The end of a semester can be stressful: finding time to complete assignments, rushing to finalize plans for travel, and preparing for a shift in schedule during winter break can all take its toll on our ability to manage our day-to-day activities. Finding ways to regain balance without ignoring one aspect of our well-being over the other is sometimes difficult. Appropriately enough this Thanksgiving season, one practice that I have found particularly beneficial is practicing gratitude.
This practice allows you to celebrate the small victories – like getting the best spot in the student parking lot, enjoying the sunshine as you walk to class each day, or the person in front of you being kind enough to hold the door. By noting this things, we get a better opportunity to see the positive wins in our day. This doesn’t mean that we should push out or ignore anything negative – those are all valid, too; however, it might make all the difference in turning a stressed-out day into something more manageable.
The best part of this practice is that it isn’t one-size-fits-all. You can be as active or passive with the practice as you want and fit it into activities that you’re already doing. For example, if you keep a diary or a journal, add a small space in each entry for one daily piece of gratitude. Or, if you spend time in meditation, take a moment to think of one or two small victories you experienced that day. There’s also research suggesting that sharing gratitude with friends or family can strengthen relationships. Next time someone does something you appreciate, let them know – it could be great for both you and them!
In this season, I know it’s sometimes hard to see past all of the events, work, activities, and stressors that we encounter. I challenge you to find your small victories and celebrate them – there are likely more than you think.