Thursday, October 31, 2013

Giving Thanks and Self Care this Holiday Season

“Gratitude is the inward feeling of kindness received. Thankfulness is the natural impulse to express that feeling. Thanksgiving is the following of that impulse.” ~ Henry Van Dyke

Each year, Thanksgiving Day reminds us to take a moment to note the things and people in our lives for which we are grateful. While we may feel gratitude for those people or things we already have in our lives, sometimes it is not only difficult to acknowledge and embrace those feelings, but to truly appreciate that for which we are thankful as well.

Gratitude is the base from which appreciation grows. That means we can be grateful for something or someone in our lives without really appreciating it. The subtle shift from gratitude to appreciation involves being more thoughtfully aware and active in reflecting on the reasons we feel grateful about something or someone. Through present moment awareness, we begin to generate feelings of appreciation.

For example, we can be grateful for having a close friendship. However, we can go further and appreciate our friend’s beauty, intelligence, and sense of humor, as well as her thoughtfulness, trustworthiness and helpfulness. In this way, we move beyond thankfulness as we consciously recognize the value and significance that our friend adds to our lives.

The next step – expressing our appreciation or “giving thanks”, in the language of the season – is often the greatest challenge.

All too often we remain silent, not showing the people we love how thankful we are to have them in our lives. This is not necessarily for lack of good intentions. Life just gets in the way or we struggle to find the words. We forget to say a simple “thank you”, or write a heartfelt note of thanks.

Thanksgiving is a time to reflect on these intentions. This is a time to ask oneself, “Am I thanking those who mean the most? Am I giving back a bit of what I have been given?” But even if we lack the ways to express our appreciation, simply bringing to mind our thankfulness and appreciation will make us feel brighter, lighter, happier, more inspired, energized, and loved this holiday season.

For more help feeling good this holiday season, counseling can help. Call or email us today for an appointment at 240-274-5680 or

Take Good Care,
Amy Hooper, LCSW-C, CEAP
Director, Another Look at Healing, LLC - Counseling Center for Women and Families