An Intentional Thanksgiving
The phrase, “attitude of gratitude” may seem like a cliche, but during challenging times, taking the time to pause and experience gratitude may help to change your perspective and give you a more positive outlook on life.
The pandemic seems to have placed us all in a new world. For some neurodivergent young adults, this is an exciting time filled with new possibilities. But other parents may find that their neurodivergent young adult children feel anxious or unsure about returning to what seems to be a new way of life. Thanksgiving 2021 may be a year of new traditions for your family or a time to find comfort in familiarity and traditions. Here are some tips for finding the holiday that works for you and your family.
One tool for framing the Thanksgiving holiday is to focus on gratitude by choosing to highlight the positive aspects of life. You can acknowledge that not everything is perfect, and that is okay, but hopefully there are still things for which to be grateful.
Be open to a different kind of Thanksgiving:
For many folks, this Thanksgiving may be smaller due to family and friends feeling anxious about being in large groups or worried about traveling. But a small gathering can be lovely too! Focus on the positive aspects of a smaller gathering such as less pressure, less time cleaning up, and more quality time with people you care about. Many neurodivergent young people can be overwhelmed when trying to socialize in a big group. Your child may be delighted with a small holiday celebration where they feel more comfortable and secure.
Teach your young adult how to set an intention for the day:
Explain that setting an intention is the act of stating what you intend to accomplish through your actions. When a person is being intentional about something, they are focused in the moment on what they are doing, and why they are doing it.
One example of how a person can be intentional is getting out of bed in the morning and stopping to think about one positive action they can take that day. The thought may be, “Today I am going to practice self-care by going outside for a walk in the fresh air” or “Today I am going to let a friend know that I appreciate their kindness to me.” Being intentional is one way to have an attitude of gratitude all year long.
Stop during the day and take time to reflect:
Sometimes, without even noticing, we rush from one task to another without taking any time to stop and just take a breath. Think about the phrase: “Stop and smell the roses.” This means that you actively decide to slow down and truly notice all of the good things happening around you. If you find yourself feeling rushed and overwhelmed on Thanksgiving Day, try to stop for a moment and let your family know that you are taking a moment to reflect. Let family members know that you appreciate the effort it takes to travel so that the family could be together or the time it takes to make a special dish for everyone to enjoy. Take the time to reflect on the day and to experience the emotion of gratitude.
Express your gratitude:
Teach your adult child about the importance of showing gratitude for others by sending a thank you note, email or text. Show them how important it is for the people in your life to know that they have positively affected your life and that you feel grateful toward them.
And remember, being grateful doesn’t mean that you bury your feelings about what is actually going on in your life. If you are feeling sadness, anger, or grief, it is important to allow yourself to feel those feelings. You can still feel intense emotions while still being aware of the things or people in your life for whom you are grateful.
And research has shown that actively practicing an attitude of gratitude is also good for your physical well-being. It helps with lowering stress levels, improving sleep, pain tolerance, and self-esteem.
From all of us at Advance LA, we wish you and your family a very happy Thanksgiving.
Jeri Rochman, JD, MS
Jeri Rochman, JD, MS, is the Advance LA Director of Community Outreach, a Life Skills Coach, National Board Certified Counselor and Certified Parent Educator. Interested in learning more about Advance LA’s services?