• Danielle Matthew

Ways to Feel Happy and Grateful At the End of a Hard Year

For many people, 2020 has been a challenging year. So much this year has felt adverse, complicated, and even disappointing. With the fear of the pandemic, the apparent divide in our nation, kids home from school, and the holidays approaching, it can be hard to feel grateful or even happy - especially if you're feeling anxious or depressed.


How to get out of the gloom

Feeling down, particularly around the holidays, can feel terrible, especially if you've tried to get yourself out of the slump but have not been successful. Here are some things that can be good for everyone to practice, especially those who have difficulty finding reasons to smile.


  • Take time to evaluate your current circumstances. It can be beneficial to spend at least 15 minutes a day, reflecting on your circumstances with an honest and open mind. Try journaling any thoughts or realizations that enter your thoughts. While this may sound counterintuitive, it can be extremely empowering. While there are circumstances that you can't control, it's important to recognize the things that you CAN control. Others can't prevent you from feeling happy.

  • Write down at least one thing that makes you feel thankful. The pandemic has made many of us realize that we often appreciate things the most when we no longer have them. Each day, try writing down at least one thing that made you feel thankful over the past 24 hours. What is one thing that you're glad that you have or were able to experience? It can be anything, big or small. Some days may be harder to do this than others but try not to go to bed until you've thought of one thing about the day that made you grateful.

  • Consider how you’d like to move forward. Again, think of things that you can control. It can feel good making a list of things you would like to do or accomplish over a specific time period. The list can be an excellent way to stay focused on the things that you can control, give you something to look forward to, and help you feel good as you scratch things off your list after you've completed them.

  • Get out of the house. With concerns of the pandemic, stay-at-home orders, and social distancing, you may need to be a little creative on where you go and what you do. If you and your kids are doing work and school from home, the days may start feeling repetitive and dull. And although you may all be home together, if you're each doing your own thing, you may begin to feel unconnected. Doing something outside of the house as a family or one-on-one with each child can help break the monotony of always being home and allow yourselves to reconnect. Taking a walk, going on short car rides, or taking a bike ride can be great activities outside of the house.


Other things to consider

· Have self-compassion. Self-compassion means understanding your emotional state in a non-judgmental way, to be able to turn understanding, acceptance, and love inward. Both kids and adults need self-compassion. Click here to learn more about self-compassion and how you can help your kids have self-compassion.

· Practice Chronicling. It can be helpful to consider how you've gotten through other hard times in your life. While past situations may not be what you're going through now, you can use those times as examples of how you can use similar coping strategies to get through this current situation or anything else that may cause distress in your life. This exercise can also help kids get through difficult times.

· Don't be afraid to seek professional help. Therapy can help you move forward, especially when, despite your best efforts, you're unable to feel happy.


In closing, always remember there is hope and, this too shall pass. You have made it through an unprecedented year, and each day brings new opportunities. As we embark on the holiday season, I want you to know that you're not alone. I wish you a healthy and happy holiday season.

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