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Filed Under: Educational
How to Practice Gratitude During The Holiday Season (and Everyday)

How to Practice Gratitude During The Holiday Season (and Everyday)

By Michelle Lunger

Every year, especially during the holiday season I find myself searching for all the things to be grateful for. But in reality, we don’t need to find gratitude, it finds us. Think about it; all the things you are grateful for are the things you already have. Whether it is within you or around you. When we practice gratitude regularly, it helps us feel more fulfilled along the way. I know, it’s hard to see everything you have that fulfills you when your cup is constantly spilling. This has been especially hard for me because this year wasn’t the easiest and was probably, if not the hardest, year of my life. I’ve dealt with loss and grief and sometimes it’s all I can see. But those moments really bring to the surface what and who is most important. I am grateful for all the progress I have made despite my setbacks. I am grateful for all the people in my life that have been there through it all. And lastly, I am grateful for all the “little” things in between. Most importantly, I am trying to find gratitude for myself because it hasn’t been easy and it won’t always be easy, but I am proud of my strength for getting through whatever comes my way. Building that gratitude will keep my cup filled so when it spills, I will still have something to pour.

I hope this blog post helps you find ways to fill your own cup and to learn how to practice gratitude through not only this season, but any season. Practicing gratitude can be so beneficial to anyone- especially those who are struggling with their mental health or mental illness. It can help us find positivity in our daily lives despite any negativity that comes our way. It has also been proven to decrease stress, improve overall mental well-being, improve relationships, satisfaction, optimism, and appreciation. 


How to Practice Gratitude During The Holiday Season (and Everyday)

1) Through Journaling

One of my favorite ways to practice gratitude is through writing down the things that I am grateful for. I know it seems simple, but it is a written reminder of the things that are most important to you. It can really put your thoughts into perspective, helping you realize what is most important and what isn’t. You can do this by starting your day and writing down your gratitude as a prompt, or even end your day with it too. You can also use that list or prompt as a reference sheet and a reminder of why you should keep going or keep fighting. If you do this daily, you will find more and more things to be grateful for- some will be daily reminders and others might surprise you. If you have trouble keeping up with journaling or find a blank page too daunting like me, I definitely recommend a guided journal. 


Here are some of my favorite guided journals:


2) Through a written letter

I feel like most people think of writing a letter to others, but you can even write one to yourself. I definitely want to try this one day because I feel like it is a good way to reflect and thank yourself and others. You don’t have to end up mailing it. The process of just writing the letter- whether handwritten or typed out-  is the lesson here in practicing gratitude. And for others you can do the same through an email, a call or a text. It really shows your appreciation, thought, and effort. And it also lets someone know that you are thinking of them. It can be a really therapeutic process for whoever you are writing to, even to yourself. 


How to write a self-care letter to yourself:

Writing a Thank-You note article:


3) Through Meditation

One way I practice gratitude through meditating on all the things I am grateful for. You can sit tall and let the gratitude grow through you or even relax, lay down, and close your eyes. Sometimes for me, it is hard to just meditate without guidance so giving yourself a set plan on what to meditate on can be helpful. You don’t always have to write out things you are grateful for or say them out loud. Repeating them and acknowledging them in your mind can be just as powerful. You can even visualize the things you are grateful for and see if that brings you joy and relaxation after. Even if you don’t have the time to add meditation into your schedule or if it seems daunting, try to practice gratitude when you have a moment to sit and think. Even if you are drinking coffee, making breakfast, or showering. It helps you take a moment to be present and appreciate where you are at or what you are doing. 


4) Through Affirmations

Another great way to cultivate gratitude is through affirmations. You can start your day with this, end your day with this, or even give yourself a quick little pep-talk throughout the day. When you say your affirmations over time, it will instill your mind with positivity, motivation, and even confidence while replacing any negative thoughts you may have. The more you say them, the more you will believe them, keeping your cup filled even if it “spills.”


100 Gratitude Affirmations:,steps%20I%20achieve%20each%20day.


5) Through a gratitude jar

A gratitude jar can be a great physical reminder of all the things you are grateful for. It can even be a good ritual to physically put gratitude into practice. To start a gratitude jar, all you need is some paper (post-it notes work great), a pen, and a jar to put them in. Write each thing you are grateful for and then add them to the jar. Throughout time you will see your jar fill up. And when it does, or when you have a tough day it can be a good way to reflect. Have fun with this! Decorate your jar, put it in a place where you will be able to reach for it whenever you need to, and get excited to write each one out and fill up your jar. Write on colorful post-its, use colorful pens, and stickers. The whole experience in itself can cultivate gratitude on its own. Especially at the end of the year it can be a good way to reflect on all the things you are grateful for throughout the year- some things you wrote down may surprise you and some you may have forgotten about and it can always be a good reminder. 

6) Through reflection

Sometimes when we spend all of our time reaching our goals it can be hard to feel like we earned them or appreciated them. It can even feel like imposter syndrome. For me, especially when it comes to my mental health, everything seems too good to be true, even if I put in the work. Sometimes I feel like I am spending all of my time trying to fill my cup, but I still have nothing to pour on my good days.  If you feel similarly, try this- I will too. Every time you reach your goals or every step of the way, take a moment to reflect and be grateful for everything that got you to that point. That will help you cultivate gratitude and you will feel more fulfilled along the way. It can be a good reminder of how you got to the place you wanted to be rather than being like “this is it?” It will help you grow appreciation for yourself and the process. I know it’s easier said than done, but this is something I have been trying and it helps combat my “all or nothing” thought process. It is also a great way to reflect each year, each day, week, or month. And even if you don’t reach your goal or something new comes along the way, it will help you still feel content.  


7) Through prayer

If you are religious, prayer is a great way to cultivate gratitude. And if you are not religious, send a prayer into the universe with your thanks and gratitude. Praying can be a great way to strengthen our spiritual well-being and our overall mental health.


Overall, practicing gratitude is definitely worth trying and can be very rewarding. It is a great way to reflect on what is most important in our lives and realize what isn’t. Gratitude helps remind us of the positivity in our lives, even during times of struggle. And if you are struggling right now, keep going. Use your gratitude as a guide, reference, and a motivator to keep fighting. If you try any of these tips on how to practice gratitude or if you already do this, let us know! Do what you need to do to fill your cup before filling others. Happy holidays!