Some Gratitude Can Aid Happiness this Holiday Season

It’s easy to get bogged down and stressed during the holiday season. Yes, the holidays are a time of fun. But they can be a lot. They are a time for family and celebration. But they can be a time for grief and loneliness as we remember people we have lost and people we won’t see over the holidays. While they can be a time for excellent parties, they can also be a time for worrying about budgets and bills.

It might be the most wonderful time of the year, but having it shouted at you from every speaker in every store you enter can be overwhelming and wear you out! That’s why taking time out over the holidays and reflecting on your feelings to recenter yourself is essential. Allowing yourself to reflect and feel grateful can be healthy and helpful.

You don’t have to make it a daily task. Bing Crosby extolled the virtues of counting your blessings in the classic White Christmas. But trying to count your blessings more than once a week can actually take a toll on your mental health. You lose the benefit as it begins to feel routine or like a chore. You might have difficulty finding things to feel grateful for daily. That, in turn, can make you feel guilty or like your life is less meaningful.

Sharing your life with others can make your days brighter. Even if you can’t be with loved ones this holiday season, you can reach out to others and share your time with neighbors and people in your community. Connecting with people is rewarding and fills your day with happiness.

If you write down things you are grateful for, you experience boosts in positive emotions, life satisfaction, optimism, connectedness and decreases in loneliness. The results are even more pronounced if you write letters to people in your life that you are grateful for to tell them how much they mean to you. You get the same elevated results if you tell the person via text; it doesn’t have to be a letter. Interestingly, posting a message to the person on social media doesn’t give the same benefits. Researchers think that might be because we censor ourselves when we post online. You are more honest and open when speaking privately.

Over the next few weeks, remember that reflecting on your life and feeling grateful for what you have can substantially improve your happiness. However, don’t try to make it a task you have to do; that will undo its benefits. The holidays are a wonderful time of year. But they are difficult for many people, and it’s okay to admit they are stressful! If one of the things you’re grateful for is that January is coming soon, that’s okay too!

Banner image: Towfiqu Barbhuiya via Unsplash

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