Hi, I’m Dr. Carolee Johnson. Today I would like to show you a technique that I learned at the HeartMath Institute, and I use it to do what I call ‘Watering My Gratitude Garden’. When I was suffering with anxiety, I had a hard time with the negativity and the catastrophic thinking, and the “what if” factor. So I learned this technique… The first thing in the morning is the time when people have the most anxiety, and they think, “Oh no, what’s going to happen today?” And then they go into that catastrophic “what if” mode of thinking, which is terrible, and it becomes a habit.
So what I learned to do is put my hand over my diaphragm and I would just breathe into that hand, all the way in. Relax. And I would arrange my facial muscles into a smile, which automatically changes the way your brain reacts, and so it gives you a sense of well-being and peace first thing in the morning. Okay, so you’re breathing into that hand with a smile on your face, and sometimes you feel kind of ridiculous laying there just smiling for no reason, but it actually does work. Breathe into that hand and smile!
Once you have that sense of peace and well-being moving through your body, it changes the endorphins in your brain, and the neurotransmitters are more at peace. Next think about, “What am I grateful for today? What do I appreciate?” I’m starting to water my gratitude garden. Any little thing you can think of – particularly things about yourself that you like, because it helps with self-love and many people need that. And so you think, “I am glad that the sun rises in the mornings. It feels good; that light makes me feel good.” “I appreciate the roof over my head. I love my kids.” Anything that comes to mind. “I’m glad I’m still alive. I appreciate my family. I love the flowers that are blooming outside my door. The sky is blue, I like blue.” You know, any little thing that waters your gratitude garden. What is it that you appreciate?
Then, once you are there, you can start to change those negative things in your life, the ones that you woke up thinking about. Change your breathing from your diaphragm to your heart. So now it’s almost like I’m breathing right into my heart. I learned this at HeartMath too. Instead of breathing in through your sinuses or your mouth, you’re thinking, “I’m breathing in through my heart.” It gives you a sense of your heart and what’s in your heart. Instead of some fear or anxiety that’s there, I’m going to think of something that I’m really, truly grateful for, that I feel true appreciation for, and I’m going to bring that gratitude into that fear field.
So normally I feel anxious and afraid when I wake up in the morning, so now I’m going to replace that with gratitude. It works a little bit like the tapping method. Even though I have this anxiety in my heart, I truly, deeply, and completely love and accept myself anyway. Bringing that gratitude into that field over the top of that anxiety, starts to replace that anxiety with gratitude and that sense of peace and well-being that you have brought into your field.
This was one of the techniques that I used to overcome anxiety. I know that anxiety can be a terrible thing. It almost becomes a habit to wake up in the morning and do that catastrophic thinking of “Oh no, the world is scary,” or, “God is scary,” or, “People are scary and I can’t go out and face my day. It’s too hard.” This type of technique, bringing that gratitude and that sense of peace, raising those neurotransmitters and endorphin levels, really helps to start to shift that anxiety into gratitude thinking to where you can start to handle your days better and things start to improve. If you need help with anxiety, go ahead and email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. I hope you have a great day!