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Thankful For You: What It Means to Be Grateful in 2020

As the holiday season approaches and the COVID-19 pandemic rages on at a record pace throughout the country, typical traditions and family gatherings are set to look different this year. Social distancing practices, mask-wearing, and staying home have become a part of our social fabric over the last nine months. Zoom meetings have become a prime method of social interaction, and many have chosen to forgo in-person connection with friends and family.  Despite these difficulties, our community has spoken loud and clear: young people view precautions, like mask-wearing, to be an act of kindness.

And as someone who is high-risk for COVID myself and a member of Team Born This Way, I try to practice gratitude every single day. One thing I am grateful for is members of our community who prioritize the safety and well-being of themselves and others. However, in doing so, we must recognize that this has been an incredibly difficult year for all of us. If you’re struggling this holiday season, remember:

  • Your feelings are valid. Prolonged separation from friends and family, economic stress, and worry about becoming ill are real, valid concerns – with nearly 1 in 5 adults saying that their mental health was worse than this time last year. Whatever you’re feeling right now is completely okay, and know that you’re not alone. 
  • Take care of yourself.  Self-care isn’t just a buzzword; it’s critically important that we take care of ourselves as a form of kindness to ourselves and others. Taking time to prioritize your physical and mental health, whether that be practicing a mediation, telling yourself affirmations, getting some exercise, listening to our “Songs to Keep You Going” playlist, or watching a favorite Netflix show, practice putting yourself first. For more stress management tips, check out these tips from an expert or these mental health apps
  • It’s okay to have boundaries. Should you decide to stay home this holiday season, declining invitations to social gatherings to stay safe can be tough – especially if it involves extended family you don’t otherwise get to see often. Remember that it’s okay to say no – and using “I statements” like “I love you, I don’t want to put you or anyone else at risk” are a good way to communicate your feelings. If you need help on how to get the conversation started, check out some tips here.
  • You are being kind by staying safe. Although it might not seem like it and 2020 has been an incredibly challenging year for all of us, staying safe and following COVID-19 guidelines is a critical way to show kindness right now. Our actions within the pandemic can have an untold ripple effect on ourselves, our families, as well as complete strangers we may never meet. Like Professor Duckworth says in this Channel Kindness podcast, wearing a mask and following CDC guidelines is kind because it’s keeping you and other people around you safe. Use this opportunity to show kindness – both to yourself and others – as we round out 2020 and get closer to a vaccine. 
  • You can still show gratitude, even from a distance. Despite our less than traditional holidays this year, you can still show gratitude and stay connected even while socially distant. Offer to call friends or family over Zoom, if you can, so that you can safely take part in the festivities. And even when the holidays are over, you can still check in with your friends via video chat, phone calls, or text messaging. For a more personal touch, you can also make handwritten cards–thank you or otherwise–as a way of showing gratitude and checking in with your loved ones. This is a favorite act of kindness among members of our team; we’ve written cards to Solely Sunshine, Love for Our Elders, Find Your Anchor, and more! And this year, we invite you to join us as showing gratitude through letters is one thing that has been found by research to have real benefits on the moods of those who receive them.

There is no denying that 2020 has been a hard year, and one filled with many changes in our day to day lives.  But here at Team Born This Way, we’re thankful for each and every one of you who continue to make those changes in the name of keeping yourself and those around you safe.  By staying safe now, we can gather again later — and this too, shall pass.

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