As we move into the holiday season, things get busy and many of us start to feel the stress and anxiety build. Thoughts of prepping our home for family visits or traveling to see family that live out of state can provoke worry and tension. Additionally, this time of year also carries a large financial burden that many families struggle with.
Backed by Research
One way to cope with the added stress of the holiday season is by practicing gratitude. As the name implies, Thanksgiving may be an especially good time to focus on gratitude.
helps people feel more positive emotions, relish good experiences, improve their health, deal with adversity, and build strong relationships.
explored the effect of keeping a daily gratitude journal versus focusing on things that caused irritation. For 10 weeks, participants either wrote about what they were thankful for or what irritated them. Unsurprisingly, those who focused on gratitude were not only more optimistic and had better feelings about their lives, but they also exercised more and had less visits to the doctor’s office.
has shown gratitude not only reduces stress, but it may also play a major role in overcoming trauma. A 2006 study published in Behavior Research and Therapy found that Vietnam War Veterans with higher levels of gratitude experienced lower rates of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. Additionally, researchers at the
University of Kentucky
found that having more gratitude is linked with enhanced empathy and reduced aggression. Which could come in handy when dealing with those not-so-nice relatives.
Ways to Cultivate Gratitude
Gratitude helps people focus on what they have versus what they lack. This quality, in particular, makes it a great tool to have during the holiday season when it can be easy to compare ourselves to others or focus on what we don’t have. Here are some ways that you can cultivate gratitude in your life on a regular basis.
Start a Gratitude Journal.
It only takes a minute or two to jot down the things you are grateful for.
Write a Thank You Note.
Expressing gratitude to others can be incredible rewarding for both you and the recipient.
Practice Mindful Meditation.
Aim for at least 5 minutes of practice each day. Focus on all the things you are grateful for.
Join a cause that’s important to you.
Those who donate time, money, resources, etc. tend to experience more happiness and gratitude.