Every year, millions of families come together to celebrate a variety of holidays, especially Thanksgiving. A common theme during this time is to express gratitude for the things and people around us. This year looks very different for most of us as we navigate COVID-19, but there are still plenty of reasons to express gratitude. Doing so makes more of an impact than we realize, and if we stay grateful year-round, it’s even better.
Gratitude Feels Good
Have you ever noticed that showing gratitude feels good? Practicing being grateful is linked with mental well-being, including increased self-esteem, better sleep, higher energy levels, increased optimism, decreased anxiety, and reduced depressive symptoms. One study showed that participants that maintained a gratitude journal were 25 percent happier than those who did not keep a journal. Identifying things we are grateful for and focusing on the positives can help to rewire our brains, allowing for more optimism, happiness and improved health.
Sometimes the idea of focusing on gratitude can feel like adding yet another task to our busy schedules. This can seem overwhelming or intimidating, but it doesn’t have to be.
Gratitude as a Family Affair.
Many habits are learned and practicing gratitude is no different. Teach your family to show gratitude by creating activities the entire family can participate in.
- Have your family list things they are grateful for at dinner or before bedtime.
- Ask your child, “What was your happiest moment from today?“
- Thank the other members of your household for things that they do, no matter how small.
Gratitude for Friends and Community.
Letting others know that you are thankful for them can be simple, and making a point to do so can promote happiness within yourself and to others.
- Send thank-you letters and notes of appreciation to a friend or loved one.
- Give homemade gifts.
- Donate money, time, goods, or talent to causes that you care about.
- Give at least one compliment each day.
- Make a point to pay it forward.
Gratitude for Yourself.
Maybe you would rather start practicing by yourself, and that is okay. The goals we set for ourselves can stay internal.
- Keep a Gratitude Journal. Record something you are grateful for each day and remember to revisit what you’ve written.
- Go for a walk and appreciate the weather, nature, and the views. Bonus points if you are completely “unplugged”.
- When you find yourself in a bad situation ask yourself what you can learn. Try to remove emotions and identify how it could become something you are grateful for.
- Think of the people you love when you are doing things that feel overwhelming. For example, cooking dinner. Think of the people you are feeding instead of the dishes that will need to be cleaned.
If you are struggling with ways to find gratitude in even the small things, please reach out to our team to help guide you.
“Be thankful for what you have; you’ll end up having more. If you concentrate on what you don’t have, you will never, ever have enough.”– Oprah Winfrey