November 2023

Giving Thanks: Gratitude in Challenging Times

The holiday season is traditionally a time for joy and togetherness, but we understand that it can be a bit more challenging for some. Whatever you're facing, one of the simplest and most accessible ways to lift your spirits is by embracing gratitude. It's a little beacon of light in any situation, reminding you of the good things surrounding you, no matter how small.

The Importance of Making Time for Gratitude 

Gratitude is a grounding force that helps us cultivate patience and happiness. People who frequently practice gratitude are more likely to focus on the present, reducing anxiety about the future. A study published in Psychological Science found when people focused on being thankful, they were better able to demonstrate patience. In doing so, they can better reduce stress in the moment. Studies have also found that practicing gratitude predicts other positive behaviors, such as helping others and exercising. Gratitude allows us to affirm the good things we’ve received and those we already have.

Easy Ways to Work Gratitude Into Your Routine

The greatest barriers to gratefulness are forgetfulness and a lack of mindful awareness. So here are a few ways to work gratitude into your routine. Pick one interaction daily to reflect on before or after saying “Thank You”.

Keep a gratitude journal! Here are some things to keep in mind when starting your gratitude journal.

Get specific. “I’m grateful for my sister” is a good start, but “I’m grateful that my sister came over to help me with household chores on Sunday.” is even better and more effective at fostering gratitude.

Avoid repeating. This is where getting specific can come in handy. It’s easy to default to “I’m grateful for my spouse.” Instead, ask yourself, “What about them, or something they’ve done today, am I grateful for?” 

Try subtraction. Imagining scenarios where you don’t have what you do have can offer a new perspective.

Use visual reminders. Putting sticky notes, signs, or stickers in places around your home where you will frequently see them is an easy way to call attention to gratitude. Other ways to utilize gratitude are in conjunction with meditation and prayer or sharing your gratitude with others. Let people know you appreciate them and the things they do for you. Even if it’s as simple as someone holding the door for you. Simple doesn’t mean insignificant. 

Remember, start small. If you don’t have time to sit down to gratitude journal, that’s okay! Taking a few minutes during your day for gratitude, wherever you have space, whether that’s in the car, in the waiting room, or even while brushing your teeth, can significantly improve overall satisfaction and offer a moment of peace.

If you or a loved one could use a break to recharge, try Applying For A Respite. In the meantime, explore our other relevant resources like Finding Inner Balance: The Transformative Benefits of Mindfulness & Meditation, How to Avoid Caregiver Burnout, and Healthy Habits for Caregivers.