4 Ways to De-Stress & Give Thanks
It’s the time of year for family, gratitude, and hospitality . . . right? It’s also the time of year for the constant bombardment of holiday ads, navigating family commitments, end of year work deadlines, overcrowded freeways and airports, and colder and darker days. So, it’s easy for the holiday season to feel more stressful and gloomy than merry and bright.
When your mindset is mired by holiday chaos, it’s hard to feel grateful. However, this is easily solved! All you need is a change in perspective. Here are four simple ways to reap the benefits of gratitude and enjoy the warmth of thankfulness.
Make Gratitude Sharing Fun
It can be cringe-worthy to go around the Thanksgiving table and announce what you’re thankful for. Here’s how to make it fun: while everyone is sitting around watching football, prepping dinner, or nibbling on afternoon appetizers, pass around some pens, paper slips and a jar (aka the Gratitude Jar). Have everyone write down something they are grateful for and add it to the jar - the more creative, the better - “I’m thankful for my family” won’t cut it.
Later in the day, after a few beverages, pass the jar around for a game of “Guess Who.” One person draws a slip and reads it out loud. If the person to their right can guess the author, they keep the slip. If they get it wrong, the slip goes back in the jar, and the jar gets passed to the next person. Whoever collects the most slips at the end wins!
Spending a day volunteering at a homeless shelter is wonderful, however sometimes holiday plans get in the way. If you’re looking for a new way to give back this year, here are some other ideas:
Make some new friends at a local nursing home. The benefits are mutual; your presence brightens their day and you go home with newfound wisdom. Here’s how to find a nursing home near you.
Short on time? Why not donate to an event you love? CrowdRise allows you to give money to hundreds of organizations from building playgrounds in Rwanda to supporting Boston Marathon charities.
Give your unused shoes and clothes a second life. Encourage your guests to arrive for the holidays with items from their closets they’d like to donate. Then, use a service like GiveBackBox. Just print out the free prepaid shipping label, seal up a box, and help someone in need!
Take a Walk
In between turkey and pie, go for a family walk. Not only will this help with digestion, it will allow you to absorb the autumn foliage and the crispness of the air. As you walk, take note of as many positive things as you can. These can be sights, sounds, smells or other sensations. As you begin to notice beauty in the little things, point out your discoveries to your family and they will join your mindful appreciation.
Practicing gratitude helps us realize what we have and puts life into perspective. “Mental Subtraction” is a simple practice to help with this. Start by thinking about the most important people in your life - they could be friends, romantic relationships, and family members.
Then think about how a particular person came into your life. Try to recall your first memories together. Think about the joyful moments that have come from this relationship. Then consider what your life might have been like had you never met that special person. How would your life be without them?
Now that you have considered how things might have turned out differently, appreciate that these relationships were not inevitable in your life. Allow yourself to feel gratitude that life happened as it did. Practicing Mental Subtraction will open your eyes to the table full of smiling faces sitting next to you come dinner time.
Is it realistic to do all four of these things this holiday season? Maybe not. But, I promise that if you prioritize more time for thoughtful appreciation and less time for hacking holiday headaches, not only will you enjoy this season more, but those who love you will enjoy you more.