Does your family go around the table at Thanksgiving and have everyone say what they’re thankful for? This seems to be a common tradition at the beginning of the holiday season, but as the season progresses, we see more and more of us lose sight of this gratitude.
The holiday season is bombarding us weeks before it even begins; with commercials, ads, a full calendar, cooking stress and much more. Our society has turned the holidays from a warm and welcoming family gathering, into a greedy, commercialized, stress filled, over expectation suffering holiday. It is no news that holiday stress is becoming an all time high over the last few years. All you have to do is google, ‘Holiday Stress’ and hundreds of links come up about coping with the holiday stress, how to avoid it, or how to skip it all together. Northeastern Psychology Professor David DeSteno says that we can actually alleviate some of the holiday stress by practicing active thankfulness and gratitude. The general idea is the more you can focus on what you are thankful for, the more your emphasis on what is important during the holiday season shifts. From gifts, schedules, and trying to please everyone, to gratitude for what you already have, the family you can spend time with, and the traditions you participate in.
He says the best way to accomplish this is to add it to your daily routine. If you start your day with a cup of coffee, take a moment at your kitchen table and tell yourself a few things you are thankful for that day. If you read a book before you get into bed a night, tell your partner or write down in a journal some of the small things through out the day that you are grateful for.
David DeSteno goes further to say, by doing this we have better impulse control, we’re easier to talk to, we have more empathy for those around us and actually choose to be active in our short and long term relationships.
This can be a great way to reconnect with yourself around the holidays. We so often put self care last when we’re so busy worrying about pleasing everyone else. There are so many people in the world that have much less than us. Being grateful for what we do have can help us refocus on what really matters as the New Year starts.