During the holidays it is difficult not to feel a sense of thankfulness, love, joy and peace especially with all that comes with the season.  From the beautiful decorations we religiously hang each year to the mouthwatering smell of whatever is baking in the oven; this time of year brings out the best in each of us.  Studies show, on average,  people are happiest this time of year, than any other regardless of wintery conditions and all the additional stress and pressure the holidays bring.  This is because we are excited to emerge ourselves in age-old traditions – filling our tummies with special meals, splurging on extravagant gifts and spending time with our loved ones who may have traveled from far to make the season special. BUT above all, it’s that contagious overwhelmingly indescribable sense of being thankful that fills us to the rim. Obviously the holiday season isn’t as magical for everyone for a myriad of reasons including these tough economic times with the modern day Scrooge being inflation.  Research shows that 59% of Americans are stressed about costs associated with the holidays due to the sky high prices of goods and services.  If that isn’t enough there are those who don’t have the love and support of their friends and families, those suffering from anxiety and depression, those who are struggling with addiction or doing everything in their power to remain in recovery.  For those, being joyous and grateful is challenging despite all the beauty and magic of the season. Here at the Dismas Home of New Hampshire we urge each of our residents to search their hearts, to speak to a staff member about how they are feeling during this time of year and not to overextend themselves chasing that magical feeling but rather to practice gratitude and that feeling will come.

What’s gratitude got to do with it?

Over the past few years, especially after the COVID-19 pandemic, the outlook on life is all about being grateful.  But what exactly does that mean?  It can’t just be a great marketing ploy for people to buy t-shirts and coffee mugs just to snap pics and post on social media with the hashtag grateful right?  By definition the word gratitude means “the quality of being thankful, readiness to show appreciation for and to return kindness.”  Research shows that being thankful makes us happier and more productive and those who kept gratitude journals on a weekly basis exercised more regularly, reported fewer physical symptoms, felt better about their lives as a whole, and were more optimistic about the future.  While being grateful is a fundamental part of the holiday season, it is an imperative part of recovery.  This is because by focusing on what you have, rather than what you don’t, you can create healthier thought patterns which in turn can help you achieve greater satisfaction with your life.  I know what you are thinking, easier said than done and to be honest that is 100% true! You don’t just wake up one day being grateful but it can easily become routine by being mindful and paying attention to the positive things in your daily life, small or large and using tools like journals, meditation or gratitude lists can help.

Practicing Gratitude

Being grateful reminds us that even when things go wrong there is still something to be thankful for.  Practicing gratitude teaches us how to love and respect ourselves, which enables us to love and respect others as well.  At the Dismas Home of New Hampshire we believe that journaling is a great tool for discovery and self-healing.  Having a section just for gratitude can help with recovery as it gives you a space to record what you are grateful for daily.  Don’t know where to start here are 5 things many people in recovery are grateful for;

  1. A second chance – You woke up and you are sober
  2. Freedom – From drugs or alcohol, things you were once enslaved by
  3. Getting help – You have a support system 
  4. New opportunities – To learn, to grow, to change
  5. Mending Relationships – Repair broken relationships starting with the one you have with yourself

Seeing life through the lens of gratitude can be rewarding for each and every one of us.  It helps us to be thankful for even the smallest ray of light, know that every hardship is only temporary and that by practicing gratitude we can overcome anything.  This holiday season, we at the Dismas Home of New Hampshire ask that as you open your heart to give, please keep our residents in mind.  These remarkable women need your help, they have done the hard part, a little kindness can make an incredible impact on the rest of their lives…their second chance. 

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