The holidays, while wonderful and delightful, let’s face it – can also be challenging for our mental, emotional, and spiritual health.
The hustle and bustle can cause burnout and stress for even the most put-together of us, and finding ways to decompress and put yourself first in the middle of a high-pressure holiday season can be, say the least, tough.
But you don’t need hours of downtime or to shell out lots of dough for some fancy spa day or massage to find some relief from the merry madness. Sometimes all you need are small but impactful, practices to help lower stress levels and boost the release of feel-good hormones.
Studies have shown that a gratitude practice is one of the best ways to bring more joy and peace into our lives, and the holiday season is definitely no exception.
You may actually be tempted to put your practice on hold for the holidays or to gradually skip it from one day to the next in an effort to create more time and space in your life for the errands and chores and responsibilities that come with the season. It starts as ‘just for today,’ only to find yourself soon skipping it for the entire month of December. Oops.
But the holidays are when we can benefit the most from the practices we’ve put into place throughout the rest of the year, and the perfect time to supplement them with even more gratitude to keep us focused, joyful, and sane.
Read on for five ways to practice gratitude to boost your wellbeing this holiday season, and remember, we’re with you, deep-breathing through the chaos right alongside you!
1. Carry a citrine crystal with you in a pocket or purse.
Citrine is well known to cultivate a thankful mindset and draw even more to you for you to be grateful for, which can act as a life raft during times when you’re dealing with family dynamics, money stress, and all the other pieces that make up the holiday puzzle.
Citrine keeps your perspective clear and gracious and helps you focus on keeping the bright spots of your life front and center, reminding you to find the sunshine through the clouds no matter how thick they become.
Carry a small piece of citrine, raw or polished, in your pocket or purse throughout the season for a quiet but powerful boost to your levels of joy, abundance, and gratitude.
2. Take a few moments in the morning to write down your gratitude.
This can seem like an obvious one, but it’s something so many people skip!
Taking five minutes or so in the morning to record even as few as two or three things you’re grateful for has a positive impact on how you start your day and what type of mindset you carry throughout it. Try recording your gratitude in a journal or in the notepad or an app on your phone to make this practice easy and quick.
3. Choose an accountability buddy.
This is one way to both practice gratitude and brings a friendship closer: enlist a friend to share something they’re grateful for with you each evening and you share something with them in return!
Make this a ritual you both look forward to each evening. Make a phone call out of it so you can hear each other’s voice and laughter, or agree to send a funny gif along with your gratitude for the day. If you have a few more minutes, you can take it even further by making yourself a cup of tea or cocoa before sitting down to share your gratitude – creating an experience out of it.
4. Practice a gratitude ritual.
A ritual is a way to bring gratitude into your spiritual practice and impact your experience of the holiday season energetically. We’ve chosen a ritual that only requires a few items that you’ll likely already have at home and doesn’t take too much of a time investment.
What you’ll need:
- lavender essential oil
- a candle (preferably white)
- a coin (preferably a quarter but any coin will work)
Step 1: Anoint the candle with the lavender oil and carefully light the wick
Step 2: Place a few drops of lavender oil on your pulse points; the inside of each wrist and behind each ear
Step 3: Take the coin in your right hand and gently close your eyes
Step 4: Think of one or two things you’re grateful for and visualize gratitude pouring into the coin from your body
Step 5: When you’re ready, open your eyes and blow out the candle
Keep the coin with you throughout the holiday season and repeat the ritual occasionally to keep the grateful energy activated.
5. Create a gratitude jar
This is one of our favorite things to do around the holidays here at Smudge because it culminates in such a powerful way!
Choose a jar, it can be an empty peanut butter jar or something fancier, and keep a pad of paper and pen next to it. Each night, write something you’re grateful for from the day on a small strip of paper (you can have your other family members participate too!). Place your paper in the jar.
All through the holiday season, fill your jar with pieces of paper outlining an expression of gratitude that makes you smile.
At the end of the season, you can choose to do this either on Christmas or on New Year’s, take all the pieces of paper out of your jar, and enjoy reading through them. Let the gratitude flood over you and surround you with joyful energy to carry into the next 12 months.
No matter how you choose to practice, creating space for gratitude in your holiday schedule not only brings a sense of joy and warmth to the days, it also quite literally changes your brain. Practicing gratitude helps neural pathways become re-grooved over time, turning your brain into a positive-thinking machine.
What does that mean? Boost your wellbeing this season with your gratitude practice, absolutely, but don’t forget to carry your practice into the new year to reap the benefits of gratitude over the long term!
Be sure to share with us at @SmudgeWellness which practice or practices you decide to bring into your holiday season!