I can picture it now – the table is beautifully set and filled with delicious food. All of the people I love are gathered around as my Dad gives thanks for the meal. We’re all ready to dig in. My mom stops everyone and asks us to go around the table and share one thing we are thankful for. After a few groans of protest, we all begin to share some of the things that bring us gratitude and joy. This always brings a warm and fuzzy feeling, hugs, and sometimes a few tears. Once we’ve all had a turn and we are feeling grateful, Mom gives the queue: Let’s Eat! Welcome to Thanksgiving at my house!
The holiday season is such a busy and fun time for a lot of people. However, for others, it is full of sadness and overwhelming stress. No matter what your situation or feelings about the holidays, research suggests we can all benefit from feelings of gratitude. Our brains even release different hormones when we show gratitude and if experienced regularly gratitude helps to combat anxiety and depression. Maybe my mom is onto something after all!
As with most habits, we want to change or new practices we want to try, and it can be hard to know where to start. Below are some tips to help you begin your journey toward leading a life with more gratitude and overall wellness. Beginning to focus on the positives and showing gratitude can lead to less anxiety and/or depression all year long.
Start a Gratitude Journal
Each day jot down 1-3 things that you are thankful for that day. Over time, you will notice feeling grateful for a wider variety of things….things that have likely been there all along. But now, you are more aware of them. You will find that you develop a more positive view of your life instead of getting caught in the cycle of negative thoughts.
Count the Kindness
Keep account of random acts of kindness that you do or experience throughout the week. Did someone hold the door for you? Maybe someone allowed you to cut in line in traffic. Perhaps a random stranger paid for your meal. Even the smallest acts of kindness can help you begin to be more grateful. Begin to be intentional about being kind and noticing the kindness and generosity of others. Do you want to take it a step further? When you find yourself feeling grateful, tell someone! It’s like spreading holiday cheer!
Share Your Gratitude
Take some time to write a letter or go visit someone in your life who you are thankful for. Sharing words of gratitude will likely give both you and the other person an instant mood boost. Along those same lines, a simple visit and reconnecting with those you care about is like giving the gift of your most precious commodity: time.
Maintain the Thanksgiving Mindset
A lot of families take turns sharing what they are grateful for on Thanksgiving. Try taking that idea outside of the holiday season. Make it a tradition once a week at the dinner table or end your weekend by telling your family or mate what you enjoyed about each of them over the week. Showing and sharing gratitude helps you feel more connected to loved ones and also decreases stress and improves your mood.
Start by adding one of these simple tips to your routine to help you feel grateful more often. You might be surprised at just how much a little effort and intention can change your perspective and mood.
If you’re struggling to change your focus from negative thoughts and feelings of anxiety and depression, reach out to us today. Our therapists are here to help guide you back to a place of wellness and gratitude. Read about our team of highly trained therapists and their specialties or make your appointment today.
You might also enjoy reading our blog, How To Use The Power of Positive Self Talk.