There’s one thing we can all agree on: 2020 has been challenging (crazy … unexpected … depressing … the adjectives go on and on …) with illness and death from an insidious disease.

And here we are in the month of giving thanks, but let’s face it: Life hasn’t been easy lately. How can you be thankful during this time when so much is on your plate besides turkey and fixings? Here are a few ideas on how to keep your head up and remain focused on gratitude:

Write good things down.

When life gets busy or stressful, it’s easy to let the days pass you by without pausing to reflect on what is good. Get a notebook and start writing down the positive parts of your day, however small. That might be a compliment from a stranger, a relaxing walk on a sunny day, or a tasty new recipe you cooked for the first time. Don’t let the little things that make the days brighter become drowned out by the other stressors. Write them down, acknowledge them, and remember them.

Shift your focus.

It’s human nature to focus on negative things — and boy oh boy, there are plenty of those this year. Instead, focus on the positive parts of life. And when you do encounter difficult times or situations, remember to take a moment to think about what you’ll gain from the experience. If you’re unhappy about where you are, think about how you want to change it for the better.

Practice gratitude.

Sure, there are a lot of things to get down about this year. But there are just as many things for which we should all feel thankful. In your “good things” daily list, make note of the people, moments, and things for which you’re grateful. Remember, gratitude is proven to reduce stress and anxiety and help with depression and fear.

Express gratitude to those you care about most.

Another way to boost your mood is to express gratitude to the important people in your life. This of course can include close friends and family, but there are others who probably mean a lot to you: coworkers, neighbors, and the people in your community you see regularly. Let these people know you appreciate them.

Reflect on what you’ve learned.

We’ve all struggled in some way this year, but we’ve also all changed and learned. Don’t let those lessons pass you by, as they are indeed valuable! This month, take time to ponder what you’ve done or tried that you didn’t have time to do before or how you’ve grown personally.

Acknowledge that technology has made it better.

The pandemic that has disrupted so many aspects of our lives would be far worse without technology. We can FaceTime each other. We can set up game nights via Zoom. There are endless shows to watch on Netflix and websites dedicated entirely to teaching you new things if you’re bored. You can get anything and everything delivered to you if you need it, and you can buy it with a few clicks. And of course, college students can go to school from the comfort of our homes and continue onward with their education. Many are able to continue working from home, too.

This year is one for the history books, without question. But this month, take a moment to commit to positivity and give thanks for all that you have. It’s a unique year, but we’ll get through it and emerge stronger and more resilient.

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