Not everything holiday is a celebration. Sometimes holidays can be tinged with sadness or anxiety. Grief often resurfaces when loved ones are missing from our yearly traditions. Perhaps we are far away from family and spending our holidays longing for the familiar. All sorts of emotions can run high during holidays. What we focus on expands. When you focus on the goodness in your life, you create more of it. Most of all, the ability to focus on gratitude and thanksgiving, improves your overall health.
Clinical trials show that practicing gratitude can lower blood pressure, improve immune function, and promote better sleep. Studies are even showing that people who write in gratitude journals have better heart health, less inflammation, healthier heart rhythms, lower cortisol, and better eating habits. Appreciating what we have balances our hormones and makes us feel good. Gratitude changes how we perceive our life and even our relationships.
The good news is you don’t have to FEEL it, you can CHOOSE it. By choosing to be grateful and happy (whether we feel that way at the time or not), we are literally choosing better physical health. This is one of the easiest and cheapest changes to make!
Each morning, I write five things that I am grateful for in my journal. Sometimes it’s little things like the hummingbirds who congregate at my feeders, the flowers that bloom in my yard, or the Bradford Pear Tree that turns flaming orange in the fall and blossoms so pretty in the spring. It may be big things like my wonderful husband or my healthy children. Doing this in the morning, sets a cheerful positive tone for the day.
Finding small acts of kindness to bestow is a great way to gain a thanksgiving perspective. This could be volunteering with children in your community, helping at a soup kitchen, or a visiting the elderly. Maybe it’s making a meal for someone going through a hard time or helping a neighbor in some way. It could be paying for the person behind you in the drive through. Perhaps it’s even returning those rogue carts in the grocery store parking lot or picking up a stray piece of litter. Do the things that make our world a happier place to live in for everyone and enjoy the physical benefits for yourself.
It might be helpful to post reminders. Make yourself notes or find a printable on Pinterest. Put them up around your house. Let the visual reminder retrain your thoughts and keep you reflecting on the positive. Don’t save your gratitude for one day a year. Live a thanksgiving lifestyle. Find ways to be grateful every day! You can even share your gratitude on Facebook. Be sure to tag the Guardian!