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The self-care exercise that always helps calm my anxiety down

We are finally easing out of lockdown in Ireland…something that felt like a complete fantasy back in April when every headline contained harrowing figures, heartbreaking news played out hourly on the radio and daily conversations revolved around COVID-19.

It was an overwhelming and intense chapter that will be hard to forget. We went months without hugs, only seeing loved ones through the screen of our iPhones, wondering when this would ever come to an end. The impact this pandemic has had on people’s mental health is a growing concern. The never-ending negative news reels, the terror, the intensity of the pandemic, the fear of the unknown. It was a lot for our minds to absorb. I went through a lot of mental health dips during the earlier days of lockdown but there was one habit that helped me get through anxious moments and waves of depression.

It is very easy to let your negative feelings take over, especially when you’re living through a global health pandemic, something none of us ever expected to experience in our lives. Everyone has their bad days, it’s only natural. We cannot be happy, preppy beings 24/7, but it’s important to remember that you can help lift your mood, even when it feels impossible. One thing that really helped me deal with mental health dips or ‘bad brain days’ as I call them, was writing a gratitude list. It’s a grounding exercise my therapist recommended when I was just learning how to manage my anxiety disorder and it will forever be one of the best lessons I’ve ever learned in life.

All you need is a notebook and a pen and simply jot down things you’re grateful for in life. It helps take your mind away from the dark, anxious thoughts by drowning them out with happy memories, things that make you smile and joyous moments in life. It doesn’t need to be deep or super meaningful but it can be if you like. Write down whatever feels right.


A post shared by Kat (@katoconnorr) on

Like today, I feel grateful for listening to Bruce Springsteen on vinyl, the sunny weather, my grandparents who are all safe and healthy, being able to walk to the shops in the sunshine, coffee (always grateful for coffee), seeing so many people continue to support the Black Lives Matter movement and being able to hug my parents. 

This exercise helps you see that there is a lot of good in the world, a lot to be grateful for and a lot of positive things that can help stop the heavy, negative thoughts from overwhelming you. I know it won’t work for everyone, but talking about our mental health experiences is vital in beating the stigma.

I do hope this exercise helps you, especially those of you who are feeling low at the moment.

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