December is here! For many, this is a busy month filled with holiday celebrations, family commitments, wrapping up projects at home and work, and new year preparation.

It’s easy to let your healthy habits—like getting exercise and adequate sleep, managing stress and achieving general wellness—fall by the wayside. During this hectic and often anxiety-inducing time, one important item commonly overlooked is the benefit of giving (and receiving) gratitude during the holidays. 

Being thankful isn’t just for Thanksgiving

Research shows notable differences between those who express gratitude and those who experience stress-related symptoms like headaches and sleeplessness. The distinction can be likened to the contrast between the parasympathetic nervous system (responsible for our “rest and digest” functions) and the sympathetic nervous system (associated with the fight or flight response), respectively. 

Additionally, studies show that being grateful significantly improves your:

  • Mental health
  • Physical health
  • Overall wellness 
  • Interpersonal connections
  • Resilience to adversity

Practicing gratitude changes how we view our surroundings and circumstances, often by fostering positivity. After making it into a habit, it becomes easier to look for and recognize the good in your life. 

Being grateful also balances our lives and grounds us during times of stress and uncertainty. Here are four ideas on how you can make gratitude a habit. 

4 ways to practice gratitude

Gratitude jar

Make gratitude an everyday part of your family life by keeping a gratitude jar for the whole family. Each person writes what they’re thankful for on a piece of paper and puts it in the jar. When it’s full, remove each piece of paper and read them together as a family. 

Gratitude journal

Consider keeping a gratitude journal that’s yours and yours alone, writing down five things you’re grateful for each night. Whenever you’re feeling down, overwhelmed or stressed, refer back to it to brighten your mood.

Post-it positivity

Write brief, positive notes of affirmation and thanks to your partner or spouse on Post-it notes and leave them in different places to find on a daily basis. Not only will it make you feel better, but it will also make their day.

Gifts of gratitude

Thoughtful tokens of appreciation don’t have to be reserved for birthdays, holidays and anniversaries or the times they’re most suspected. Give random, little gifts of gratitude to just say thank you to the people most important in your life.

Labcorp can help

Labcorp’s health coaching can guide your employees to programs that fit their needs and tailor steps to manage their stress. Our team of healthcare professionals supports participants in making positive, sustainable lifestyle changes to help them lead their best lives both inside and outside of the office. 

If the holidays are stressful for you, also consider working with a health coach who is certified in mental health first aid.

Contact us Stay in the loop Explore resources