This Thanksgiving will be unconventional, to say the least. Many of us will be organizing virtual gatherings to prevent the spread of COVID-19. One way or another, this year has impacted each of us. 2020 has thrown curveballs, challenged old ways of thinking, and left us wondering what the future holds. No one knows what will happen in the future, but we can reflect and learn from our past while focusing on the present moment. 

Expressing appreciation and gratitude is one of the most important acts of self-care. It helps us build community, strengthen our relationships, and improves self-esteem. Practicing gratitude has even proven to help our immune system. Here are 20 questions that will help you practice gratitude. I took the time to answer with what I’m grateful for this year and I encourage you to join me

1. What place are you most grateful for?

I am so grateful for my apartment. As I mentioned this is the first time I have lived off-campus and it is such a beautiful place. It is spacious and keeps me warm at night. I couldn’t be more thankful that my dad found this apartment. Many of us are at home right now and missing out on visiting new places, but being able to spend time in a familiar environment can be healing. How has being home been for you?

2. What food are you most grateful for?

Right now I am most grateful for the Green Chef boxes that my roommate makes for us. She orders different healthy recipes to make for dinner. They are delicious and I always appreciate her taking the time to cook for us. Are there any foods you have been particularly enjoying lately?

3. What memory are you grateful for?

A memory I am grateful for is the day I moved into my first real apartment and my girlfriend helped me unpack and set the apartment up. The first few days we didn’t have furniture or utensils so we had to eat on the floor with plastic spoons we borrowed from the leasing office. Having her there to help me acclimate to the new place meant the world to me. It was such a special moment that I will always hold close to my heart. Now it’s your turn to close your eyes and try to visualize a memory that comes to mind when you think about gratitude

4. What smell are you grateful for today?

I am grateful for the smell of my girlfriend’s Glossier perfume. Since we don’t live together and often have to be long-distance, I keep a shirt next to me while I sleep that we sprayed with her perfume. The smell is the sense most tied to memory and being able to smell her shirt keeps me calm when I am stressed out, anxious, or when I just miss her. What smell reminds you of a person or place that you miss? 

5. What tradition are you grateful for?

I am grateful for my family’s tradition of visiting the tree in Rockefeller center and seeing a Broadway show every year around Christmas time with my mom and brother. We won’t be able to do these this year, but I’m sure we will create new and wonderful traditions for 2020. If you’re like me and looking to form new traditions this year, what are some of the creative ideas you have considered?

6. Who in your life are you grateful for?

I am grateful for so many people in my life. My parents, my brother, my girlfriend, my roommate. I love them so much and I hope I am able to show them that every day. Sometimes we forget to remind those we love how important they are to us. If you could reach out to anyone and tell them you appreciate them, who would it be and what’s stopping you?

7. What is one accomplishment you are grateful for?

I struggle to feel a sense of accomplishment, but I would say I am grateful for the protests that I helped organize for Black Lives this year. It was powerful to see my community come together like that and made me feel proud to have helped facilitate that moment. We all deserve to feel a sense of pride and accomplishment in our work. If you’re like me struggling with this try to sit down and write out three or four things you feel proud of.

8. Who is a friend you are grateful for?

I am grateful for all of my pen pals. Shoutout to Cate, Mya, Kylie, and Caroline. Letter writing has been my saving grace of quarantine. It helps me connect with people without requiring screen time and it is always the highlight of my day when I check the mail and someone has written to me. Give writing letters a try and see if you like it and if not there are dozens of other ways to stay connected with friends.

9. Name a person in your family you are grateful for.

I am so incredibly grateful for my mom and dad. I am the luckiest daughter in the world to have parents as loving, accepting, and empowering as they are. Whether biological or chosen family it is so important that we have a strong support system. For anyone who doesn’t feel particularly embraced by their family please remember that you are deserving of unconditional love.

10. What is a life lesson you are grateful for?

I am grateful that this year I learned that I am not a machine and I am allowed to rest without feeling guilty. Living under capitalism we have all been trained to value ourselves by our productivity, but we are complete and deserving people even if all we did today was a nap. 2020 has been packed full of life lessons, what have been your biggest takeaways from this year?