Replacing Anxious Thoughts with Thanks
Next week is Thanksgiving—a time of reflection, gratitude, and for many people, stress. That’s how I was feeling this afternoon at the grocery store. I stopped there after a busy day of work to pick up a chicken breast and a bag of salad greens for dinner tonight. The parking lot was full and the lines were unusually long. I realized that some of the shoppers were stocking up for Thanksgiving. I started to worry that although we’re having a lot of people over, I haven’t even started to plan, clean, or even consider what I would need to do. Then I realized that I hadn’t written a blog today. And that how could I possibly stand in this long line, drive home, cook, and even be able to think, let alone write?
Here I am at the computer. The chicken breast is waiting for the oven to heat and I am trying to calm down. I know of three interventions that help with anxiety and stress; mindfulness, behavior changes, and cognitive changes.
I think I’ll try mindfulness. I will become in touch with the present moment. Well, my respiration is a little fast, I’m feeling a little stomach upset. My back is a bit sore from sitting and working on a report most of the day. My neck hurts too. I really need to write this blog and cook dinner. Well, I guess this mindfulness isn’t working out for me right now.
Okay. How about behavior therapy—I can change what I’m doing. Oh, the phone is ringing. I’ll answer the phone. I listen. I talk. I’m still stressed out because the blog still has to be written and the chicken breast cooked and the salad tossed. So, this changing behavior isn’t working so well either.
Well, how about changing the way I’m thinking? Okay here we go. I can start dinner as soon as I finish this blog. It’s no big deal if dinner is a little later tonight. I don’t have to write the best blog in the world. I can write an okay blog and that will be just fine. At least I get to write blogs and I have a great day job and I can afford to buy a chicken breast and a bit of salad. Okay, I’m feeling a bit better–now more rethinking.
Thanksgiving will be great even if I don’t plan ahead. I’ll go to the store on Wednesday like lots of other people. I don’t have to polish any silverware for Thanksgiving because I only have stainless. And my company china is the same as my everyday dishes. We’ll have a bunch of kids running around and the house will smell like turkey. What’s not to like? Wow, this cognitive therapy really works! Have great pre-holiday thoughts—be grateful and give thanks.
Keyboard photo available at Shutterstock.
Smith, L. (2011). Replacing Anxious Thoughts with Thanks. Psych Central. Retrieved on June 2, 2015, from http://blogs.psychcentral.com/anxiety/2011/11/replacing-anxious-thoughts-with-thanks/