Can you believe it’s already Thanksgiving? It seems like yesterday that the trees were green, the flowers abundant, and the sunshine was HOT. Well, the air is decidedly cooler, the colors a little duller, and the only flowers right now are on my indoor cactus. But hey, we get to eat, right? Isn’t that what Thanksgiving is all about? FOOD? Food can feed the physical aspect of ourselves, but what about our minds, emotions and spiritual self? We need to feed all parts of ourselves to be whole. How might you feed those other components of self?
Mind: Instead of vegging out in front of the TV, do something that feeds your brain. Read a book, meditate, sit quietly–find something that puts your mind at ease. Especially if you have a hectic day of travel, hosting or family interactions, this will set you up for a successful day. And don’t get me wrong – I will be watching my fair share of football, but plan to spend the morning feeding my brain.
Emotions: This can be a tough one, especially if you are spending time with family or friends that may trigger you (politics, anyone?). It is important to recognize the physical symptoms of your emotions. Does your face get hot? Do you start to sweat? Does your heart race? When Uncle George starts up about what a great president Donald Trump is, or your Aunt Matilda asks if you have a girlfriend yet, inevitably the physical symptoms will erupt. Breathe. Count to 3 before responding. Then say you have to go check on the sweet potatoes. Body awareness can help you mange a tricky emotional situation with poise and dignity.
Spiritually: While it is kind of obvious, giving gratitude feeds your spirit. Being thankful for what you have right now can help us see things in a new, positive light. Other ways to feed your spiritual self: take a walk in nature (bonus-you feed your physical self here too!); give someone a call (real live voices here, friends) and tell them how much they mean to you; or spend some time in reflection with the universe, or whatever religion means to you. With all the hubbub of the day, we can disconnect quickly. Have your plan ready to stay connected.
Need some gratitude tips? Check out the ones below from an article called Don’t Be Grateful on Thanksgiving. Don’t be fooled by the title!
- Subtract one good thing. If you are interested in boosting gratitude, start by taking something away. Researchers refer to this as mental subtraction and is a way to boost appreciation for what matters most in your life. Imagine your life without your favorite relative, without having a place to go to celebrate the holiday, or without the ability to feed yourself. Reflect on your life without that person or experience for a moment. How would that feel?
- Focus on a “little thing” and savor it completely. Researchers have found that the science of savoring is an important well-being and gratitude booster. For example, bring your attention to the smile of a family member or to one bite of turkey or stuffing. Notice the details, absorb yourself in the feel-good sensations. Savoring is about elongating the positive experience.
- Name 3 blessings each night. At the end of each day this week – and NOT only on Thanksgiving Day – reflect on your day and name 3 things that happened during the day that you are grateful for. Researchers have consistently found this boosts happiness and decreases depression in the long-term.
- Say what you mean. If you’re like me you’ll probably say “happy thanksgiving” 50 times this coming weekend. How many of those times will you be “present” to versus merely saying words in an automatic, mindless way? How many will you be saying with meaning and heart? This is the practice of mindful speech. Focus on the words as you say them. Think about the meaning of what you are saying – are you offering the other person a wish to be happy…an intention for them to be grateful and complete?
- Express appreciation for others’ strengths. The science of appreciation – especially appreciation of the strengths of those close to you – is becoming a hot topic that comes with many benefits for yourself and your relationship…
The more tools in your toolbox, the better your probability of thriving during the holidays. Happy Thanksgiving, and don’t forget to feed your mind, emotions and spirit this holiday in addition to your belly!