Ho ho ho! Merry Christmas! Hold on. Before we start hearing jingle bells and thinking about New Year’s Resolutions, we get a wonderful day – preferably filled with loved ones and turkey – to really reflect on what we are thankful for. However, many of us are from families that are not as close, may be separated, or just nonexistent… whatever the case may be, you are not excluded from the Thanksgiving conversation. Whether it is Aunt Lucy hogging all the mac and cheese casserole or feeling we have no one to celebrate with and are by ourselves, our challenges are unique and individual. But no matter what family or social dynamic we find ourselves in for the holidays, we are more than likely going to experience some level of stress or anxiety. Thanksgiving, ideally a day we reflect on what we are thankful for, can drum up a lot of mixed emotions so it is important we arm and prepare ourselves. Here are 3 quick and dirty ways you can focus on positivity and gratitude during a time when maybe it is hard to feel or notice things to be grateful for.
2. Do not be afraid to be thankful for YOU!
2020 has been CRAZY to say the least! Please do not hesitate to count yourself in your blessings when trying to be thankful during Thanksgiving. You lived through one of the most unexpected and challenging pandemics that has plagued the earth in over a century. You have either had to navigate the new world of Zoom or some other internet platform to take over work and/or schooling. Also, you have had to make your own sacrifices with friends and family this year too. It has not been easy. However, you have not only survived, but thrived. Be kind to yourself and recognize the strength that you have shown and have had this past year.
3. Resist “Mask wearing”
As we touched on above, 2020 has been hard. It can seem like we have to put on a good face for the holiday season and mask what we are truly feelings. I encourage the complete opposite. Do not suppress your negative emotions or feelings. Instead, acknowledge them and share them with a trusted friend or family member. Proceed after doing this giving yourself the grace to not avoid your emotional state. Resist the urge to paint on a smile and maybe replace your responses of “everything’s great!” or “no, I am actually super happy!” with “eh, not so good overall but I am moving forward” or “I have good days and bad days”. Being willing to be more authentic and vulnerable in our relationships offers us a safe space. It may also surprise you with how others might feel more comfortable to share with you their own struggles, too.
Wherever you find yourself this Thanksgiving, please practice the three things listed above to better help you find peace and gratitude this year. When we stop comparing our lives to others, say a word of thanks for ourselves, and not be scared to share how we really are feeling it offers much more opportunity to enjoy the holiday. Be kind to yourself this Thanksgiving and take time to rest and reflect on the positives, you are worth it. If you do feel overwhelmed or are struggling during these times please reach out for help and don't go it alone, a friend, family member, or even a great therapist can truly be a life-saver!
Written by Therapist Hanna C.