Written by Samantha Wall, LCSW
Edited by Joe DeNoon
The holiday season can be such a mix of emotions. It is an amazing time of year, as well as a really hard time of year. From celebrations, family get-togethers, gifts, and all the activities during the holiday season, it can be easy to get caught up in how things should be or to set really high expectations. The holidays can also be painful reminders of loved ones no longer here to celebrate with you, money struggles, or that the year is coming to a close. When I think about the practice of gratitude during the holiday season, I try to always consider that gratitude can just be very difficult to focus on, especially when the holidays bring stress and grief.
However, practicing gratitude for the hard, stressful, or overwhelming situations during the holiday season can help us make it through and make it a little easier. When I bring in the concept of gratitude into my therapy sessions, it can be very hard to buy into the concept of gratitude. There is a reason why we are wired to focus on the negatives! I have discussed this topic before when I discussed gratitude. This concept is called negativity bias. Negativity bias is the tendency to focus and dwell on the negative stimuli in our lives. This bias comes from our need to survive; if we focus on the negative stimuli in our lives, we are more likely to survive. Unfortunately, this bias can cause issues in relationships, decision-making, our perception of others and ourselves, as well as make a time like the holidays even more stressful! When we shift our focus to gratitude, it can make it easier to see the other positives.
Francine discussed giving thanks for ‘negative’ things as a way of living a life with gratitude. There can usually be two ways to look at a situation, and if we shift our focus to a positive, it makes that situation easier to manage. Francine also had other great suggestions on how to implement gratitude into our daily lives in the previous blog, make sure to check it out!
Here are some other great ideas on how to incorporate gratitude into the holiday season:
- Give yourself and others a chance to think! It is okay to sit and think about what you are grateful for in life. Taking time to reflect can give us a more authentic answer and reason.
- It is okay to not be overly grateful about everything! We want gratitude to feel real, not forced.
- Talk about your gratitude with those close to you. Sharing our gratitude with others can not only help us decrease stress during the holiday season, it can help others with being grateful as well!!
Remind yourself that gratitude is a practice for a reason. If you find yourself getting in a more negative mindset and feel that increase in feelings of stress and overwhelm, taking a minute to shift that mindset can be so powerful! To end, I will say what I am grateful for this week: I am grateful for the flexibility of people around me. This week has been filled with needing to schedule and reschedule things because I am not in my routine. People have been flexible with me and other situations, and that is something I am so grateful for this week!
Other video to watch about Gratitude: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eLnAbkdXgCo