It is so easy today to become caught up in the very real worry and resulting anxiety surrounding the worldwide pandemic we are facing. It is the main topic on the news, on my social media feed, and is in the forefront of our minds in every interaction we have. Every little cough, or sneeze, or sniffle becomes suspect. Family gatherings, church services, even trips to the salon have to be avoided.
I thought I was handling the added stress effectively until one day when I realized I wasn’t. I never cry and found myself crying several times a week. I have always enjoyed nights of great sleep and then realized I was only getting 4 or 5 hours a night. I just couldn’t turn my brain off enough to relax and sleep. I worried. About everything. All the time. I didn’t feel like me anymore.
I decided to consult my doctor to ask for his advice. He told me to try walking. Just 10 minutes a day. He said it would help relieve anxiety and would be good for my health. So, I laced up my tennis shoes and began walking.
I walked in my backyard and up and down my street. As I walked, in the beginning, I was still thinking about all of the things that I am worried about. The more I walked, the more I began to see the beauty around me again. A flower blooming in a crack in the sidewalk, a bird singing in a tree, several squirrels playing chase. I began to notice the clouds again, and remembered how good the sun feels on my shoulders. It suddenly hit me on one of these walks, that while I was spending my time worrying about all of the problems in the world and everything I couldn’t do anymore, I had forgotten to be grateful.
I decided to make an effort to practice gratitude every day. There is so much to be grateful for. I miss my mom and my daughters and granddaughters, but I am grateful for video calling and grateful to have a family to be able to talk to every day. I am aware again of the beauty in nature and thankful to be able to see it all around me. I have made a conscious effort to shift my thinking and to find the good in everything and be grateful for all of the blessings in my life.
It is not always easy, but if you are feeling anxious as we face so many unknowns right now, I encourage you to try being grateful. Take a walk. Look around. Become aware of everything we have to be grateful for. Once again, I am feeling like myself.