Guest post from Geoff Welch
My demons usually show up around 4 A.M.
That seems to be the time when the worry and stress about the upcoming day drag me out of my slumber and hold me in a fitful sort of
unrest. I’m not completely awake, but I’m not sleeping either. I’m just lying there, fixating on events and circumstances I am presently unable to confront or resolve.
It’s an exhausting way to spend the last couple hours before dawn, which stresses me out even more. I need sleep. I need rest. Weariness breeds weariness, which breeds stress and worry, which breeds more weariness. It’s an ugly cycle, but I found a way out.
I discovered, quite accidentally, that gratitude is a remarkable elixir for the worry in which I am prone to engage. Taking account of the things for which I am thankful short-circuits my negativity, performing a neurological miracle. My personal experience is anecdotal, but science agrees that gratitude can improve your emotional and physical health.
Reframing my stress and worry with gratitude forces me to recognize that I am amplifying the wrong signals and sabotaging my own happiness and well-being.
Becoming aware of the importance of gratitude led me to personally write nearly 300 thank you cards in 2012, which is cool, but it wasn’t enough. To take it a step further I also used that year to launch a project called Thanks Fairbanks at the printing company I co-own which has afforded us the opportunity to give away more than 8,000 free thank you cards to our friends and neighbors in the last 18 months.
Those 4 A.M. demons still show up from time to time, but now I take their arrival as an opportunity to consider the many things for which I am grateful. When I am overwhelmed by worry and I choose instead to be mindful of the thanks I have for people who love me, the warm bed in which I am tossing and turning, my wife sleeping beside me in the quiet darkness…somehow those demons start to recede and I am overwhelmed by something else: rest.
Geoff Welch is a writer and speaker who is using his blog, This Tiny Empire, to help people build lives that matter. The co-owner of Date-Line Digital Printing in Fairbanks, Alaska, Geoff dreamed up the Thanks Fairbanks project which distributes thousands of free thank you cards annually to area residents.