Gratitude Is Good for Stress

The holidays season can be stressful. Many of us think Thanksgiving is a time to give thanks and then move on to celebrate the many other winter holidays for their own reasons. But, practicing gratitude throughout the holidays can lower stress and help you enjoy yourself more.

The holidays are a busy time that can be filled with pressure. “The more you feel yourself speeding up, the more you want to ask yourself to slow down,” said Scott Glassman, director of the master of applied positive psychology program at the Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine. “After the brakes are on, explore the event fully with what I call a ‘deep dive’ question, like ‘What is special about this to me?’ This way we are more likely to feel the fullness of love for others, enter into states of reflection and remembrance and deepen our appreciation for what we do have.”

A great way to start practicing more gratitude is to just pay attention to how frequently you say “thank you” over the course of your day. We say it all the time as a habit. Think for a moment afterward about how the person helped you. After a while, you will find yourself feeling more positivity when you say thank you, rather than it just being a reflex.

Another good way to feel more gratitude is to keep a journal where you write daily about the good things in your life. It doesn’t matter if they are mundane. It also doesn’t matter if they are events, people you know or even aspects of yourself that you like. Simply writing down things you are thankful for each day can give you a powerful boost. You should also speak to people about your gratitude. When you’re grateful for someone’s friendship or their help, let them know. It strengthens bonds and boosts their day!

Volunteering can be an excellent way to make you feel more grateful; as you help others, you get a boost. You feel thankful for your ability to help others. However, finding volunteer positions around the holidays can be challenging. Lots of people are moved to volunteer at this time of year. However, it’s something to look for now and do in the spring because practicing gratitude helps you year-round.

Writing letters and Christmas cards to loved ones who live far away can make you feel grateful to have friends and family you care about. You can also send cards to old friends with whom you have fallen out of touch and rekindle old relationships. Another thing to do is write forgiveness letters to people who hurt you in the past. You don’t necessarily have to send them if you don’t want to reconnect. But, the act of writing them can help you let go of old hurt and let you move on feeling lighter and happier with your current life.  

Remember that practicing gratitude daily is a learned skill like any other. It takes practice, and you will have slips and setbacks. Finding the right time to journal and learning your limitations is essential. Maybe one of our suggestions fills you with dread instead of sounding relaxing. Nothing is suitable for everyone. Each person’s journey is different. But, finding ways to feel thankful each day lowers your stress and helps you enjoy your life, and the holidays, more!

Banner image: Sixteen Miles Out via Unsplash

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