“When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, ‘Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.” – Mr. Rogers
Gratitude. What a powerful concept. This word has never been more meaningful and important than now. This global pandemic has crippled the mental health of millions of individuals and families as many have slipped into a deep depression. Panic attacks and anxiety has taken over making it nearly impossible to manage daily life. People are dealing with so much loss. They are experiencing the loss of loved ones, the loss of interpersonal relationships and affection, the loss of their employment or business, the loss of normalcy, and more. You never thought these would be things of the past. Shaking someone’s hand or giving a friend a hug when greeting them are such simple things you may have taken for granted and not thought to appreciate or be grateful for. You never know when these sorts of things will be taken from you. Now that they have been for many as you are being cautious due to the pandemic, you are grieving these losses. You are feeling sad. You are feeling anxious. You feel like your body is heavy and you are dragging each day. You are worried about the unknowns of tomorrow and when these losses will return again. This is where your mindset is. However, although you may be experiencing a good amount of loss, now is the time to be grateful as gratitude is what will be your strength to work through these moments of hardship.
Mr. Rogers indicated that his mother told him to look for the helpers in times of crisis as “You will always find people who are helping.” When you look for the helpers, you will find hope. You will recognize the good in the world. You will feel strength. This is similar to gratitude. During moments of loss and crisis, there are always things to be grateful for. 9 months ago, you may have been focusing on other things that caused stress, sadness, or anxiety as opposed to focusing on gratitude. If you knew then what you know now, you may have focused your energy a bit differently. You may have focused strongly on the moments of affection with family and friends and embraced the beauty of a large gathering or celebration when many of the people you love most were in the same room together. You may have practiced mindfulness at your favorite restaurant more regularly as you enjoyed dining indoors. Now that these things have been taken from you, your focus may be on grieving. Although it is normal and necessary to grieve, it is important to find balance between grieving and gratitude. In moments of sadness, despair and loss, find the positive. Find what to be grateful for as you never know when more things you love and value may be stripped and taken from you.
Gratitude goes hand in hand with mindfulness. To help you enhance your feelings of gratitude, focus on present moments. You may feel the loss of something that you had yesterday or be worried that you may lose something tomorrow. Just bring your attention back to the here and now. Be attentive to what you have today. To help you with this process, read our previous blog, Anxiety & the Here & Now. If you are having a difficult time finding something to be grateful for, use the list below as a starting point.
- Hugs and affection from your immediate family (your child, spouse, or partner)
- Your basic needs (i.e.: food, shelter, water)
- Your health
- Walks, hikes, playing outside
- Seeing and spending time with loved ones, even if it is outside or wearing a mask
- Doing things that bring you joy (i.e.: playing music, gardening, knitting, watching movies, exercising, watching or playing sports)
- Eating delicious and nutritious food
- Reading a good book
- Working from home and sleeping in for now (if you can)
- Being able to wear comfortable clothes if you are working from home during the pandemic
- Beautiful sunrises and sunsets
- Bicycle rides