A Guide to Practicing Gratitude

We often hear about how the holidays are a time to give thanks. However, with the hustle and bustle this season brings, from shopping to hosting parties to traveling, the holidays can feel more like an obligation than a celebration. Because of this, we decided to gather the best advice around to share about how to practice gratitude during this hectic holiday season.

Breathwork can lead to gratitude

Deep breathing is perhaps the most effective tool to use in times of stress, anxiety or uncertainty. It’s also helpful when practicing gratitude. Breathing grounds us, it enables us to detangle from our thoughts and feel our bodies, something that is needed when focusing on people, places and things we’re grateful for.  

Taking time to breathe in the moment and let yourself settle allows a busy mind to rest more easily. Study after study has proven that the power of breath can soothe the mind, body and spirit. Those who practice meditation know the mental and physical benefits of calming the mind. Conscious breathing boasts similar results, with those practicing breathwork experiencing more focus and a better attention span, both of which can settle us into a more appreciative mindset.

Take a deep breath, wherever you are:

When things begin to get overwhelming, whether you’re home, traveling or shopping, take a moment to gather yourself. 

  • Pause (you can leave your eyes open or closed)
  • Deeply inhale
  • Deeply exhale
  • Repeat two more times

  • Allow yourself to remember where you are, and why you are there. Remembering that you made the choice to be wherever you are gives you back your power when you begin to feel overwhelmed. When you are brought back to the moment you’re in, it’s much easier to consciously look around and appreciate where you are and those with you.

    Write down what you’re grateful for

    Writing down what we’re grateful for has been recommended by medical and spiritual professionals for years. It’s tried-and-true for a reason. Taking the time to write down at least one thing you’re grateful for every day has positive effects

    Whether you write one page, one paragraph, or one sentence, writing has the power to transform a thought into a physical being. This form of gratitude practice enables you to both reflect and live in the moment.

    There are no rules to practicing gratitude, however, creating a routine to incorporate your gratitude journaling makes it more likely you will actually do it. Making this a habit in either the morning or night is a wonderful way to begin or end the day.

    Gratitude journaling has become more popular in recent years. With journals, apps, and prompts all readily available. You can use these tools, or you can find and create your own gratitude prompts as well. 

    Cosmic Body suggested gratitude prompts:

    • What’s the best thing that happened to you today?
    • What’s one thing you’re looking forward to this week?
    • Who’s one person you’re grateful to have in your life?
    • What’s one one thing that was a powerful learning lesson this year?
    • What was one thing you hated in the moment, but grew because of?
    • What were three of your triumphs this year?

    Share what you’re grateful about with others

    All of the aforementioned ideas are wonderful both in theory and in practice. However, the power of gratitude extends beyond yourself. Sharing your gratitude with others magnifies its power.

    The holidays are the perfect time to express your gratitude with others. However, sharing why you’re thankful for others shouldn’t be seasonal, it’s best practiced year-round!

    For those not inclined towards sentiments, sharing gratitude doesn’t need to be sappy to be genuine. Telling someone you appreciate them takes less than five seconds, however, it can make someone’s entire day. Don’t be afraid to share with others your genuine gratitude for the role they play in your life. 

    If you don’t feel like you’re quite ready to tell someone you appreciate them (this can be surprisingly awkward initially), share something with them that you in general appreciate. Or, prompt them to share what they’re thankful for. Initiating a conversation surrounding gratitude opens the doors for a deeper conversation.