Looking for good news in 2020 can feel like shoving your hand deep into the unknown of the couch cushions, praying to feel a nickel brush against your fingertips.
You know it’s bad when the chief medical officer of the National Alliance on Mental Illness, Dr. Ken Duckworth, looks at a CDC study on COVID-19’s impact on mental health and remarks, “The adults are not alright in America.”
It’s heavy to read about those sorts of findings so frequently.
Despite the craziness of this draining year, we cannot deny that we have encountered some good news in the midst of it all. Whether celebrating business milestones, gaining adaptability skills, spending more time with family, reconnecting with friends, returning to old hobbies, or finding something new to enjoy, there were speckles of sunshine in this stormy year.
Here’s how you can use gratitude to strengthen your overall wellness:
Find the good news
Looking for good news in the midst of bad does not mean you must always look on the bright side during challenging situations. That practice can become inauthentic and draining over time.
After all, there is so much strain in the country that the American Psychological Association has released three volumes of Stress in America 2020 to take a pulse on COVID-19’s impact on American adults’ mental health. Similar to the CDC, their studies have found alarming levels of stress.
Gratitude is not some magical force that can make all the stressors go away. But it may be just what you need to find peace as you endure them.
It’s also healthy for you! In a mental health letter, Harvard Health discussed studies that demonstrate a correlation between gratitude and increased optimism, happiness, satisfaction in relationships, and motivation at work. And they also include a list of small gratitude exercises to include in your routine, such as keeping a gratitude journal, praying, meditating, or mentally extending thanks to someone.
It is easy to be bitter this Thanksgiving that the world is still a mess. But don’t cheat yourself by neglecting the good news — big and small — that came your way this year. You are allowed to find joy, even when it feels like everything is falling apart.
Practice gratitude for big and small moments
Memories can fall into two categories: the stuff one would find in a textbook about your life and those one would find in a scrapbook of a similar nature.
In the textbooks, we put the monumental events of the year. That’s where we keep track of new jobs, new love, monumental milestones, proud accomplishments, and the significant occurrences going on around us. The pandemic, social distancing protocols, and change to remote work/learning all fall into this category.
But there’s more to living than just these main events. Life is also made up of small moments, good and bad. They don’t last long, and we don’t often think of them when we look back and reflect on the year, but the moments are what give life meaning. The new things you got up to while keeping yourself entertained in self-isolation are what go into the scrapbook.
Remembering and honoring both is necessary for your self-care. It should never just be “Good news! I bought a car!” This Thanksgiving (and beyond!), be sure to include the small wins in your thankfulness. The “Good news! I found this really awesome air freshener for the car today! It’s shaped like a campfire, isn’t that so cool!” kind of moments are just as important.
Our big events:
- Bought a house! – Marikaye
- Welcomed a new baby to the family! – Crystal
- Got married! – Rachel
- Started an internship at RSM 😉 – Sanya Grace
- Turned my freelance content marketing side-hustle into full-time work! – Jule
- Sold our house and moved into our dream home! 🙂 – Abby
- Stepped up to lead my work team of eight through the many hurdles of 2020. – Brittany
- Started a grand new career adventure! – Kayla
Our small moments:
- My father’s herb garden flourished this year, and we got to enjoy using the rosemary, oregano, and thyme in many of our homemade meals. – Sanya Grace
- Being stuck inside led to weekly Zoom calls with my immediate family who live on opposite coasts, so while we’re sad we haven’t been able to visit each other in person, I’ve seen them more than ever! – Jule
- I made gluten-free gnocchi for the first time! For not really knowing what I was doing, I ended up being really happy with the taste and texture. – Rachel
- Embraced a healthier lifestyle by pushing myself to achieve 12,000 steps a day. – Brittany
- Our son has grown so much over the past year. He’s learned to walk, play peek-a-boo, and blow kisses. His joy over the small stuff in life reminds us to slow down and enjoy it! – Abby
- I’ve always struggled to find balance between work and time I spent with my family. This year, with everyone home in lock-down, the solution became so clear! I turned my office into a space for homeschool (or the kids to just hangout while I work) as well. Now we spend all day learning, growing, and working together. 🙂 – Crystal
- While tricky in COVID, I maintained some healthier life choices (in a non-begrudging way) from intermittent fasting to working out! I’ve NEVER kept this much focus on the small breaks of self-care away from my endless to-dos! – Marikaye