© by Robin M. Gilliam
I get anxious – a lot. I think it’s a family trait. And, I don’t know why it comes up, but when I get anxious, I have a hard time catching my breath. And, the more I focus on NOT being able to breath, the harder it becomes to try to fill my lungs with air. I realized into my 25+ years in recovery that I was self-medicating with drugs to calm this dragon.
Today in recovery, I use different tools to help me manage my anxiety; one of those tools is gratitude. Early in my recovery I went skiing with my sister and her family (husband and 2 kids). I was excited to go skiing because it had been in a bad accident on a high-school ski trip, busted my head opened, earning me 19 stitches across my forehead. So going skiing was a big deal.
But what happened on the ride to the ski lodge was a big surprise. I became anxious as very loud thoughts came rushing at me like – I’m a fifth wheel, I’m all alone, I don’t have kids. I think I almost had a panic attack as the thoughts came louder and faster. And there was no texting back then to reach out to fellowship to talk me out of this deep dark hole.
But then my recovery kicked in answering my silent prayer for help and I remembered about gratitude. So I started to create a gratitude list in my head:
1. I’m grateful my husband stayed home to take care of the animals
2. I’m grateful to have some money to go skiing
3. I’m grateful I have a great relationship with my sister
4. I’m grateful they want me to join them
5. I’m grateful for the beautiful countryside – Looking out the car window, I remembered how much I love traveling in the winter and seeing things through the trees that are covered up during other seasons.
6. I’m grateful to have someone to ski with – at that time my niece was just learning and our skill-sets were compatible (she was 8 and I was about 43 – LOL!)
For the next few hours I worked that recovery solution – I repeated my gratitude list over and over in my mind until that fear, double and insecurity released its grip and the anxiety slipped away. Thank you God for reminding me that by focusing on the tool of gratitude I could breath easy again.
PRO RECOVERY TIP:
Use a daily gratitude list to help release anxiety by replacing negative thoughts with positive ones. Start now and list 5 things you are grateful for today. Repeat again tomorrow. Use it as often as needed throughout the day – its free!
Robin M. Gilliam is an artist and author in long-term recovery since February 6, 1991. Robin uses the healing power of art and the spiritual principles of the 12 steps to maintain her recovery and teaches these amazing transformational tools and techniques through her workshops. She is also a keynote speaker where she shares her recovery journey.
If you like this blog, you will love her novel, Gift of Desperation, where you will meet Claire and journey with her out of the darkness and into hope – inspired by over 20 years of true addiction/recovery stories – and available in eBook or softback at Amazon.