The Thanksgiving holiday is going to look and feel different this year. Traditions are being adapted to practice safe social distancing, like navigating technology to host loved ones at the same table virtually.
Here’s an invitation for you to try activities that will inspire an “attitude of gratitude” and treat Thanksgiving as a holiday to boost resilience. Giving thanks can include a range of actions including reflection on what you are grateful for, extending appreciation to others, and being intentionally generous and kind. By giving thanks we are connecting and through this effort we are boosting resilience and experiencing benefits to our mental health and happiness.
The benefits of gratitude include:
- For Body: stronger immune systems, improved sleep, increased amount of exercise
- For Mind: more joy, less loneliness, more progress toward important personal goals
- For Community: strengthens and deepens relationships, builds participation in community efforts, supports optimism by knowing that others are there for us.
- For more information, see the Mental Health and Happiness Series Gratitude Summary and Resources.
When we feel our resilience level is lower, we can do activities that provide a resilience boost. By being resourceful, we build new skills and commitments that can support our mental well-being. By trying a variety of practices you’ll discover the techniques that work best for you based on your own values and goals.
Gratitude activities to try:
- Spread kindness: Whether as formal volunteering or a casual interaction, seek out an opportunity to share kindness and appreciation with others. By caring for others, we in turn see these benefits for ourselves, as part of the whole. Set a goal for your act of kindness.
- Take a broader view: Seek out reports of generous, kind and compassionate actions that people are doing locally and globally. Write about what you are grateful for with our common humanity.
- Explore your surroundings: Notice what you are grateful for in your environment, inside and outside. Give prominent placement to items that spark positive emotions and gratitude. Personalize your gratitude expression: Bring to mind someone dear to you and reflect on what you appreciate about them. This mindful reflection sparks warm feelings of connection, even when we are not together. Next, express your reflection in writing or through conversation.
- For more activities, use BCHD’s Mental Health and Happiness Gratitude Activity Worksheet
It’s the intention that counts. Through tough times, “normal” days and peak positive moments, taking time to pause for gratitude is worth a try. In any way that you celebrate Thanksgiving, be intentional about the connections you are nurturing. Even when we are not eating at the same table we can still share hearty conversations, savor sweet memories and pass along kindness. Gratitude is an invitation to connect, at any distance.
Gratitude is included in the Mental Health and Happiness Series workshop experience. You can get started at bchd.org/series and are welcome to do this at your own pace. There’s a introduction session to meet a group for accountability and encouragement on Saturday, December 19 from 11 a.m. - Noon. Visit https://bchd.org/series to accept this Thanksgiving invitation.
References research by:
Robert A. Emmons, PhD
Sonja Lyubomirsky, PhD