With the holidays almost behind us, our thoughts have turned from our food and friend-filled frenzies to what some people find to be a more isolating and daunting time of the year – the end of 2017 and the beginning of 2018. At this time of the year, as the weather changes and the unfulfilled objectives of the past year become all-consuming, practicing gratitude can become a much more challenging task than when sitting around the turkey just weeks before. It can be hard to find time to be thankful for what we have – at least, in a non-superficial and fulfilling way; as regularly practicing gratitude takes commitment, effort and time. And while it is an incredibly important exercise, it should be not only enjoyable but life-enhancing. While it may feel difficult or daunting to do, with practice, the ability to embrace gratitude more regularly can be not only healthy but extremely rewarding.
Here are 4 simple ways to actively practice gratitude year-round:
Pick a time at the beginning or the end of each day (or every other day) to write down one thing that you’re thankful for. Maybe it’s your good health, your home, your job, your pet – anything that brings you joy. Take a moment to write down why you’re thankful for that thing. Then sit on it. This 5-minute exercise can be daily, or monthly – any time that you’re feeling particularly grateful for something in your life. This exercise is useful because it not only forces us to actively reflect on the things that make our lives great, but it also provides a positive focus for us to reflect on when things feel less than good.
Embrace moments of mental quiet.
The world moves so fast that we seldom stop to appreciate what is around us. Scheduling time to work out, to go for a walk, to color, or to meditate can give us the distraction-free time we need to really feel grateful for the life we have – even the ability to take time for ourselves and to think about what we are grateful for is something to feel gratitude towards!
Don’t forget to look back.
At this time of year, especially when we’re looking to make resolutions for the New Year, it can be difficult to appreciate the efforts it took us to get to where we are. Take time to look back and reflect on what your goals were a year ago, five years ago, and ask yourself what it took you to get to this place. Looking back at your past successful efforts can help you appreciate where you are now, and motivate you to keep moving forward.
Make it personal.
At the Thanksgiving table, or on social media posts, the inclination is to make gratitude something quantifiable or tangible (#blessed). By making gratitude something more personal, that you keep to yourself, it can not only feel less superficial but can also be internalized more easily because you don’t feel the need to share it with anybody but yourself.
So, as 2017 comes to a close, don’t forget to look back on your year and to be thankful for your many achievements and blessings – you and your mental health will thank you for it.
Looking for support in your gratitude journey? We would love to have the opportunity to work with you. Please get in touch with us either through email or phone, and we will be happy to provide you with a fre15-minutete phone consultation with any/all of our therapists to ensure that you find the perfect fit!