How to have and show gratitude during hard times

COVID-19 stress plus the holiday season stress has many people on edge. Many of us are separated from our families due to social distancing or due to reasons caused by our involvement in a domestic violence situation. However, during these times,  it is imperative to remember to have gratitude for the things you do have and the things that are going well in your life.

If you’re wondering, what is gratitude? Simply put, gratitude is the art of being thankful even when it seems as though you don’t have much to be grateful for. Gratitude helps you cope with stress and aids in changed behavior. When you have an attitude of gratitude every day, not only will you notice the differences, so will the people around you.

Having gratitude is not always the easiest thing to do. We have to work on it continually! Here are steps to help get you through these stressful times and remember the things you are grateful for so that you can have a great holiday season and get yourself closer to reuniting with your family:

First – When you feel yourself getting frustrated, stressed out, or have any anxiety – stop and take several deep breaths. Breathe in through your nose for four seconds and out through your mouth for four seconds. Do this ten times. This will bring oxygen back to your brain, calm your heart rate, and clear your mind. This is also a good time to have gratitude for the ability to breathe, which we can take for granted. Repeating positive affirmations such as “I choose to be thankful no matter my circumstances” and “I am so grateful to be alive” will also help you calm down in moments of high stress.

Second – create a list of ten things or people that you are grateful for and why. Be as detailed as possible. Get creative! Think big and small.

Third – pick a person from your list and tell them that you are grateful for them and why. This positive energy exchange will not only make that person feel so appreciated, but you will also feel good for having told them. Why stop at just one person? Choose a different person every day to shower with love and appreciation. There’s no need to wait until that person’s birthday because tomorrow isn’t promised. Show people that you are grateful for them while they are here.

If you are still feeling stressed – find someone you are close to, and talk it out with them. Make sure it’s someone who you know will listen to you, free of judgment.  Or, you can always sit down and write out your feelings to get them out of your head. Then, if you would like, you can rip up the paper and throw it away or burn it in a safe contained area. This exercise will help you visualize getting rid of the stress, negative emotions, and unwanted thoughts. It is allowing you to move on to thoughts of gratitude.

Do something good for someone else! It doesn’t matter how big or small that act may be. You can do something as simple as smile and wave at a stranger or hold their door open for them. Did you know you can trick your brain into thinking you are happy just by smiling? The same goes for gratitude. You can feel less stressed and more thankful when you give gratitude.

Lastly, but certainly not least, go out and do something FUN!!! Take your kids to the park, go on a walk with a friend, or go exercise. Being outside, getting some fresh air, looking at the sky, and having gratitude will help boost serotonin levels in your brain and lead to an increased mood of a positive sense of well-being.

At Family Builders, we are grateful for all clients who pass through our doors that want to change their behavior for the better. We offer lessons in our Batterer’s Intervention Program that help people say goodbye to destructive behaviors and learn new actions that help reduce anxiety, anger, and the cycle of abuse. If you would like more information on Family Builders or our programs, please give us a call at (405) 232-8226.

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