This year’s holiday celebrations may look a lot different than other years. Considering COVID and all the challenges surrounding it, many families have chosen not to celebrate and gather in large groups. In light of this holiday’s restrictions, it may feel more difficult to experience and celebrate the full joy of the season.

Many people may be feeling stressed during this unusual time, which is why it’s more important than ever to focus on gratitude—the practice of noticing and being thankful for what is valuable and meaningful to you. To help us remember the true spirit of the season, below are a few simple ideas and techniques from the American Heart Association (AHA) to support your efforts to practice gratitude.

The AHA suggests practicing gratitude by using the easy to remember acronym HEART:

  • Health: Think of what your body allowed you to do today. Maybe your feet enabled you to walk around the house or your arms allowed you to hold a pet you love.
  • Eat: What nourishment did you provide your body today? What was your favorite meal?
  • Activity: Did you do something today that you really enjoyed? Take a moment to reflect on and savor it.
  • Relationship: Did you see or talk to someone today who brings you joy? Or are you planning to see someone on a video chat who fits that description? (Remember: The person in the mirror counts.)
  • Time: There’s no time like the present. Allow yourself to be grateful for the fact that you’re here.

Although it’s nice to be grateful and count our blessings during the holiday season, being thankful throughout the year also can have tremendous benefits on our health and quality of life. Gratitude has been proven to increase mental resiliency, benefit physical health, improve sleep quality, enhance self-esteem and reduce tension. All great reasons to give it a try!

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