By Jack Gilbert, LCSW
For many, the holidays are a wonderful time of year, but for people in recovery, the holidays can sometimes be painful and overwhelming, making them vulnerable to relapse. Gratitude is a practice that can be helpful all year round, but particularly during the holiday season. For instance, simple practices like keeping a gratitude journal or gratitude list can be extremely beneficial and helpful for maintaining emotional and spiritual health.
Gratitude is the practice of feeling grateful and appreciative. Gratitude is a valuable recovery tool for helping people maintain balance and peace of mind, and for strengthening their sobriety. The many benefits to practicing gratitude on a daily basis include experiencing more positive emotions, feeling more alive, sleeping better, expressing more compassion and kindness, and even bolstering the immune system.
Here’s what some of the research on practicing gratitude says:
In short, gratitude is a tool any of us can use to make our lives and the lives of those we love and interact with better during the holidays and throughout the year.
Like most skills, cultivating an attitude of gratitude takes effort and practice, but the process is not difficult or even time consuming. Here are some small gratitude practices you can easily implement in everyday life:
In closing, I would like to suggest that it’s important to not only be grateful for the wonderful things in your life but also for the difficult, challenging people and situations. All of us learn, develop and grow the most when we have to face the challenges and painful situations that life inevitably brings us. It’s easy to get lost in the challenge, the pain, the anxiety and other emotions we experience in these moments. What is often missed is that it is these situations — perhaps some of our darkest moments — that have given us the strength to ask for help and set us on the path to recovery.