How Gratitude Helps My Anxiety


The other night, I laid in bed wide awake, thinking of ALL.THE.THINGS I needed to do for the next week:

  • Clean the house for the in-laws visiting
  • Pack for myself and the kids for our beach vacation
  • Reschedule some important appointments 
  • Make doctors appointments for me and the kids

Before I knew it, it was 3:30AM and my body was buzzing from the anxiety I was feeling and from sheer exhaustion thinking about all the stuff I needed to do and from lack of sleep.  

This happens to me all too often – I lay awake in bed thinking-thinking-thinking.  Shoulda/woulda/coulda myself about every little thing in my life, going through every “I wish” statement in my head, listing off all the regrets and things I’m so unhappy about in my life – over and over and over again…

But a few years ago I was introduced to tapping therapy, which helps your body focus its energy and bring your thoughts back to center.  I try to do this when I am stressed out during the day, but when I am laying awake at night, I try a different exercise – my former therapist called it “mental tapping” which is a way to center your mind without moving a muscle.  Similar to prayer or chanting, mental tapping allows me to center my thoughts, calm my body down and fall asleep.  The method my therapist advised me to use to focus my thoughts is by focusing on everything I’m grateful for.

And so, on those sleepless nights, when my mind begins racing and running away from me, I reign it back in by listing off all the things I’m grateful for (no matter how tiny, or how much I take it for granted).  Here is a list of some of the things I was listing that night that helped me fall asleep fast:

  • I’m grateful that my nose isn’t stuffy and that I can breathe
  • I’m grateful that I’m healthy in general
  • I’m grateful to have a warm bed to sleep in
  • I’m grateful for this incredibly comfortably pillow
  • I’m grateful to be sleeping in my own home, in my bed
  • I’m grateful that I have a family that loves me

… And the list continued.  Many of the things I listed were personal to me, which is why I didn’t list them.  But if you find yourself in a situation where you can’t sleep due to anxiety, try to focus your energy back to gratitude, and focus on even the smallest things, to get your mind focused.  It may take a few times to practice and really perfect mentally tapping yourself to calmness.  But I’ve gotten to a point where I can list my gratitudes off, and they immediately calm me down – I fell asleep within 5 minutes of doing this exercise.


Photo Credit to Carri Finkbeiner