The best Christmas present: 25 days of gratitude
Christmas can be a time of happiness, joy and family coming together to celebrate a special time of year. It can also be a time of crazy stress, money spending, difficult decisions and… family coming together (because let’s face it, everyone together in a small space can really go either way sometimes!).
Why should we practice gratitude?
While practicing gratitude doesn’t always fix stressful occasions, it can help reframe our mind and give us something more positive to focus on – even if it’s just for a moment. That moment may be all it takes to give you the space to take a breath, and find some sense of calmness in whatever situation you’re in.
Studies have also shown gratitude may help improve physical and mental health, improve sleep, enhance your self-esteem among other things; so very much worthwhile!
Here are 25 not-too-cheesy ways to find a little gratitude; one for each day of December to last you through until Christmas. Because being grateful for things – like most skills – takes practice…
25 days of simple gratitude practices
- Thank someone in your life for no particular reason; just because you appreciate them.
- Pay someone in your life a compliment. It could be a coworker, family member, friend…
- Share a positive post or quote on social media.
- Sincerely thank someone for the service they provide you; a bank teller, coffee barista, checkout operator…
- Think of three physical attributes about your body that you are thankful for and that you love.
- Think of three personal strengths you like about yourself and be thankful for them.
- Write a handwritten thankyou note to someone for something you’ve appreciated.
- Think of something that really bugged you this week and try to reframe it. Angry customer at work? Be thankful you have a job to earn money. Kids asking too many questions? Be thankful they are learning every day.
- Donate some time, money or possessions to a charity or organisation you feel deserves it. This doesn’t have to be a lot to make the intent behind it still worthwhile.
- With your eyes closed, take several deep, slow breaths into your belly and be thankful for having life.
- Write a nice review in a letter, email or on social media for a service you appreciated lately.
- Find some flowers in a garden or at the flower shop; take a moment to smell their scent and appreciate it.
- At the end of the day, write down on a piece of paper five things or people you appreciated having in your life today.
- Nurture a friendship; book in some quality time with a friend and let them know you appreciate them.
- Meditate with a gratitude theme. Spend several minutes with your eyes closed thinking of all the things in your life that you are grateful for. You don’t need to dwell on anything for too long and they don’t need to be big things; the ability to see, walk, communicate. The clothes you are wearing. The people in your life. See where your train of thought takes you.
- Appreciate a higher power that’s bigger than you; it doesn’t have to be God – it may be science, nature… what makes trees grow, how snowflakes are created, what makes rhythmic waves at the beach.
- Set random reminders in your phone or computer calendar to find gratitude in something relevant at that moment.
- Watch a comedy act or movie, or share some jokes with a person you know. Smiling helps us find joy and gratitude in life!
- For several minutes, focus your attention on something in the future that you’re really looking forward to.
- Turn off your cellphone, ditch the music/earphones and spend some time in nature really noticing it. The wind, water, sunshine – sounds, smells, sights etc.
- Wake up with gratitude – make a list of all the things you’re grateful for from your morning. A good sleep, a comfortable bed, delicious coffee, nourishing breakfast, beautiful weather…
- Take some time out for yourself during the day to do something you really genuinely love – just for you.
- Write out a positive quote or affirmation and put it somewhere where you will see it and be reminded of it all day (on your phone’s screensaver, your computer’s background, a messageboard in your house, or a post-it note on your desk).
- Give someone a hug and really mean it. It can be a family member or a friend, or even a pet. Maybe not someone too random you don’t want to come across as creepy.
- Take a moment to have gratitude before a meal (a great one for Christmas Day!); where did it come from? Who picked it, harvested it, shipped it, packed it, cooked it? How many people worked hard to get it on to your table?
If you need any help with any of these let me know. What other small ways do you practice gratitude? I’d love to hear about them in the comments below!
Image / NZ Real Health