Taking care of ourselves, and our mental health during a pandemic isn’t easy. Since the Coronavirus pandemic began, we’ve all been feeling stressed. It is hard to continue to feel thankful and experience gratitude when we are stressed. Most people are dealing with a change in their lives right now: losing a job, family/friends dying of COVID, missing out on major life events, distance learning…
Today is Thanksgiving. Many people are not able to participate in their traditional Thanksgiving traditions. Some people are even facing missing out on what is likely to be a family member’s last Thanksgiving. How do we remain thankful on a day all about giving thanks when these are the circumstances?
According to Harvard Business Review, “We experience gratitude when we shift our focus from what we don’t have to what we do, and when we take time to appreciate and be thankful for those who have contributed to the abundance in our lives.” People who regularly experience gratitude tend to have better relationships, and generally be healthier and happier.
If we want to trigger gratitude in ourselves, we need to intentionally shift our focus to what we are grateful for. It is easy to focus on the state of worry or what is not going well around us. Here are some questions you can ask yourself to help shift your focus:
- What have I learned recently that has helped me to grow?
- What physical abilities am I likely taking for granted?
- What have I seen or experienced lately that is beautiful?
- What have I improved upon in the last year?
- Do I have someone in my life I would hate to lose?
Answering even just one of these questions can redirect our attention and possibly even help us reflect on how much we have that brings us joy. As I said, it is easy to get sucked into a pattern of focusing on the negative and failing to practice gratitude. One way to make sure you are thankful each day is to keep a gratitude journal. Try to visit it each day and write down as many things as you can.
Practicing gratitude can also just become a habit if you make it part of your daily routine. Whether it is when you first wake up or before you fall asleep at night, you should make a mental note of things you are grateful for. It can totally shift your outlook on the world, and help your mental health.
It is also easy to get repetitive or less creative when practicing gratitude. If you are struggling to come up with things to be thankful for amidst the terrifying statistics of COVID and devastating daily headlines, I have a list you can work from:
Our senses – Sight, sound, touch, taste, these are all things that can be taken away from us. Do you have all of these? One of these?
Our bodies – Can you still walk? Do you still have memories? Are you able to breathe on your own? Your heart, lungs, brain, bones, skin, bladder, come up with some part of your body that you are thankful to still have functioning properly.
Medicine – Do you have health insurance? Do you have access to medications? Have you seen a doctor or therapist lately? These are all things to be thankful for!
Money – It is apparent what we cannot afford. Shift your focus to what you can afford. Are you still earning money during these times when so many are losing their jobs? Were you simply able to pay just one bill on time during the last billing cycle? Try to focus on what is going right with your finances.
If you can afford your home, food, or clothing, you can always be thankful for that!
Water and air – Do you have access to clean drinking water? Is the air you breathe clean? Not everyone can say that it is for them. Or their children.
Do you get to experience sun? Snow? Rain? Trees? The sound of birds or waves? Take in the things around you and be thankful for them.
I hope everyone is able to enjoy their modified Thanksgiving today and truly takes some time to focus on what you can be thankful for and have gratitude for. Try to take this practice forward daily to help get you through the rest of this pandemic. There’s light at the end of the tunnel. I am truly thankful for all of you who read my posts and engage with me on social media. You’re my reason for waking up and doing what I do. You’re part of our tribe. Our community. Thank you!