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Gratitude Can be Hard

During this holiday season, I personally find gratitude harder to practice. In this season of festive cheer, if you feel the same way, I get it! It can be hard...the food that comes with socializing is often not food heart failure patients with sodium restrictions can partake in, if you have limited energy any extra socializing is tough, and it's hard to see pictures on social media of people smiling at cameras not seemingly impacted by the stress we can face!

The stress of medical bills, and overall financial stress if you have had to change career tracks. Worry about our future, and will we have worse functionality next year? I do not know about you but thinking about the future has its positives and negatives when you have a condition, that for many, is progressive.

Having gratitude with heart failure can be hard

As the years have gone on, I have noticed that what I can eat at a holiday dinner table is dwindling if I want to avoid excess fluid in the following days. Given that, while others think about all of the exciting things the next year holds, I think it's only natural for me to wonder about how much pain and unpleasant things will I have to endure next year. Will 2023 involve a trip to the cath lab? Any more 911 calls? Will I be admitted to a hospital again? Will I have any more scares of rising BNP?

Said another way, living in the moment is hard when it is literally the season of looking forward and thinking about what you think or want the next year to hold.

Some things I consider to help me through this time of year

Not forcing feelings

So first, I think forced anything does not work. It just does not. You may be surrounded by people who love the holidays, etc., but I do not think it's helpful to feel bad if you are not in a festive mood. I think you have to let yourself feel however you feel, and cope how you want. Binge-watch your favorite show, eat bad food within reason, etc.

Having realistic expectations

One thing that has helped me in gratitude is having realistic expectations. I could be waiting for the day that I am grateful for the fun night out throwing back a few drinks, but that will never happen. Eating out is hard, drinking does not happen anymore, impossible. I used to enjoy that and be grateful for certain kind of memories, but you have to be realistic about the memories that you will be having. Or at least try. It is hard, so again no forced timeline unless it's doing a bit each day.

Slowing down and appreciating different things

The next thing is being forced to slow down can help you appreciate different things in life, things that you might not have even noticed. For instance, just lying on the couch cuddling with a partner, having a good laugh maybe over a cup of coffee with a friend, etc. There truly are a lot of things to be grateful for, big and small.

Trying not to let negativity take over

The last thing, I think, is trying to not let the negative overtake your life. It IS tough. It can be so easy to ruminate on the worry, frustrations, etc., that we can miss what is going on around us. I am not going to say that financial stuff, health stuff, or lack of energy can be easily 'compartmentalized' because these are all basic needs. But at least I think it's worth trying to put them aside if you feel like they are crowding out other experiences we are missing. At least try :)

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