“Extraordinarily difficult” may be the best way to describe 2020 for most Americans. We all had to face a pandemic that impacted our communities, our lives, and our world like never before. Along with this came a record-breaking hurricane season, an election season, and extreme job loss, and it has all left many Americans grappling with how to keep their spirits up. Although the holiday season looks a bit different this year, it can be seen as a time for us to have a sense of normalcy and brighten up our spirits.
It’s important to note that gratitude means a lot more than just being “thankful” – it does much more for an individual’s well-being. While it’s not a cure-all for feelings of depression or anxiety that may arise, studies have shown that the acknowledgment and expression of gratitude can improve sleep quality and can even increase feelings of happiness, positive mood, and hope for the future. Gratitude can also reduce feelings of stress and burnout, common feelings during this pandemic.
To help spark gratitude across the country, Sachs Media partnered with America’s Newspapers to help millions of Americans express their thankfulness in a national campaign called ShareGratitude2020.
Not only does practicing gratitude improve a multitude of mental health aspects, but it also improves physical health. According to a 2012 study published in “Personality and Individual Differences,” grateful people feel healthier overall and are more likely to take care of their health with frequent exercise and doctor visits. Being grateful and sharing gratitude with others pays off in more ways than one.
So here are some ways you can help share gratitude and pay it forward this holiday season:
- Donate or volunteer – Especially during such a difficult year, we could all use a little kindness, both to ourselves and others. Not only does it feel good to help those in need, but it’s also good for your mental health.
- Be there for someone – Sometimes you don’t need to do anything special to express gratitude. Simply offering a listening ear can mean the world to a loved one or friend who is going through a difficult time and just needs some support.
- Give a thoughtful gift – A gift doesn’t have to be expensive to show that you care for and appreciate someone. Just a small token of appreciation is a great way to tell them you’re thinking about them.
- Pay for a stranger’s coffee or meal – It’s a simple way to make someone’s day and hopefully start a chain of gratitude being shared.
- Write a list of reasons you are grateful – At times, we might think we don’t have much going for us, but once you start actually writing down what you have to be grateful for in life, the list really starts to build! There are so many things we can take for granted when we don’t focus on them, like having warm clothes and a safe place to call home.
- Play with a shelter pet – Animals need positivity in their lives too, and there’s nothing like making an animal’s day to put a smile on your face.
- Do someone a favor – A small action goes a long way! Take out the garbage for a neighbor, take care of the dishes after Christmas dinner, or offer to help them out with a project.
- Give a compliment – Everyone appreciates a compliment, so give them freely!
- Create a blessing bag – Fill up a Ziploc bag with essential items such as toothpaste, snacks, socks, lotion, and band-aids to help someone in need.
- Donate goods to charity – Got a lot of old clothes and items that don’t ‘spark joy’? Donate them! It may be a treasure to someone else.
- Call a friend – Although life feels extra stressful these days, it’s still incredibly important to show others you’re there for them and spread positivity.
- Treat yourself – It’s also important to show yourself gratitude and be kind to yourself during such a difficult time. You’re in a better place to share more gratitude if you feel more positively about yourself! So don’t be afraid to spoil yourself every once in a while with a movie night and your favorite snacks, or even a nice relaxing bath.
You can also visit ShareGratitude2020.com and watch and share inspiring gratitude submissions from others. Together, we can all spread kindness and gratitude worldwide and inspire one another to be especially grateful this holiday season.