Meeting Social Anxiety with Gratitude​

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At The Steve Fund, we welcome every November as a time for practicing and expressing gratitude. With the Thanksgiving holiday and the closing of the calendar year, it is a good time to take account of all that we have to be grateful for—be it health, family and friends, or simply the sunrise.

At the same time, this may be a season when many of us face social situations and interactions that bring feelings of fear and anxiety. These negative feelings, also known as social anxiety, stem from a hyper-social awareness, when one might worry about being judged or called out. For young people of color, social anxiety can also come from the anticipation of everyday racism and discrimination, in addition to misconceptions and stigma associated with mental health concerns. Now, research shows that one way to deal with anxiety is to practice gratitude (The Psychology of Gratitude2015 study). These studies show that by incorporating practices that acknowledge the positive outcomes in life, we can reduce anxiety and build stronger relationships.
This month, we want to bring messages of hope and support to young people of color who may be dealing with social anxiety. Here are a few tips to help you practice more gratitude:
  • Count your blessings—every day! This is the easiest and most effective way to bring more gratitude to your life. Make an extra effort to notice or count a new blessing on a daily basis. This practice will make showing and feeling gratitude fresh, and help to reduce symptoms of depression and anxiety.

  • Create a gratitude jar. A small box in your backpack or a glass jar on your desk is a great way to capture the little things that make you smile throughout the day. On a scrap of paper, write down the things you feel grateful for, the things that lift your spirits, or the things that make you laugh. As a bonus, when you are feeling down, read what made earlier days brighter.

  • Send a message of thanks. Reach out with a short text to a friend or family member thanking them for doing something that you appreciated–whether it was a thoughtful action or just being a text away. Studies show that this simple practice can help you feel better sooner when you are dealing with mental health issues.

This November, I invite you to look for ways to show gratitude with the people in your life. On behalf of everyone at The Steve Fund, I wish you a relaxing and joyful Thanksgiving Holiday, and I thank you for your support and for being a part of The Steve Fund community.

Be well,


Anuja Khemka


Diverse, Gifted & At Risk Conference hosted at John Jay College of Criminal Justice, CUNY – 11/15/19.
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The Steve Fund is dedicated to the mental health and emotional well-being of students of color. Right at this moment, there are students of color who are failing academically, suffering emotionally and/OR in some cases are facing serious risk, because population-specific factors influencing mental health are too poorly understood and not acted upon. We are taking action. Learn more.

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