Early this summer, right as I was really getting back into running (it’s one of those interests that comes and goes in my life as it pleases), I sprained my ankle. Badly. Now, this isn’t so terrible in of itself; people injure themselves all the time, and ankles heal. The thing is, running had become something of a crutch for me. As I mentioned earlier this year, I suffer from some sometimes pretty severe anxiety (and panic and depression). So running has been one of the many tools* I use to alleviate the anxiety I experience throughout the day. Unfortunately, it became my main tool, so much so that when I was unable to run, I let my mind get the better of me and let my anxiety rule my day. Not cool.
Unfortunately, my yoga practice also fell to the wayside. It’s amazing how such a small injury can really inhibit your daily activities. And because I had come to rely on yoga and running as a source of anxiety-release, not being able to do them as I pleased was difficult. And ultimately humbling. The truth is, I could have practived some gentler forms of yoga, such as yin yoga. I could have also done as much stretching as my heart desired. Things like swimming were also still available to me. But I was stubborn and I took not being able to practice the kind of yoga I wanted to do and run when I wanted to as a failure. I quickly developed a cycle of negative thoughts based on my own stubbornness and what I perceived as a failure in myself. So here’s where my focus on gratitude comes in. One of my favorite persons on earth is Dr. Andrew Weil, and recently he wrote a post on Facebook about the power of gratitude. It was something to the effect that people who start the day thinking about what they are grateful for have reduced levels of stress, anxiety and depression throughout the day compared to those who do not. I can’t (read: don’t want to scroll through the pages) find the exact post, but it was similar to this article. This idea really resonated with me because on of my favorite parts of my yoga practice is setting an intention for that session, whether it be for myself or for another. So I figured, why not? Let’s give it a try.
A month later, it has become one of my favorite parts of my day. And so I thought I would take it a step further and share it with the world. (Lucky you!) I hope that maybe you’ll give it a try. It takes just a few minutes, can be about anything, and really, truly, makes a difference. So here we go.
Three things I am grateful for today:
- My physical body. Sometimes it doesn’t do what I would like it to do; it has limits and (often due to my clumsiness) can get hurt. But make no mistake – my body is strong and healthy. It gets me from Point A to Point B. It rewards me when I take care of it, whether through a fantastic hour of yoga, or by squeezing into my favorite pair of jeans (you know you have one of those!).
- My dog, Valentino. He barks too much, is way spoiled, and is my best friend. He loves nothing more than to sleep in with me on the weekends and cuddle. He never fails to greet me like he hasn’t seen me in ages. He is truly, man’s best friend. My best friend.
- Coffee. It’s hot in San Diego right now. Hot and humid. And yet, my greatest midday treat is an extra-hot, extra-dry double cappuccino. I’m not ashamed to say that it is one of the best parts of my day. The foam, the aroma, the spike of energy…I love, LOVE it!
And there you go! I hope you do give it a try. And if not, then maybe try setting a positive intention for yourself each morning while getting ready for work/school/your day. I bet you’ll see a positive change in your life 🙂
*The reason running is so effective, or really any physical exercise, is so effective as a relief to anxiety is because as your exert yourself your body releases endorphins (the “feel good” hormones) and at the same time reduces your stress. In a way, you’re get a two-for-one deal. A decrease in stress and an increase in “happy thoughts.”