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Thankful vs. Stressful: Cultivating Gratitude This Holiday Season

The holidays are upon us! And with that often comes a significant increase in stress. What's supposed to be a time to reflect on the year, think about what we are thankful for, and enjoy time with our families can often end up being a whirlwind of gift buying, food prepping, and running around to dozens of holiday activities and events. This kind of stress can harm our mental and physical well-being. Some people begin feeling depressed when the high expectations we have set for the season aren't met. Others become run down and exhausted from trying to cram in too much. Doing a little bit of thoughtful preparation can be extremely helpful in managing stress during this time. The holidays don't have to be so overwhelming! Check out these tips from the Mayo Clinic on coping with holiday stress and read more below.

thanksgiving holiday tablescape
Focusing our attention on the things that truly matter can cultivate gratitude when navigating busy seasons

Try focusing on what you are grateful for in your life by using these tips:

  1. Keep a Gratitude Journal: Dedicate a few minutes each day to reflect on the positive aspects of your life and jot them down in a gratitude journal. Acknowledge even the small moments of joy, kindness, or accomplishment. Regularly reviewing these entries can foster a greater sense of appreciation.

  2. Express Gratitude to Others: Take the time to verbally express your gratitude to the people in your life. Whether it's a friend, family member, colleague, or even a stranger who made a positive impact, let them know you appreciate their actions. Sharing gratitude not only strengthens your connections but also spreads positivity.

  3. Focus on the Present Moment: Practice mindfulness by being fully present in the current moment. Take notice of your surroundings, your senses, and the people around you. Gratitude often flourishes when we become more attuned to the richness of our daily experiences.

  4. Turn Challenges into Opportunities: Embrace a mindset shift by reframing challenges as opportunities for growth. Instead of dwelling on difficulties, consider what you can learn from the experience or how it might lead to positive change. This shift in perspective can instill gratitude for the lessons learned.

  5. Volunteer or Give Back: Engage in acts of kindness and generosity by volunteering your time or resources. Contributing to a cause you believe in not only helps others but also fosters a sense of gratitude for the ability to make a positive impact. Being of service to others often leads to a deeper appreciation for the blessings in your own life.

Incorporating these practices into your daily routine can gradually enhance your ability to be more thankful. Gratitude is a skill that, when cultivated, has the potential to bring about positive changes in your mindset and overall outlook on life.


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