By Georgianna Reilly, LMSW
SJS Staff Writer
Tomorrow marks the ‘official start’ of the holiday season in the United States with the celebration of Thanksgiving, despite the decorations having been on sale in stores since before Halloween. Tomorrow we will likely gather with friends and family to start off the month and a half long process of gatherings, food, memory sharing, appreciations, thanks, gift giving and of course stress. How could you not stress? It’s a difficult time full of balancing schedules and check books and can become incredibly overwhelming. BUT, there is one thing that research is proving could be the antidote to your holiday stress (or stress in general):
While it’s something associated with ‘giving thanks’ and Thanksgiving its deeper benefits and meaning are often overlooked for the holidays. This article by Psychology Today suggests that stress stems from our Negativity Bias, our focus on the negative which used to be a good survival tactic, and Habituation, or the process of getting used to something which is always there. The simple solution to this stress is focusing on a personal cultivation of gratitude.
“Recall a moment when you were feeling grateful. You may have received help from someone, been overwhelmed by the love in your life, or simply been touched by the beauty and warmth of a beautiful summer’s day. When we feel grateful, the Negativity Bias automatically releases its hold. Rather than focusing on all the things that are going wrong in our lives, we remember the many blessings that surround us. Similarly, gratitude counters Habituation: when we feel grateful for someone (e.g. our mother or spouse for the care they have provided), we experience renewed love and joy at their presence in our lives. Research has even shown that gratitude is linked to decreased envy and materialism which makes sense: once we begin to appreciate what we have in our lives, we are less insecure about what we don’t have and may have less need to grasp for more.”
There are so many benefits of gratitude suggested in developing research, and discussed in this article. So, this Thanksgiving, try to take the time to get into the habit of gratitude. Count your blessings, say thank you, and share the need to do so. Maybe it will make the world a better, and less stressful, place.
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