You’re running around, spending way too much money on people who don’t show much gratitude. Busting your butt to stay on top of all the cooking and cleaning. Stressing out because of family and work obligations. If you’re like me, that’s probably an everyday thing for you. And now that it’s officially the holiday season, that’s likely to be a hundred times worse.

Image: Little boy happy, gratitude practice to reduce stressRegardless of what you celebrate, you probably have these same problems pop up. You feel overwhelmed, overstretched, and exhausted. You might enjoy the holidays, but by the end, you just want it to be over. During the holiday season, it’s easy to become swept up in the presents, travel, and money. It’s also easy to get swept up in the stress. 

Is your fight or flight system kicking in even as you read this? Has your anxiety kicked up a notch? If so, relax. I’ve got a science-backed method for fighting off that stress and focusing on what really matters. It’ll help you be more positive, experience more of what you enjoy, and it can even have physical health benefits! Here’s the trick:

To help avoid those pitfalls and to focus on what matters, consider a gratitude practice.

A gratitude practice can include any kind of practice that works for you, including writing in a gratitude journal, making a collage, or texting some friends. Mentioning just a few things you’re grateful for can change your outlook. If you keep this practice up every day, you can make some incredible changes. You’ll see more of what you like, and you’ll feel better overall. Plus, you’ll focus on what actually matters.

In fact, there have been numerous studies that show how much gratitude can affect you. Dr. Robert Emmons, a psychology professor at the University of California and the leading expert on gratitude, conducted a study which found that a daily gratitude practice made participants 25% happier and led to fewer health complaintsAnother study by researchers at the University of Limerick found that a social daily gratitude practice reduced feelings of depression and increased overall emotional balance.

Image: Wooden heart on leafy ground, holiday season

So a daily gratitude practice has some proven benefits to happiness and even physical health. But how do you actually start? I’ve had a daily gratitude practice for several years, and I can definitely see those same benefits: I feel happier, more loved, and less stressed. Here’s how I keep a successful gratitude practice. For me, someone to keep me accountable is so necessary (which is why that second study focused on how social gratitude practices are useful)! So I text three friends each day, telling them three things I’m grateful for. They keep me on track and help celebrate those wins.

Still not sure what to say? No problem. I’ll share an example.

Here’s what I’m grateful for today:

  1. Gas prices have gone down a little after steadily rising for the past few weeks.
  2. I will have a long weekend this week so I can destress and relax.
  3. I am able to spend this holiday with my family, especially my sons.

See? It’s simpler than it sounds. Gratitude can come in big or small packages, and there’s always something you can be grateful for. Now it’s your turn.Start your gratitude practice today and see the results! A super easy way to start is with my Declaring Gratitude Facebook Group, in which I help match up accountability partners and post daily prompts. You could also try one of the earlier suggestions or make up your own.

Remember, focusing on gratitude actually helps you be happier and healthier. So with this hectic holiday season starting, let’s give thanks. Start your daily gratitude practice today. To make things easy, I’ve even created a gratitude template for you so you barely even have to think. What are you grateful for?


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