Keep a Gratitude Journal
and Reduce Holiday Stress
As you approach Thanksgiving each year, are you already overwhelmed by holiday stress, as you frantically rush around trying to get everything finished? Rather than feel gratitude, do you feel burdened by the guests who may be showing up, frantic about buying and preparing all the food, and exhausted while you are setting out your best china and silverware? Are you worried about the relatives who always seem to drink too much, argue too much or just get moody during the holidays? Are you already thinking ahead to the Black Friday sales on the day after Thanksgiving, knowing that by the time that day rolls around you are going to be desperate for a little shopping therapy?
Perhaps you need to take time for a little gratitude break on Thanksgiving. Whenever you are feeling holiday stress, it is time to pause, take a deep breath, focus and think about everything that you have to be grateful for. Although it won't make all your problems go away, it could help put them in perspective.
So, how do we go about showing gratitude at Thanksgiving when your in-laws are coming, your house is a mess, the kids are sick, and your life feels completely out of control? The best way to begin is to make a list of all the things you have to be grateful for. Many people even jot things down in a gratitude journal that they keep handy.
Gratitude for Your Thanksgiving Dinner
Whether you are serving roast turkey or roast chicken, or even pasta in front of the TV, you will still have food to eat on Thanksgiving. Be grateful. Some people will go hungry. Are you going to be using fancy dishes, or will you be eating on fancy paper plates while everyone relaxes in from of the television and watches the football games? Either way, your meal will be special, and that is something to celebrate. Don't get stressed over always having to recreate the formal dinner that your grandmother pulled together. It's not the food or the china that makes Thanksgiving memorable; it is the people you spent it with and the camaraderie you shared.
Gratitude for a Day of Thanksgiving Relaxation
For most of us, Thanksgiving is at least a partial holiday. We get the day off work, and we have time away from our normal routine. After our Thanksgiving dinner, it is typically a day that we can enjoy with our family and friends, watching television, taking a stroll, going to a movie, or even just taking a nap on the sofa. This day of relaxation is certainly something we need, and we want to be certain that we take a moment to savor and appreciate it.
One source of holiday conflict often comes when people think that relaxation means getting drunk. You'll find that people will get along better and enjoy one another's company more if you minimize the amount of alcohol that is available. True relaxation doesn't have to involve an excess of liquor.
Gratitude for our Family and Friends
Are you going to be getting together with people you care about? It doesn't matter whether you are spending the day with family, friends or neighbors, people you see every day, or people you rarely see, it is a blessing to be able to spend time with people you care about and who care about you. But what if you are alone and away from friends and family? You don't have to stay alone. You can always volunteer your time at a homeless shelter or senior center. Spend the day helping others celebrate, and you'll have a better day, too.
More Reasons for Gratitude
While you are making your gratitude list, or jotting your thoughts down in a gratitude journal, think about other reasons you have to be grateful. Do you have an income, a warm place to sleep at night, clothing, transportation, or hobbies? These are all reasons to let that warm feeling of gratitude fill us up and flow over us. There are so many people around the world who are barely surviving. There are people in war zones, people in jail, people in hospitals, and those who are homeless. Anything we possess is a reason to be grateful.
Has Someone You Love Improved their Life?
Although sometimes we may feel sad because of the life choices made by people we care about, we need to rejoice and feel grateful when we see them making some good decisions, too, even if they aren't able to completely turn their lives around. Has someone you care about given up cigarettes, alcohol or drugs, even if just for a little while? Or, if they haven't given up these habits completely, have they been able to just cut back a little on these habits? Rather than point out their failures, celebrate their accomplishment.
Have your kids improved in their schoolwork? Has a teenager in your family made a sports team, raised their grades, or gotten a part time job? Has an adult child begun a new career or been able to move out on their own? Has a pregnancy produced a healthy baby? All of these are true reasons for celebrations!
Using Your Gratitude List
Now that you have made a list of all the reasons you have to feel gratitude at Thanksgiving, are you just going to tuck the list away in a drawer and forget about it? Why not ask your other family members to jot down a few reasons they are grateful this winter, too? Then, along with the prayer you may traditionally say before your Thanksgiving dinner, you can each share some of the items from your gratitude lists. As you listen to your family and friends share the reasons they feel grateful, you may suddenly realize you have even more reasons to be grateful than you knew! Sharing our gratitude with other people we love will put a rosy glow on that holiday dinner ... even if the peas are burned and you forgot to buy cranberry sauce!
No matter how much money you spend on your family, or how perfect you try to make everything, the best gift you can give your family is the sense of well-being and contentment that comes from spending happy times together.
For other helpful holiday ideas, you may also want to read some of the articles listed below:
A Journal is the Best Way to Remember to be Grateful
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