Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday. Yet as the day approaches, I feel a kind of lethargy in my soul. Many of us are suffering from COVID fatigue. Some of us have lost loved ones or friends, and for that, I am truly sorry. We have a vaccine but a lot of people remain unvaccinated. We are at a tipping point as climate change worsens and racial unrest continues. We aren’t sure how to feel or know when, if ever, things will be back to normal. All this uncertainty is exhausting. It feels like we are at a spiritual impasse. How do we keep our hearts open with all that’s going on?

Many of us are distressed by the level of anger and hatred that exists in our society. I felt so discouraged by the recent verdict in the Kyle Rittenhouse case, and I know I’m not alone. It feels like a huge setback for all of us. I really have to wonder how we got here and where we are headed. With all the negativity going on, an important question to ask is how do we take care of ourselves?

When we are feeling low, we can improve our mood by practicing gratitude. Why? Because gratitude works. As Kaira Jewel Lingo writes in her book, We Were Made for These Times: 10 Lessons for Moving through Change, Loss, and Disruption, “Gratitude is a very powerful way to nurture the good. It calms our frantic minds and supports us to stay attentive to the possibilities that are still there.”  This means when things don’t go our way or we are feeling out of sorts, expressing gratitude can help us return to a positive frame of mind.

Here’s my advice for navigating holiday and post-pandemic stress.

  1. Keep it simple

Try not to get caught up in the holiday madness of shopping and buying presents. Have a few friends over for a drink. Spend time with the people you are closest to and love.

  1. Practice Gratitude

Take pleasure in small things, a walk, a flower, a child’s smile. There is so much to be grateful for and we miss out if we are not acknowledging the beauty that surrounds us.

  1. Practice Generosity

Generate simple acts of kindness with the people in your life.

  1. Be Present

Come back to the here and now. The past is gone and the future hasn’t happened. Take time to relax and fully experience where you are.

When we find ourselves in difficulty, it helps to connect with others. Feel your gratitude for those whose friendship, love, and support have helped you get through difficult times. Reach out with kind regard for those who are suffering to let them know they are not alone. We can spread a message of gratitude, hope, and healing this Thanksgiving with our simple acts of kindness and caring. Together, we can make a difference.