Hectic days can feel a little less hard with a little bit of mindfulness.
The end of the year can be a stressful time. In fact, studies show that more than a third of Americans feel more stressed around the holidays.
Ironically, it’s also a time of togetherness, joy, and gratitude. But all of the extra festivities, potentially taking on more responsibilities in your personal life, and worrying about end-of-year deadlines or taking time off of work can really add up.
“During the holiday season, people report worrying most about time, money and the commercialism of the holidays. It is a hectic time of year where, in addition to the daily demands of work, home and health, people worry about gifts, shopping and cooking, accommodating family and decorations,” reports the American Psychological Association. “Under normal circumstances, many feel there are not enough hours in the day; during the holidays, people feel pulled in even more directions. Many simply wonder where the time will come from.”
It might seem impossible to take some time for yourself in the last few months of the year, but little actions can make a big difference and help alleviate stress. Slowing down can be difficult to do, but there are always a few moments for incorporating a gratitude practice, whether it’s with journaling or living by an affirmation that speaks to you.
A gratitude practice is one of the best ways to show yourself a little self-care, especially when it’s a stressful time for a few obvious reasons: Not only can you implement it into your life in so many ways, it’s scientifically proven to be useful and make you feel happier.
Plus, it can be done in just a moment or two, without a significant investment needed.
“In positive psychology research, gratitude is strongly and consistently associated with greater happiness,” write Harvard Health experts. “Gratitude helps people feel more positive emotions, relish good experiences, improve their health, deal with adversity, and build strong relationships.”
In one study, two psychologists asked one group of participants to write down a few sentences related to gratitude each day and another group to write about irritations they experienced throughout the day. After 10 weeks, the psychologists found that those who focused on gratitude felt happier, less stressed, and even visited the doctor less than those who focused on the negatives of their day.
This research points out something we all mostly know to be true in our daily lives: whatever we dwell on will become our main focus.
Even more important is that it multiplies!
Focusing on one negative thing leads to another and then another, and before you know it, it’s all we’re consumed by. But flip the switch and it’s easier to invite positive thoughts into your life.
If you could use more patience, calm, and happiness in your life, gratitude could be a good place to start. Just like in the study above, you may want to grab a journal and start recording some of the things you’re thankful for each day.
Another way to incorporate gratitude into your daily life is by choosing a gratitude affirmation for each day or each week. Write it on a post-it, say it to yourself in the mirror, or reflect on the thought each night before bed.
Choose to focus on messages that resonate and invite gratitude into your life.
Here are a few gratitude affirmations that you can use for yourself:
Affirmations for feeling grounded
- I am in charge of my own reality.
- I’m thankful for this moment of calmness
- Everything I need right now I have.
- I am exactly where I need to be.
- I trust myself to make the best decisions for myself.
- Only I can decide how I feel.
Affirmations for seeing the good
- I can find the silver lining.
- My timing is always right.
- I will learn from the challenges I’m presented with.
- Even in the chaos, I can find joy.
- I choose to have a positive attitude.
- I’m grateful I have the ability to choose what is right for me.
Affirmations for feeling grateful
- I’m surrounded by people who care about me and my wellbeing.
- I’m thankful for the opportunities in my life.
- I’m thankful for growth, even when it’s hard.
- My actions are intentional and invite gratitude into my heart.
- I’m grateful for resilience and the power of looking forward to tomorrow, no matter what it brings.
- I cherish those who I choose to have in my life.
Affirmations for times of stress
- There is space for me.
- My worth isn’t tied to materialistic things.
- I let go of negativity and embrace gratitude.
- My value isn’t based on performance.
- I deserve rest no matter what I accomplish today.
- It’s okay to say no to things that don’t serve me.
- Guilt is a feeling, not a fact.
These affirmations can be used in a variety of ways: as journal prompts, a mantra that you use to start your day, or a phrase you can contemplate over during meditation.
And experts are even pointing to “gratitude walks” as an even more powerful mindfulness tool.
Author Cheryl Rickman says it’s a practice that’s helps her get into a state of well-being and away from her worries:
“Walking also empowers you to open your mind. As I walk I experience this wondrous realization that all shall be well, that everything (good or bad) happens for a reason and that, either way, it's a win-win; i.e. even if everything doesn't work out precisely as you wish it to (and, let's face it, life is life and bad stuff happens) you'll still benefit in from being thrown a curveball or obstacle to navigate round.
You'll learn a vital lesson you needed to learn; you'll take a different path that is actually better for you than the one you were on; you'll re-assess and make a change, or you'll grow stronger as a person and appreciate what you were striving for even more when you get there, because you WILL get there, as long as you believe and express gratitude for what you already have.”
Whether it’s a holiday season packed with events, end-of-year deadlines, or both, try to slow down for just a few moments a day and focus on the things you’re grateful for. You’ll soon find that you’re in charge of how you feel and you have the power to make it a little easier.