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Linda Samuels, CPO-CD®

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The Surprising Power of Gratitude On Your Stress

Are you experiencing any pre-holiday frenzy? In conversations with and observations of clients, friends, family, and strangers, the added stress experienced this time of year is noticeable. We’re either preparing to host or preparing to be hosted. Both can involve planning, organizing, shopping, cooking, and traveling. Even the most grounded among us can feel pressured and on edge. I had an interesting discovery this week that I’d like to share with you.

In preparation for Thanksgiving, I was running some errands. The parking lots were crowded, as were the stores. The traffic jams in the store aisles were met on the other side with long, slow check out lines. Navigating through the sea of people was tiring. I couldn’t wait to leave the crowds and return home.

As I exited the last store, the sun was setting. The clouds and sky were gorgeous shades of blue, orange and pink. I stopped, breathed slowly, and soaked in the visual feast that nature offered.

This pause helped alleviate my stress and focus on feelings of gratitude. Instead of feeling frazzled, I thought about the joy of having the family together at our house for Thanksgiving. The magnificent fall sky worked it’s magic.

There is so much to be grateful for. What are you noticing? I’d love to hear your thoughts. Come join the conversation.





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Reader Comments (22)

Although I try to be away from stores at holidays (shopping previously), when it's absolutely necessary I set my mood to spend long time in lines and struggling amongst the crowd. But what you point out is a good way to have a quick relax from that. I notice that I'm grateful for having what I need to live a comfortable life and most important for being alive another day.

November 24, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterNacho Eguiarte

@Nacho- It's so true that avoiding the stress-producers in the first place is another good strategy. I love your gratitude reminder of being mindful of daily comfort and waking up each day. Grateful for you, my friend.

November 24, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterLinda Samuels

thank you for the reminder to be mindful during this time of the year! One can easily forget all of the blessing we are thankful for... when someone stills your parking space!

What an amazing picture!

November 24, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterCris Sgrott-Wheedleton

@Cris- I'm with you 100%! So many blessings indeed. And they're all around us IF we allow that pause to notice them. It's so easy to get caught up in the craziness of the season and forget about the joy that comes from time spent with our loved ones or the beautiful sights, sounds and scents of the season. Grateful for you, Cris!

November 24, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterLinda Samuels

Everyone in our town was noticing a glorious sunset on Sunday evening - what a show! I think these uncertain times help us to recognize what we are truly grateful for: health, family, friends, nature, warmth, rest, promise. My wish this holiday season is that we would embrace the traditions that bring us joy, release those that don't, and be fully present in the moment of grace we have!

November 24, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterSeana Turner

@Seana- I'm so happy that you saw the sunset too! I've spoken with several people including my Mom and Cris that also witnessed it's magnificence. So interesting that you point to "uncertain times." I suppose that things are always uncertain. And in the midst of that uncertainty we can, as you say embrace all that's joyful, stay present, and grateful for this moment. So grateful for you.

November 24, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterLinda Samuels

I've found that its not just the 'holiday' stress that gets to me as much as what's happening in our world right now. Every time I feel myself slipping into worry, I remind myself that our political leaders have repeated warned us to take care not allow terrorism to steal our joy or change our lives. Such reminders are the spring-board that immediately launches a different thinking pattern for me...and that's GRATITUDE! This shift is deliberate; an 'in-the-moment,' mindfully conscious choice, and a fabulous way to instantly de-stress.

November 24, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterSheila Delson, CPO-CD

My cousin and her daughter are visiting from Australia, their 1st time here, and 1st time seeing snow. To revel in the beauty of the snow with them made me forget that it was winter making it's presence known. By seeing it through their eyes it has helped me remember how beautiful the winter can be.

November 24, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterJill Robson

Call me crazy but I actually like the "hub bub" of the holiday when it is done right. I actually enjoy the connectedness of seeing friends and neighbors in town running errands or at the supermarket shopping for groceries to prepare their holiday meal. There is a lot of joy and gratitude hearing "have a happy holiday" or "wishing you and your family a joyous thanksgiving". It actually helps me slow down and enjoy the moments and take it all in.

November 24, 2015 | Unregistered Commenterleslie josel

Grateful for you! :)

November 24, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterCris Sgrott-Wheedleton

@Sheila- No question that this is a dramatic time in the world, and one that can easily let worry become our moment by moment experience. I love how you've allowed the "reminders" to deliberately choose gratitude over worry. Grateful for you, my friend.

