By Staff of Forum Health Las Colinas
The holidays are traditionally a time of joy, fellowship, and love. But they can also be a time of stress, exhaustion, even sadness and depression. So, how do you keep the holiday spirits high, despite all the craziness? It can be as simple and powerful as practicing gratitude.
Gratitude can help you appreciate what you have, focus on the good things in your life, and keep you healthier—mentally and physically.
Gratitude and Mindfulness
The practice of gratitude is a key element of mindfulness. Mindfulness, simply put, is the ability to be fully present at any given moment, aware of your thoughts and feelings without distraction or judgment.
While living in the present isn’t always easy, it’s vital to your wellbeing. Indeed, it can be challenging to focus on the “now” when you’re constantly reminded of the past—like during the holidays. Yet, being able to stay present with what’s happening in your life right now can bring much-needed relief and balance to your life.
And while there are many ways to practice mindfulness, one simple way to immediately turn things around is through gratitude. It’s almost like an instant pivot when you’re feeling down or stressed.
Benefits of Being Grateful
Gratitude is defined as a feeling of appreciation or thanks. This appreciation can be for something another has done for you or a gift they’ve given you. It can also mean just being thankful in general. And both forms of gratitude are incredibly beneficial. Some of the benefits of gratitude include:
- Reduced stress
- Stronger immune system
- Better mental health
- Increased optimism
- More satisfying relationships
- Improved mental strength and resilience
- Better physical health overall
These are just a few of the powerful benefits of a gratitude practice. So, how can you start practicing gratitude right now? It’s easier than you may think.
How to Share Gratitude
The fastest way to start practicing gratitude is to tell someone else that you appreciate them. You’d be amazed at how much a simple “thank you” can do — not just for the other person but for you as well.
Here’s how easy it is: Think of something someone in your life did today that you appreciate. It could be as simple as emptying the dishwasher or making the bed. Now, walk up to that person and say, “Thank you for XYZ. I appreciate it.” They may push back a bit because we’re all a bit uncomfortable when someone thanks us for something “we should just be doing anyway.” Yet, you’ll find that they will brighten up immediately — and so will you.
You have many ways to show gratitude to others, especially during the holidays. You can volunteer at a local community organization (if you’re able to be there in person), donate to a cause you believe in, even drop off some homemade cookies in your neighborhood. Focus on the meaning of the season — spreading joy to others — and you can’t help but feel more joy yourself.
How to Start a Daily Gratitude Practice
Showing appreciation to others is fantastic and will immediately improve your mood. When you add a daily gratitude practice to this, the sky’s the limit in terms of how good you can feel.
Here’s a simple way to start practicing gratitude every day: As soon as you wake up in the morning and before you start your daily routine, think of three things you’re grateful for. Then do the same thing before you go to bed at night. At first, it may be a bit tougher to think of three things you’re grateful for; but the more you do it, the easier it will get. Pretty soon, you’ll see things all around you that make you feel grateful!
You can also keep a gratitude journal so you can jot down things you’re grateful for when you think of them. It’s a fantastic way to free your mind of those negative thoughts: When you notice you’re feeling a bit stressed, angry, or frustrated, try to stop for a moment and think of something you’re grateful for. Then write it down. You may be surprised at how fast those negative feelings can dissipate.
Having a journal will also give you something to refer to in moments when you need a boost. Plus, when you focus on what you’re grateful for right now, it makes it easier to see the future in a positive light.
Our Providers at Forum Health Can Help
If you feel like it’s tough to feel grateful these days, and you need some help with your overall wellness, come in and see us. While we are not psychologists, we are able to thoroughly identify and treat any physical issues that may be contributing to mental and emotional problems.
Often times we find that hormonal imbalances, gut health issues, nutritional deficiencies, and food sensitivities can all contribute to feelings of depletion, signs of an underlying illness, and more. We can also provide guidance and/or referrals to help with your mental and spiritual health, and most importantly, our compassionate providers can be just the starting point you need and can be a big part of your support system.
The human body is a miraculous thing, and once steps are taken to restore you back to health, you will start to feel better quickly and will be on your way to a better quality of life filled with vitality and greatly improved health and wellness!