Things don’t always work out the way we plan, but that’s okay. During these moments of what feels like chaos, when life takes a sharp turn in an unexpected direction and we just have to catch up, I try to practice gratitude to center myself.
We’re coming up on the one-year mark of living in a global pandemic. We’ve lived a year full of unexpected twists and turns—from Brexit to the wildfires in California and Australia, to the Pentagon releasing video footage of potential UFO sightings, to Black Lives Matter Protests, to a long and contentious presidential race, to riots at the Capitol, to a new Ebola outbreak, just to name a few—all while the COVID-19 pandemic raged on.
For a while, it felt like so much was happening that I simply couldn’t keep up. Now, though, it feels like we can see an end to the pandemic in sight with the timeline of the vaccine rollout moving up. Even as we approach that end, we still don’t know what the future holds. We don’t know what the new normal will be, but we do know that all of our lives have been majorly impacted by the events of the past year.
Amid all this chaos and uncertainty, it is crucial that we prioritize our mental health and continue to practice self-care in whatever ways we can. One of my favorite tools for self-care when things feel out of control—which has been most of the past year—is gratitude.
I practice gratitude when I feel overwhelmed by things that are out of my hands because it allows me to stop focusing on the negative and start focusing on the positive. During these moments, I think about the people and things for which I am grateful. Over the course of the pandemic, the biggest thing has been the health and safety of my loved ones. I’ve been fortunate enough to maintain my health, as have my closest friends and family. I also focus on the day-to-day things, like the ability to stay in contact with people I love through technology, the work that I’m able to continue doing at my jobs, the opportunity to explore new interests and hobbies during times I would have been busy pre-COVID. Recently, I’ve even found myself practicing gratitude for things as small as a TikTok of someone doing something nice for someone else.
Gratitude can be whatever you want it to be, and you can practice it however you want to practice it. Some folks choose to keep a gratitude journal, some choose to meditate on it, and some, myself included, just practice it through mindfulness and being aware of when they’re feeling, or wanting to feel, gratitude. No matter how you choose to do it, as long as the intention is there, you’re practicing gratitude.
Next time things start to feel overwhelming and out of control, try to take a moment to focus on the things for which you can be grateful. Jot it down or just think on it, but be mindful of the way that gratitude makes you feel.
As always, stay safe and stay healthy,