All too often the holiday season is a whirlwind of parties, cookies and family. The holidays can be tough–they remind us of all that we have, but they can also remind us of all that we’ve lost. It’s easy to lose track of yourself with all of your engagements and obligations and turn to the gingerbread men for some stress relief and comfort.
But those gingerbread men offer little in the way of support. Before you know it, you’ve got a cold, you’re tired, run down and it’s only the second week of December.
Spending some quality time nurturing the non-food areas of your life is so important to finding balance. But how do you stay mindful in the midst of the holiday tornado?
Here are four easy ways to practice gratitude this holiday season:
- Make a list. Every morning, write down five things that you’re grateful for. The sunlight, your warm blankets, your hot coffee–your other, your home. Keep this list in a pocket-size journal that you can carry with you throughout the day. When you’re feeling down, take it out and read over your list.
- Carry a reminder. I carry a small pebble in my pocket to remind me of all of the things going well in my life. It’s easy to get distracted and lose track of the positive. Feeling the physical pebble in my pocket reminds me to stay focused.
- Find a mental image that makes you smile. When I’m feeling a little empty, I think of something that makes me smile– something that can pull me back to reality. For me, this image is my dog, Chester, smiling up at me on our daily walk. Seeing his little face fills me with joy and instantly changes my mood.
- Give hugs. A study from the University of North Carolina found that hugging your partner for around twenty seconds significantly reduced cortisol (stress hormone levels). So go forth, give hugs and show gratitude for your friends and family.
How do you practice gratitude during the holiday season? Feel free to share in the comments below.