This year has truly been unlike any other year we have ever faced. It is likely that many people around you have expressed that they are feeling worn-out, uncertain, or stressed. Perhaps you have even had these thoughts. As the holidays are approaching, now is a great time to intentionally develop a habit of thankfulness. Here are three techniques that your family can use to cultivate gratitude this thanksgiving.

Make a List Counting your blessings is more than just a good idea, it has proven to help many people lift their spirits. When you take a moment to be still and reflect on all that you have today and all you have had in the past, it can make it easier to have hope for the future. If you look back to the past only to recall hard times, you may still find encouragement knowing that even though you have been hard pressed before, those difficulties helped mold you into becoming an overcomer. Sharing stories of how you have overcome adversity in the past can bring comfort and reassurance to others (and yourself.)

Application: As a family, try writing down on a little slip of paper one thing each day for which you are grateful. Place the papers in a jar. On Thanksgiving, read them out loud. See how many overlap. See if you can guess whose is whose. You may find that your children are grateful for simple things that you have come to take for granted.

Serve Others Serving others helps move our focus from ourselves and our present circumstances toward others and the bigger world in which we live. It is amazing how spending time serving others (something that sounds selfless) is actually something that personally fortifies and enriches your own life—but it does! When we spend time with others, we open the door to seeing how much we have in common with them, we give others an opportunity to whisper hope into our lives, and we give ourselves a chance to bring good news into the lives of others.

Application: Directly interacting with others may be limited this year, but that doesn’t mean that there are not opportunities to serve. From packing an Operation Christmas Child shoe box to sending Christmas cards to shut-ins or buying groceries for families in need through your community grocery store, there are still plenty of safe ways to serve others this holiday season.

Let It Go For most of us, Christmas means a huge influx of toys, clothes, gadgets, gizmos, and—stuff! That makes the weeks leading up to Christmas a great time to clean out from your home things you have outgrown or no longer need. Your gently used clothing and household items may be a real blessing to those in need this year.

Application: As a family, go from room to room in your home, cleaning and gathering items you could share with others. Many donation centers are beginning to accept donations on a limited basis, so call ahead before you go.

We are thankful for our members! Are you a new NCHE member or thinking of becoming a member? Start here.