It seems really easy to give thanks or be happy when everything is right in your life. But what about when everything seems wrong? If you are experiencing a chronic condition such as lymphedema (LE) or are walking through a diagnosis such as breast cancer, being grateful or happy may be the last thing on your mind this Thanksgiving. And yeah, it’s 2020. It’s really easy to justify being ungrateful or just plain grumpy in the middle of this difficult year.
So how can you find joy, peace, or gratitude this season – and why should you bother? Find what works for you. Here are a few things that have helped others choose thankfulness when it doesn’t make sense.
Why Gratitude Matters
The mind-body connection is a very real thing. A great deal of scientific study has been done to examine the relationship. While physical health can certainly impact emotional wellness, the converse is also true. Happiness and gratefulness can have a positive effect on health!
Whether recovering from a surgical procedure, coming back from an injury, having a good quality of life with a chronic condition, or battling a dangerous disease, the attitude with which you face your health challenge can make a difference in your recovery, pain levels, and quality of life.
Make a Daily “Thankful” List
Some call it a joy list, others a gratitude list or a thankful bucket. Whatever you call it, write it down. Find one thing to be grateful for each day. Maybe even set a timeframe, like 21 days (the time it allegedly takes to form or change a habit) or 40 days (Lent). Start today. Write down something to be grateful for and keep the list someplace you can see it and be reminded by it daily.
Some days may be easier than others. And some “thanks” will be grandiose (family or faith) while others will seem simple (watching the squirrel run along the fence with his giant bushy tail). There are no right or wrong answers. Just choose something to be grateful for every day.
If you are sharing with others, you cannot be isolated. Connection and community are so critical to mental, emotional, and physical well-being! This can be as easy and simple as a text or phone call telling someone you’re thinking of them. Maybe you have a creative bend… draw a picture or knit a scarf and pass it along to a friend or a stranger!
The simple act of giving can feed the giver’s soul as much, if not more, than the recipient’s! You’re likely to find by sharing or giving something away, you feel happier, more blessed, and more grateful than you did beforehand.
Do Something to Make Yourself Smile
If fresh air and beautiful scenery bring you joy and make it easier to choose gratefulness, find a way to get outside. Can’t go for a hike? Go for a drive with the windows down through a country road, favorite music on, friend by your side.
Love to read? Find a book club! Even in these times of social distancing, technology makes it possible to read digitally, listen to an audiobook, and “meet” online with other like-minded bibliophiles.
Lamenting what you don’t have? It’s understandable. If you have lymphedema, have undergone a mastectomy, have breast cancer or have recently completed treatments, you may be feeling lost, alone, confused, or generally angry at the turn your life has taken. At Pretty in Pink Boutique, we understand. And we know how important it is to walk through and acknowledge those feelings.
But remember that grief is a journey, not a place to set up camp. So, feel all the feelings, process all the emotions and stages of mentally and emotionally coping with your diagnosis, then try to find one ray of happiness, gratefulness, or other sources of sunshine to light your path on this journey. And know you’re not alone.
Please contact us via phone or email and let us know how we can help.