Keeping an Attitude of Gratitude During the Holidays
It’s holiday time. This means family, friends, food, and fun. It also means unpredictability and a break in our routines which can lead to stress. It is easy to get so caught up in the details of the holidays. Will my sister like the gift I got her? Will the company get along? Is the ham overdone? It is also a time when ongoing stressors in our lives can feel magnified. We might worry if we can afford to give our children the gifts we want, family conflict can feel unavoidable, or it may feel like everyone else is celebrating while we feel more and more isolated or alone. Whatever the reasons might be, the holidays are not always the perfect celebration we sometimes expect. So how can we cope?
Last year my mother-in-law introduced a concept to our family that shone a new light on the season: The Gratitude Jar. Every family member was given a piece of paper to write down one thing they were grateful for in the previous year. We all had to share out loud what we were grateful for before putting it in the jar. Throughout the holiday, the jar was a reminder of all of the things we had to appreciate.
Practicing gratitude can be a simple and easy way to shift your thinking and reduce stress during the holiday season. Research has consistently shown that practicing gratitude can have many stress reducing effects (http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2007/11/16/AR2007111601699.html).
Although the Gratitude Jar can be a great activity to share with family and friends, there are many ways you can practice gratitude to make the holidays more enjoyable:
- Make a short list of 3 things you are happy about in your life. Keep the list in your pocket and read it over whenever you are feeling overwhelmed.
- Write a letter to someone who is important in your life expressing your appreciation
- Volunteer. Spending time with others in need can remind you to appreciate the aspects of our lives we take for granted.
I want to wish you all a happy and healthy holiday and best wishes for the new year!
“Gratitude can transform common days into thanksgivings, turn routine jobs into joy, and change ordinary opportunities into blessings.” — William Arthur Ward
~The HealthPsych Team