For most of us, Thanksgiving and the holiday season that follows represents an opportunity to count our blessings and have an attitude of gratitude. But for people who experience symptoms of depression, having an attitude of gratitude can be a challenge.
One of my patients once told me that while he knew he should be grateful for his job, having a nice home and having family close by, there were times that he just didn’t feel it.
He went on to say that the hardest thing about the holiday season was the guilt he had knowing that he should count his blessings but because he could not, he felt like he was a terrible person. In essence, he was taking a very judgmental stance towards himself.
He was judging himself for having symptoms of depression.
So how do you get through the holiday season when you are not feeling very thankful? You practice mindfulness.
- Instead beating yourself up for a lack of gratitude, put your attention on what is happening in the moment.
- Use your senses to just notice what you see and hear in the moment.
- When you catch yourself worrying about the future and overthinking the past, bring your attention back to the moment.
By doing this, you take your attention off the judgmental thinking and put it on the only thing you really have to think about – just this moment!
Kym Hansen-Duell, LMSW, ACSW is a licensed social worker at the Pine Rest Traverse City Clinic. Kym has a Bachelor of Science in Psychology from Central Michigan University and a Master of Social Work from Grand Valley State University. She is a member of the National Association of Social Workers and the Academy of Certified Social Workers. Kym is available to speak at community events on topics such as ADHD, depression, parenting, family issues and workplace stress.