Anxiety can often feel like a thick, heavy fog has surrounded your mind. Nothing really seems enjoyable as you are always looking out at the world through this haze of anxious thoughts and feelings. This sensation can be distressing as people fear that they will never be able to relieve the weight of anxiety and feel normal again.
This mental fog can steal the joy out of life and can make you feel removed or cut off from the world.
Because of this, a person with a panic or anxiety disorder will often spend much of their day mentally “checking in”.
Checking in is a term used to refer to how people with anxiety constantly monitor their mind and body.
“Am I feeling ok?”
“How are my thoughts?”
“Am I feeling secure or on edge right now?”
The reason frequent checking in occurs is because anxiety has such a powerful effect on the mind and body.
So how do you relieve the weight of anxiety from your mind?
When someone is very caught up in anxious thoughts they are top heavy so to speak. The constant mental activity they are engaged in causes an imbalance where all of their focus is on their mental anxieties.
A powerful way to move out of this anxious mental fog and to relieve the weight of anxiety is to switch your focus from your head to your heart.
By simply making a deliberate shift of attention to your heart you will find the anxious thoughts dissipate more easily and the mental fog starts to gradually clear.
You can make this switch by practicing the art of gratitude.
Perhaps you have heard people speaking about the art of gratitude and the benefits it can bring to you.
Did you know that it has now been scientifically proven that regular practice of gratitude can dramatically change your bodies chemistry, giving way to a more peaceful body and mind.
The Heart Math Institute has 15 years of scientific research proving that a simple tool like the art of gratitude can dramatically reduce stress and improve performance for individuals and organizations.
Many Fortune 500 companies are now starting to relieve the weight of anxiety by using this technique to reduce work related stress.
Exercising the art of gratitude.
When you practice gratitude you will feel a lightness and greater sense of perspective on any matter that has been troubling you. This activation of your heart emotion will lift the sensation that anxious thoughts create.
This is a very simple exercise but it is really powerful.
Are you ready?
-Begin by closing your eyes and moving your attention to your heart area.
-Imagine a feeling of warmth emanating from the center of your chest.
If appropriate place your right hand there. If you are around people or driving, simply imagine your right hand resting on your heart area.
Imagine this area glowing warmly for one to two minutes.
-Now, begin to focus on something in your life that you feel a genuine sense of appreciation for.
This can be one or more things that you really appreciate having in your life (e.g., family, health, friends, work, your home, a beautiful day etc).
It is important to focus on things that spark a real sense of gratitude and appreciation.
If you really appreciate what you are thinking about, you will immediately feel a positive response. It may be warm sensation in your chest or an involuntary smile.
It does not really matter what you think about as long as it evokes this feeling of warm appreciation from your heart area.
Do not worry if you are thinking of your partner or family and you do not feel this. Some days it will be people close to you that will spark the heart feeling. Other days it may be gratitude for very simple things like the fresh air you breath. It depends on the mood you are in. Remember it is the feeling that you are after.
The feeling we are looking to achieve is unmistakable, it is a positive change in your emotional state.
It is best to do this exercise alone because you will need to stay with this feeling for as long as you can.
Then, when you feel you have taken it as far as you can, open your eyes.
There is no time frame on this exercise, it can be a few minutes to half an hour. Remember, it is about establishing a heart/mind connection and getting your awareness away from the anxious thoughts and into your body.
Incorporate gratitude into your daily routine.
Do it in the car, or sitting at your desk. And do it before you sleep at night.
You have to practice it frequently. Just like a muscle your heart will get more accustomed to this state and you will be able to switch into that feeling in seconds.
With practice you can also use this exercise in the middle of any stressful situation. You will be surprised at the positive outcome in terms of your own stress levels and the change in others around you.
This simple exercise can completely transform the outcome of interacting with other people, be it work or personal relationships.
This is especially true where there is conflict or misunderstanding between you and other people. Try it out and see what happens!
Be creative and make it part of your own daily ritual. By practicing gratitude to relieve the weight of anxiety you can make a dramatic improvement to the quality of your life.
The simplest things in life are free, and this is one of those gems.