How to Practice Gratefulness this Holiday Season
Between calculating the cost of the turkey dinner and dealing with your loving but crazy family, thankfulness can be the last thing on your mind. Even Forbes says that depression increases steadily over the holidays due to a rise in stress. In this quick article, I outline how to practice gratefulness during this hectic holiday season.
Gratitude journals increase your happiness
Two Harvard professors conducted a clinical study on two groups who were asked to write gratitude prompts on a weekly basis and compared them with a group of people who wrote about their aggravations and their general outlook on life. The results indicated that a majority of participants in the first group reported higher happiness levels. No matter what your current situation is, practicing gratitude can help you overcome frustration and refocus your mental energy. Start by writing out things that you are thankful for in a journal. Whatever positive thing happened during the day, write it out, or try writing a thank you card for someone who needs some encouragement.
Related Article: Learning and Relearning Gratitude
Meditation decreases anxiety
By practicing taking a short, intentional break during your day to meditate your brain forms positive connections. According to Psychology Today, a consistent use of meditation decreases anxiety and increases your positive emotions about yourself and your situation. If you are religious, prayer is a wonderful way to connect with a higher purpose and meaning. Reciting scripture can help you focus on what really matters. Even if you do not practice a religion, mindfulness is a powerful force in understanding your intentions in daily life. There are several free mindfulness apps you can try on your phone if you want a quick way to unwind and focus.
Related Article: How I learned gratitude in my illness
Volunteering decreases blood pressure
Carnegie Mellon researchers discovered a connection between participants in a study of adults over 50 who volunteered versus those who did not volunteer. Results show a positive trend between volunteering and healthy blood pressure. Through volunteering, you choose the unique opportunity to think of another person over yourself. The feeling of helping others can be its own reward. Check out your local library to read to children or help out by picking up trash at local parks. Find something you feel passionate about and make a difference through getting involved with local nonprofit and government agencies to help your fellow neighbors.
Albert Einstein once said, “There are only two ways to live your life. One is as though nothing is a miracle. The other is as though everything is a miracle.” I hope you take the chance this holiday to celebrate the good alongside the bad. Because holidays are about taking the time to slow down, say thank you, and believe in something bigger than yourself.
Download my free gratitude journal and use the hashtag #thankfulnesschallenge.