We’re in that time of year: the run up from Thanksgiving to the December holidays, right through to New Year’s. A lot of us are looking back on the year that has passed and also looking towards the year to come. This is a time of reflection and anticipation. It’s a time to come together with loved ones and celebrate. There are also office parties, school parties, neighborhood gatherings. There is online shopping, trips to the mall, traffic jams, and winter weather. It can be both festive and frenzied.
For some people this time of year can be challenging, even lonely. We can be thinking about loved ones who are no longer with us. For some people, the reunion with family and friends can bring up tensions that are difficult to deal with. Sometimes the pressure of feeling you need to be merry all the time, of having the best dish for the potluck, or the perfect present for each person is just too much.
One way to navigate all the highs and lows of the holiday season is to focus on what we are grateful for. Being able to reflect on our blessings, the gifts we already have, really helps us move past any external pressure and connects us to the joy and fulfillment in our hearts.
Writing down what we are grateful for takes it one step further. Keeping a gratitude journal can be a great tool to stay grounded and at peace. For my patients, I often recommend jotting down a few things in a journal before bed. It’s a great way to wrap up the day and prepare your mind for slumber. There’s actually scientific research on gratitude journaling. Studies have found that people who kept gratitude journals had higher scores in their overall mental health, happiness, and had fewer visits to the doctor.
So as you navigate this holiday season, let gratitude be the golden thread that weaves its way through all those parties, shopping expeditions, and traffic jams. And if you are wondering what might be the perfect gift to give someone, consider giving them a gratitude journal.
And, PS: don’t forget to write a thank you note for all the gifts you receive too!