Feel like you’re bracing for impact anytime something major is about to happen this year? You’re not alone. 2020 has thrown us all for a loop, taken all of us on a wild ride, given us way more than we can handle. (I could go on with trite sayings that all sound like they were made just for 2020, but I won’t. You’re welcome!)
For many, it’s easy to succumb to negative feelings when faced with struggle. It’s easy to say, Why me? Why this? Why now? Or, just why?! Asking questions about what’s already happened won’t change your circumstances. We are where we are right now, and as tough as it is, we have to accept that 2020 has happened to us.
Once we can accept our circumstances for what they are and let go of judgment about them, we can learn to find gratitude in what we presently have. Acceptance can be tough when it feels like your circumstances won’t change, so we’ve outlined a few things that can help you shift your mindset from attitude to gratitude.
1. Get Moving
Regular physical activity has been shown to alter your brain for both short-term and long-term effects chemically. Exercise boosts the creation of multiple feel-good hormones like dopamine (lifts mood, enhances motivation, and increases attention), serotonin (helps with willpower), and endorphins (released in response to stress and pain to help alleviate anxiety, depression, and pain). Exercise is a positive form of stress (eustress) and stimulates cortisol release, a stress hormone that can have negative benefits if produced in excess. But with regular exercise over time, less cortisol is released in response to stress. Exercise also increases the delivery of blood and oxygen to your brain, which helps the pre-frontal cortex of the brain function better (this is the area of the brain responsible for reasoning and decision-making). You’ll feel physically invigorated and mentally clearer.
2. Get Outside
There’s a reason why romance and comedy movies usually find happy endings in daylight and horror movies occur in darkness — natural sunlight boosts the production of serotonin, provides Vitamin D, and aids in the production of other hormones that can lift your mood. And notice how we said “natural” — fluorescent lights found inside most buildings could trigger nervous system responses like panic attacks and increase anxiety symptoms after repeated exposure. Stepping outside to get some fresh air during the day can do wonders for you, especially during this time of year as the leaves’ colors change – it’s hard not to be grateful when observing nature in all its glory!
3. Get Some “Me Time”
If we’ve all learned something in 2020, it’s that yes – you can have time just for you! Just because things are feeling more normal doesn’t mean that you should stop attending to your needs. Find time for yourself to binge that Netflix show, finish that thrilling book on your nightstand, or get your haircut. You are responsible for your health and happiness, and if you take care of yourself first, you’ll be able to find gratitude in all that’s available for you to enjoy in this life.
4. Get A Pen & Paper (Or Your Phone)
Having a tough time thinking about what you’re grateful for? Designate an empty notebook, a stack of Post-Its, or a folder in your Notes App on your phone as your Gratitude Journal. And give yourself the freedom to write down anything and everything you are grateful for — there’s no limit! (For me, I’m personally thankful for my laptop’s charger for being right next to me just now as my battery just hit a critical level. Seriously, nothing is too small to leave out of your Gratitude Journal!)
5. Get In Touch With Your Loved Ones
If we learned a second thing in 2020, it’s that there’s no limit to connecting with others during a time when we can’t meet up physically. There’s phone, text, email, social media, Google Duo, Zoom, What’s App, Facetime, and I’m sure MANY more ways to keep in touch. We encourage you to initiate the connection, especially when you don’t need anything from the other person. Take time to reach out and chat about anything (well, anything except 2020. The first rule about 2020 is, You don’t talk about 2020!) When you initiate contact with someone without ulterior motive, the experience is more genuine and can make you appreciate that person for who they are and what you all share, rather than what you may need from them.
We know that times are tough but by regularly practicing these tips you’ll view 2020 from a lens of gratitude rather than attitude!