Thanksgiving may have passed, but practicing gratitude year-round, especially during the holiday season, is beneficial to you and everyone around you. It will improve your state of mind, as well as that of everyone you come across during your day.
Holidays can be a stressful time for anyone- if you are gathering with family, you may be spending time with people you disagree with or do not get along with. If you are not gathering with family, it can be very isolating to see everyone you know leave to spend time with their families. There is also a stretch on everyone’s time and budgets. All of these are causes of stress. Even if everything goes well during your holiday gatherings, the pressure to look festive and happy at all times can cause stress. Although the winters in the Rio Grande Valley bring very pleasant weather that leads people to enjoy the outdoors, in more northern climates the cold air and lack of daylight can cause Seasonal Affective Disorder. All of these reasons can cause the “holiday blues” (which should not be confused with clinical depression).
One way to combat the holiday blues is to practice gratitude- remind yourself of all the reasons you have to be thankful. If you are with your family for the holidays, show them appreciation and remember all those who are away from theirs. Consider inviting a friend who might be alone. If you have a roof over your head, remember those who do not, and volunteer at or donate to local shelters. Helping those in need brings light to their lives and also to your own. If you are away from family, volunteering is also a way to reach out and connect with others. A simple smile and “thank you” to everyone who helps you during the day will brighten their day, and put you in a more positive frame of mind.
At the McAllen Public Library, we have lots of books that can provide inspiration for adding more gratitude to your life:
101 Ways to Say Thank You: Notes of Gratitude for all Occasions by Kelly Browne
Gratitude by Oliver Sacks
The Gift of Thanks: The Roots and Rituals of Gratitude by Margaret Visser
The How of Happiness: a Scientific Approach to Getting the Life You Want by Sonja Lyubomirsky
Thanks!: How Practicing Gratitude Can Make You Happier by Robert A. Emmons
Thanks!: How the New Science of Gratitude Can Make You Happier by Robert A. Emmons
Thank You Power: Making the Science of Gratitude Work for You by Deborah Norville