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Thanks-giving; is gratitude useful in overcoming OCD and anxiety?

A common thanksgiving practice is to reflect on and appreciate what you have. In psychology speak, this would be called practicing gratitude.

If you are actively struggling with mental health issues, perhaps overwhelmed by intrusive thoughts or frozen by feelings of dread, then being asked to do this can feel incredibly invalidating.

anxiety and ocd can make it hard to be thankful
“just think how other people have it worse than you" "at least you have a roof over your head”

If you had an infected wound on your leg, you wouldn’t be expected to be grateful that the rest of your body wasn’t also injured. In moments of crises, focusing on the problem is useful in finding solutions. This is also true for anxiety and OCD.

However, as you begin to understand your symptoms and develop the tools to manage them, gratitude can become a valuable supplement to your healing process.

OCD treatment

If we stay focused on problems long-term, we risk maintaining them. Fearing their return, we can over-analyze our negative experiences and end up intensifying them.

A wound will remain painful and itchy after treatment, but picking at it will only prevent it from healing.

So, as we heal, we need to find ways of seeing past the pain and urge to check on the problem. By connecting with what we value and are grateful for, we can shift our attention back to being engaged and present in our lives.

If you’re at this stage, here are some questions you can reflect on:

practicing gratitude to overcome anxiety and ocd

What in my life is working well?

What makes me smile or laugh?

Where do I find comfort or joy?

What inspires me?

Who do I enjoy and connect with?

How have I grown?

What am I looking forward to?

Happy healing, happy thanksgiving!


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