As we turn the calendar to “November,” many of us immediately think of Thanksgiving and the ensuing period of inevitable holiday stress. It doesn’t matter how much you love the holidays, it’s hard not to get stressed out when we add to our already hectic daily routines the additional efforts involved in preparing for holiday meals, guests, parties, and Christmas shopping.
Last year I attempted to offer some tangible steps for dealing with the holiday stress. This year, I’d like to get a little “new age-y” on you and focus on some more intangible ways you can remain calm amidst the holiday frenzy by truly giving thanks this Thanksgiving and developing an “attitude of gratitude.”
Write it down.
A dear friend of mine says she has been able to retain her sanity during some very challenging times by keeping what she calls a “positivity journal.” Every night before she goes to bed, she writes down at least one positive thing that happened during the day. As the saying goes, at least according to the memes I’ve seen on Instagram, “There is always, always, always something to be grateful for.” Taking the time to focus on the good things in life can help make the hard things seem less daunting.
The two M’s: Mindfulness and Meditation.
While keeping a positivity journal is one way to practice the concept of “mindfulness,” meditation is another. I know that Mindfulness and Meditation are both very new age-y sounding words, but they really are not all that “far out.”
Mindfulness is just a way of taking control of your own thoughts, making a concerted effort to focus on the present moment while pushing away concerns and stressful thoughts. Meditation basically just involves relaxing for a short period of time. If you can get comfortable, close your eyes, and just focus on your breathing for a few moments each day, it can be a great escape from the concerns and stressors that may seem to have taken over your brain.
(Tip: if you have a Fitbit Charge 2, select the “Relax” option and follow the instructions for either two minutes or five minutes of guided breathing exercises. Voila! You’re meditating!)
Some people like to repeat a positive word or phrase in their mind as they meditate. Maybe saying “thank you” or “gratitude” would help you shift your focus to something positive, if only for a few moments. Voila! That’s “mindfulness!”
It’s so easy to fall into the trap of taking for granted all the good things in our lives, when in reality, there are so many people out there who are dealing with much worse. Although of course we know we should be helping the less fortunate all year long, there seem to be more opportunities to do so during the holiday season. If you can volunteer to do something like help collect food for your food bank, ring a bell for the Salvation Army, participate in a toy drive, or serve lunch in a homeless shelter, it will not only spread hope and compassion to someone who needs it, it will help you feel good about yourself and will serve as a good reminder that you have a lot to be thankful for in your own life.
If you can develop an attitude of gratitude during this season of Thanksgiving and keep it throughout the year, research shows you will probably be healthier, more productive, and happier in the long run.
Of course, you can’t rely on mindfulness and attitude to completely alleviate all your stress this holiday season, so let me offer you one tangible tip: Before you host your Thanksgiving dinner or your holiday party this year, call Immaculate Clean to schedule a Holiday Clean! Just think about how thankful you’ll be for your clean home!