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Gratitude is the Best Christmas Gift

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Christmas can be a crazy time, we’re caught up in a whirlwind of buying gifts and parties, but often gratitude takes a back seat.

Gratitude, or expressing thankfulness, isn’t just a nice thing to do, it can be something very powerful. There is research which shows that spending a few moments on gratitude can help to lower stress, improve your health, boost happiness and help to build stronger relationships – all of these things are more important than ever during the festive period.

Here are our suggestions for 6 gratitude exercises you can use to help you count your blessings and keep Christmas stress at bay.

  • Make a List of things you’re Thankful for

Take a few minutes each day to reflect on the positive things that happened and write them down. You can then look back at the list if you start to feel overwhelmed or frustrated. You can also refer back to it at the end of the Christmas break when you’re thinking about your goals for next year, what things are you grateful for and how can you make more of them in the year to come?

  • Take a Breath and Get Some Space

When Grandad has brought up Brexit (yet again) and the children are fighting (again) and you can feel your stress levels building up, take a time out and move into another room – or have a bathroom break, or walk the dog – and focus on something else for a while. Take a few deep breaths and think of something, or someone, that brings you joy. When you feel better, you can get back into the thick of it.

  • Start a Gratitude Jar

Find a big jar and keep it somewhere easily accessible, then throughout the year you and your family can write down all the things that they are grateful for and pop it into the jar. On New Year’s Day, get the family to take turns in picking out the notes and reading them out loud to help you remember all the good stuff in your lives and share each other’s joy – you might be surprised to see how much the good outweighs the bad – what a great way to start a new year!

  • Write a Grateful Place Card

Ask everyone who will be around your table for Christmas lunch to select the name of another guest and write a note about that person, saying what they love and appreciate about them. Place the notes at each person’s seat at the table as a place card. Once you’ve all sat down at the table, ask everyone to take their turn to read their card out loud and share what was written about them.

  • Undertake Random Acts of Kindness

It’s easy to become all consumed and insular during the festive season, but doing something for others is a great way to make you appreciate what you have. You could do something as simple as smiling or having a brief chat with a frazzled cashier in the supermarket, or buy and extra toy to hand in to a local charity, donate some food to a food bank, volunteer at a soup kitchen or homeless shelter.

This year, as we have for the past few years, we aren’t sending Christmas cards. Instead, we have donated the money we would have spent on cards and postage to Crisis at Christmas, this has reserved spaces for homeless people to attend one of their centres where they can get a shower and clean clothes, have a Christmas lunch, get a haircut and have access to advice on how they can get off of the streets. It’s a great way to make you appreciate all you have, and think about all that others are without.

  • Don’t Make your Expectations Unrealistic

Your social media will be full of photos of everyone’s perfect Christmas trees and perfect table settings or immaculately wrapped presents, but remember that it doesn’t have to be perfect. Consider unplugging from social media for a few days if you find it all stressing you out and focus on the joys your own life has. Get outside and have some fresh air and exercise, you’ll find that some of that stress disappears.

While the festive season has its share of challenges, focussing on the things that you’re grateful for can help you see things more clearly. Acknowledging to ourselves, as well as to others, what we are able to do helps us to reset our thinking and perspective, which can help us reset our mood. Be gentle with yourself and others during this crazy and more emotional time of year and you’ll make it through in one piece.

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Gratitude is the Best Christmas Gift 14 December 2017, 16.36 Sharon
Gratitude is the Best Christmas Gift
Christmas can be a crazy time, we’re caught up in a whirlwind of buying gifts and parties, but often gratitude takes a back

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