ANDERSON — This is the time of year where everyone is expected to express their thankfulness and gratitude. For some, however, such expression can be a difficult task.
Struggling to show gratitude can stem from a wide range of factors, often in combination with one another.
“Some folks it could be seasonal, some folks it could be depression or anxiety or other mental health issues that are impacting it and sometimes we’re just down in a typical fashion,” said Vanessa Enos, program manager and licensed mental health counselor with Community Health Network.
To help express gratitude, Enos suggests to shift thinking from a “this-or-that” attitude to an “and” attitude.
“As a society, I think sometimes we forget we can have two feelings at the same time. So, a lot of times I think we think ‘I’m sad so I can’t feel grateful’ but we can pick both,” Enos said. “I can be having a bad day and still be grateful for something in front of me.”
For some, holidays can be a reminder of loss. Remembering lost loved ones can make it difficult to be grateful during the holidays.
“You can still be grateful for things that you’ve lost or people you miss,” Enos said. “If we’re missing someone, we can turn that sadness into, maybe, some gratitude of ‘Boy, I’m lucky I had that person’ and feeling some of that gratitude in that space.”
Feelings of gratitude are important because it helps lift us, even if we don’t share our thoughts with anyone but ourselves, according to Enos. Allowing yourself to acknowledge the things you’re thankful for will help calm your mind.
“It’s even better if we share what we’re grateful for with others because we get some great feedback on that,” Enos said. “We get to see other people see that joy and experience that happiness that we can give them and that can be a really nice way to help us feel better, too.”
In addition to helping ourselves when we express gratitude, it can also help those around us.
“I love being told thank you. I love when someone says ‘Hey, I really appreciate that you did this,’” Enos said. “Making sure that we give that to other people is a really important thing … Slowing down to say thank you can be really impactful.”