Gratitude Guilt


The Thanksgiving and December holidays are supposed to be the season of gratitude. Which is lovely, unless it makes you feel stressed and guilty. For many of us, the next couple of months are incredibly challenging and gratitude seems like the furthest thing from our minds. And, we know that having a practice of gratitude is beneficial so we feel guilty that we’ve let go of it the other 11 months of the year. 

So, what can you do about it? 

Address the stress. 

Ask yourself, what is it about the holidays that make me stressed? Is it the change in the weather? Is it the extra family time? Is it the amount of socializing? Is it overindulgence? Is it that there’s more to your schedule? Is it that your kids’ behavior tends to decline?

If you can get clarity on what it is about this season that makes you stressed, miserable, or not feel grateful, then you can start making different decisions. And small changes can have a massive impact! For example, how can you get a little more time outside, even if it is getting darker earlier, or take advantage of those absolutely gorgeous days? This doesn’t need to be a full-day hike, but perhaps a walk around the neighborhood or having your cup of coffee outside. 

If the extra socializing or change to your schedule is stressful, then what can you say no to? And, if you don’t feel you can say no, spend some time reflecting on those feelings. Perhaps, the consequence of saying no is not as drastic as you think. Or maybe there’s a different way to approach the event. 

For our kids, this time of year is incredibly exciting. There are projects at school, school performances, treats, family, presents and so much more. Their excitement and anticipation keep them in a revved-up state which impacts their behavior. So, have some grace and patience with them knowing that they’re feeling out of sorts, just like you, and have very little control over their environment. Encourage them to share how they are feeling. You can also help them prioritize their schedule as much as possible to ensure that they get consistent sleep and healthy food that their body is familiar with. And, you may help them understand what they can say ‘no’ to as well in order to not be overwhelmed.

What else can you do to ditch the gratitude guilt?

Create an easy gratitude practice. 

Being in a state of gratitude has many positive benefits. It can boost serotonin levels and activate the part of the brain that produces dopamine. Like many practices, we can make it too complicated to maintain day after day. One trick is to connect the practice with other actions in your day so you can make it easy to accomplish and give you a boost all day long.

One thing we all do each day is eat. So, when you sit down for a meal, think of three things you are grateful for. The more specific you can be, the better. And, if you have a family meal, have each person share what they are grateful for. This way, you get the collective benefit of not only sharing your gratitude but also hearing about what your family is grateful for. If you want to write them down at the end of the day, you certainly can.

Some families have also created a gratitude jar. Each day, before bed, family members write down something they are grateful for on a slip of paper and put it in the jar. Then once a week when the family is together, you pull out all the slips of paper and read them out loud. You can glue them into a blank notebook and have your family’s gratitude journal. Kids love helping with this part!

All of this seems overwhelming

Sometimes awareness is enough

Merely acknowledging how you are feeling and allowing the space for those emotions to flow through you can often be enough to change how you feel about the holidays. So, if you and your kids are feeling out of sorts, give yourself a break and take a breath. We’d love to hear what helps you thrive during the holiday season. Share in the comments.


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