Practice gratitude for a happier, healthier holiday season


Around the same time last year, Covid pushed my family, like many others, to quash annual holiday traditions and settle for smaller, more intimate gatherings. During these dinners, bottles of hand sanitizer lined a socially distant table like chic centerpieces. These kinds of sterile suppers were a far cry from our previous happy holly jubilees where everyone hugged and ate from the same shareable plates.

It is with a huge sigh of relief that many of us are able to resume a more traditional life. holiday evening this year, while remaining cautious. But as we come back from last season’s unconventional celebrations, it’s important that we gently cope with the frantic pace of the holiday rush. If you’re not careful during this busy time, it’s easy to get carried away by all the hype.

The return to in-person celebrations after last year’s calm lull may make this season more eventful, said Scott Glassman, director of the master’s program in applied positive psychology at the Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine. “We tend to speed up, especially as we notice a lot more items on our to-do list. It takes us away from our presence, ”he said. “Getting caught up in controlling our vacation experience can cause us to miss the fun and meaning every step of the way. “

Last week we focused on a way to reduce the stress we feel in our bodies with a stretching routine to relieve pain and stiffness. This week, let’s focus on our minds.

»READ MORE: Stress less week 1: A series of stretches to better manage stress

We hear the term mindfulness a lot. If you’re unfamiliar, it basically means being there. A state that can sometimes seem difficult to achieve, but gets easier with practice. By mastering the art of mindfulness, we can savor the present and reduce symptoms of anxiety, depression, and stress related to the past or future.

So how do we become more attentive? “The more you feel yourself speeding up, the more you want to ask yourself to slow down,” Glassman recommended. “Once the brakes are on, fully explore the event with what I call an ‘in depth’ question, like ‘What’s special about me? In this way, we are more likely to feel the fullness of love for others, to enter states of reflection and remembering, and to deepen our appreciation of what we have.

Between giving gifts, hosting events, and juggling family obligations, we can start to lose touch with the real reason for the season, which is to be thankful. Gratitude and mindfulness go hand in hand. “Mindfulness takes us from a deficit state of mind to a state of mind of wholeness rooted in the present,” Glassman said.

If you are new to mindfulness practices, Glassman suggests trying two daily exercises to help stay in the present and promote a deeper sense of gratitude:

Write it. In Glassman’s new book, A happier you, he shares ways to more fully integrate gratitude into your life, such as keeping a gratitude journal where each day you write down something you are grateful for. For this exercise to work, don’t think too hard. You can be grateful for something as basic as breathing. “You might think, ‘This one breath brings me to a more relaxed place,’ Glassman said. In addition to keeping a journal, Glassman recommends sharing the gift of gratitude by writing a note of appreciation to someone you admire.

Find five minutes just for yourself. Everyone has five minutes to spare in their day. Spend a minute or two first as a “gentle observer of your breathing and everything that is going on around your breath, whether those are stressful thoughts about a vacation or something you must. do that day, ”Glassman said. Your goal is to allow whatever arises to be present.

Then use the next three minutes to elicit positive feelings. Try one of these three techniques: think of something you are grateful for, imagine something you are looking forward to, or remember something someone said or did that made you feel good about it. your skin.

“For the last minute, stay immersed in the pleasant feelings that you have created,” he said.

By making a habit of practicing mindfulness and gratitude, you will flourish more not only during the holidays, but also in your everyday life.

Ashley Blake Greenblatt is a Certified Personal Trainer and Wellness Coach in South Jersey. Learn more about its virtual training program at


About Author

Comments are closed.