Thanksgiving is upon us, which brings with it the spirit of the holiday season. Before you get too wrapped up in the stress of the holidays—like all of the shopping, cooking, and family events–let’s take a minute to slow down and really consider how we can use this time to practice a thankfulness while being mindful and present in our everyday lives. Here are a few ways you can up your thankfulness game during Thanksgiving and well into the new year.
1. Give Back.
With all the detailed planning that goes into making your holidays a success, it’s easy to forget all the wonderful reasons behind this season. But there are plenty of simple and stress-free ways you can give back to the community and set a great example for those little eyes learning from you.
- If you have some extra cash, consider donating to a cause that you believe in. If you’re not sure where to start, start locally. Pick a food bank or homeless shelter in your own community as your recipient.
- Plan ahead and keep cash and loose change handy for the bell ringers you’ll no doubt encounter during shopping trips.
- Water bottles and small restaurant gift cards can be easily handed out to the homeless population–you’ll feel good about your contribution, and offering a helping hand and warm smile is guaranteed to be less awkward than averting your eyes and driving past.
- If you’ve got more time than extra money, give back an hour or two each week in an animal shelter, a nursing home, or meals on wheels program. If you’re ready to give but not sure where, use VolunteerMatch.org to find the perfect organization for you.
2. Start New Traditions.
This Thanksgiving dinner, instead of rushing through the main course to get to bigger and better things (It’s totally okay to DVR your favorite football game.), take a moment to go around the table to share what you’re thankful for. It could even start a daily tradition because it doesn’t have to be Thanksgiving for you to be thankful! Prepare for next year by starting a thankfulness jar. Write down things you’re thankful for on small slips of paper throughout the year, and by next Thanksgiving you’ll have a jar brimming with reasons that are sure to make you smile. Plus, if you pick a cute jar and colorful paper, it makes a great centerpiece or decoration.
3. Think Ahead.
Instead of waiting until the stroke of midnight on New Year’s Eve to decide what you need to change about your life, what better time to start than Thanksgiving? Work towards small (or larger) goals a little bit every week starting now. You’ll not only give yourself a head start for the new year, but you’ll have progress to be proud of on January 1st, instead of that insurmountable feeling of starting 2017 with huge goals. A goal journal like this one can help track your progress and motivate you along the way.
4. Be Kind to Yourself.
The first step towards being thankful and being able to give back is taking care of yourself first. Enroll in that yoga class you’ve been thinking about, or give yourself the gift of a good night’s rest by going to bed early. Splurge on spa day with friends, or simply give yourself time each day to enjoy a cup of coffee in peace. Whatever it is that rejuvenates you, make sure you’re making it a priority.
5. Surround Yourself with Loved Ones.
Of course, one of the main goals of the holidays is to spend time with friends and family. The Huffington Post explains that this is actually one of the staple habits of grateful people:
“Thankful people know they didn’t get to where they are by themselves — and they make it a habit to spend time with those people who matter most.”
So, don’t just “get through” the holidays, savor them! Spend time with all the delightful people in your life, and make sure they know how important they are to you. You, and your loved ones, will all benefit from it.