Simple Ways To Foster Gratitude & Connection

During the hustle and bustle of December, it can be difficult to slow down. I get it! But that’s why it’s even more important to insert brief pauses into your day for gratitude and connection. And the good news is, it’s really not hard to do. Today I’m sharing six simple ways to express gratitude and foster connection.

1. Create breathing room

A big part of having the mental space to connect with people and feel gratitude is by creating breathing room in your calendar and to-do list. One year when we were preparing for Violet’s birthday, Laurel and I tried and exercise where we prioritized our to-do list in order of most to least fun, which made it easy to see (and let go of!) items on the bottom of the list. To-do lists should be a helpful tool, not a dreaded tether!

2. Take a moment to reach out

Whether it's by phone, e-mail, or a quick text, there's a lot of positive power in simply letting someone know you are thinking of them. Reach out to and connect with someone you care about with a simple expression of "I'm thinking of you" or "I'm grateful for you."

3. Integrate your kids

Look for ways to integrate your kids into holiday activities and preparation. For me and the girls baking and making homemade gifts is how we connect. I always look towards easy projects, so we can chat as we go (versus having to focus on a complicated recipe)!

4. Stop and be mindful

Throughout your day, take a moment to stop and look around. Absorb what's going on instead of rushing to the next thing. I am certainly prone to launch into "go" mode (e.g., tidying, doing dishes) when Violet plays independently. But the moments where I slow down and simply pick my head up for a moment are wonderful.

5. Experiment with your own connection gestures

Explore ways to foster connection that are meaningful to you. For example, I have realized over the years that instead of banging out a label mail merge for my holiday cards, I love handwriting the addresses instead. With a nice pen. Yes, this slows down the process, but it gives me a chance to think about each recipient as I write down their address.

6. Let go

There’s a parallel to creating breathing room in your calendar and to-do list and that is letting go of personal negativity. The holidays are a time when baggage resurfaces. It's not always easy, but try to let go of bad mojo that's absorbing critical bandwidth so you'll have more room in your heart for gratitude and reconnection. If you're feeling stress about upcoming family interactions, be sure to read Jules's post on preserving holiday mental health and Jane’s post on reducing holiday stress.

Have a wonderful holiday everyone; I am so grateful for the connection we all share here!

Simple ways to foster gratitude and connection

Simple ways to foster gratitude and connection