad. I learned that so many of the chemicals our bodies produce, are made in our bellies. So why put crap in there.
I connect with people. When you act in service, or as a friend, even as someone who listens, it is a way of practicing gratitude. This time of “social distancing” does not mean you have to completely isolate yourself. I have taken advantage of technology in every way I can. I FaceTime my sister daily. I still see my family and friends in nontraditional ways. I was even able to play family feud with some friends on Zoom. I work on my sobriety by connecting with others using social media platforms. I also have been attending meetings online. There is support everywhere, just be brave enough to reach out. There are so many apps you can use to videochat with people, find what works best for you.
Lastly, when I go to bed at night, I write in a gratitude journal. Every. Single. Night. Sometimes it is hard to find things to be grateful for. But I find at least 10 things each day and I am detailed about it. When I am feeling down or overwhelmed, I go back to my journal. It reminds me, I am blessed. Again, Pinterest has tons of journal prompts for starting a gratitude journal. There are so many things to be thankful for even in the darkest of times. Take the time, think about it.Dedicate time to focus on the positive.
I am grateful for things I never noticed before since I started practicing gratitude every day. I find myself full of joy when sunshine hits my face. When I hear birds chirp, I smile. When I see my friends name on my phone, I feel blessed. I am grateful for my meals and workouts; I thank myself for treating my body well. I am grateful for my son and my family. Practicing gratitude has made me a better person. My attitude towards life has changed. I thank God more for the positive things instead of praying for my life to be improved. Be kind to yourself, my friends. Be kind to others. Be grateful. Improve your life by taking it one day at a time.