@Jill- What a wonderful gift…being with family AND experiencing the magic of snow for the first time. I love the photos that you posted. They reminded me of how beautiful the landscape is when it's covered in white. While I'm not a huge fan of cold weather, there are the parts of winter I DO enjoy like hot chocolate, being covered in a pile of blankets, and having snow days life just stops for a time. Grateful to know you.

@Leslie- I can see what you mean. In between the "hub bub" are those precious moments of connection, good wishes, and excitement that this time of year brings. Thank you for reminding me about that part. I'm happy to know that you too have found ways to soak in the joy that's all around us. Grateful for our connection.

@Cris- Big hugs to you :)

November 24, 2015 | Registered CommenterLinda Samuels

One year, when tasked with waiting in one of those long lines, I brought a book with me, one that was completely absorbing. I didn't mind the long line as it gave me time to indulge in my book. Sometimes planning for those times you know will be stressful by doing something you enjoy really helps.

November 27, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterAlys Milner

@Alys- What a great idea! These days I notice that most people waiting on line are immersed in their smartphones. It can happen to me too. However, one of my favorite things while waiting on line is to people watch or daydream or strike up a conversation with a stranger. But I love your idea of reading. Nice! Grateful for you.

November 27, 2015 | Registered CommenterLinda Samuels

I've always felt very strongly that Christmas decorating shouldn't start before December 1 and for several years it seems to be happening much earlier, not just in the stores, but at homes too. I've responded to it by blocking it out, to the point where I never got the "Christmas spirit."

This year, when I noticed decorations going in up early November, I just accepted it and have been enjoying their beauty. It wasn't conscious decision I made; it just happened, but I'm more excited about the upcoming holidays than I've been in years.

November 28, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterJanet Barclay

@Janet- I know what you mean about the holidays being extended longer from a marketing and merchandising standpoint. As you pointed out, this can either be disturbing OR it be enjoyable, depending upon the perspective. I love the extra sparkle and glitter that happens at this time of year. I think it adds some "light" to the generally gray and bare landscape.

Wishing you a very happy holiday season. So grateful for you.

November 28, 2015 | Registered CommenterLinda Samuels

Hi Linda, thanks for reminding us how important it is to sit back and enjoy the wonderful things that are happening in our lives, instead of focusing on the stress that comes with the holidays. We often forget the good and focus on the little things that overwhelm us. Thanks for the reminder!

November 28, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterKathy McEwan

@Kathy- Gratitude can be an easy thing to overlook, especially when we're feeling stressed and overwhelmed. There is so much to be grateful for…the big and little moments. Thank you for joining the conversation. Grateful for you.

November 28, 2015 | Registered CommenterLinda Samuels

Stopping to enjoy the moment and be grateful, is one of the ways that I, too, recommend for de-stressing the holidays. But really, the more I think about it, isn't gratitude the answer to almost everything?

November 28, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterHazel Thornton

I run in the mornings before the sun comes up and I'm always looking at my surroundings. I live in a picturesque New England town with a beautiful Main Street which is my run route and I'm always taking the time to savor my alone time, centering myself for the day and counting my blessings... all while huffing and puffing!

November 28, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterSarah Soboleski

Grateful for both of you. Thank you for joining the conversation.

@Hazel- Gratitude certainly gives us a perspective that can have a positive influence on everything. So you might be right that it's the "answer."

@Sarah- What a lovely image that you've shared. I admire your dedication to not just running each day, but also for letting that time be about centering yourself and "counting your blessings." Such a great way to begin each day.

November 29, 2015 | Registered CommenterLinda Samuels

Linda, every Thanksgiving and Christmas, me, my husband, and our 3 year old travel all over Central Florida to visit family. It's always been pretty stressful for us. Thank you for the reminder to soak it all in and be grateful!

November 29, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterNicole Ramer

@Nicole- Traveling can definitely be stressful. I remember it took my husband and I some time to figure out how to make traveling a positive experience. Figuring out what we each needed (and later on, what our daughters needed) to make travel an adventure rather than a stress-inducer, was so helpful. As a result we have some pretty happy memories about our journeys. Wishing you and yours wonderful travels ahead.

November 29, 2015 | Registered CommenterLinda Samuels

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