The state of gratefulness and the state of fearfulness cannot exist at the same time in your brain, physiologically. Stress hormones are emitted when you are in a state of fear, therefore, feel-good positive hormones cannot be acitve at the same time. When you take the time to consciously connect with what you feel grateful for and begin to feed that feeling of gratefulness, you are in turn guiding your brain to pull back on the firing squad within that creates a surge of stress hormones.
I know how hard it is to truly connect with what you feel grateful for when you are experiencing the wrath of PTSD. It really toys with your emotions and it wreaks havoc on our perception of life in general. It's important to remember that we know what is has on us, but what do we have on it?
We have the power of choice. We truly can choose to begin feeding a pathway. Now to begin building a road we don't start by painting the lines. We start by surveying the land. When was the last time you surveyed the land in your soul? There are always, always, always, things to be grateful for. Starting simple, let's be thankful we are breathing. Without that, we wouldn't be having this conversation.
I'm not a huge fan of journaling....shocking, I know, given how much I share in my blog and my book, but journaling is somehow different. It becomes a place to complain, rather than a place to learn. I like to learn. I don't like to complain. With that, keeping a notebook that you can call whatever you want, keep a list of five things you feel grateful for. I recommend doing this before you go to bed at night. No need to analyze it. Just list five things, close the book, and go to bed.
In the morning, open up the book read the five things, then close the book and go about your day. When you go to bed that next night, open it up and write more five things. Shut the book and go to bed. No analyzing. Open it in the morning.....This is a bit of a lather, rinse, repeat, cycle I'm demonstrating here.
This is not some get-fixed-quick scheme to make you think you're going to feel better immediately. I'm not into that approach to life, but what this is doing is activating the calm, feel-good part of the brain that cannot operate at the same time as fear. If you are someone who experiences anxiety at night, as I have for years, then this is a good tool to explore. If gratefulness cannot exist at the same time as fear, then focusing on gratefulness before you go to sleep and when you wake up in the morning begins to create a cycle over time.
I don't know about you, but I would much rather be able to feel like I'm ending my day with something positive on my plate and waking up with something positive, rather than being filled with fear and anxiety. I've done both, I really prefer the positive and do my best to keep that pathway strong.