Life can sometimes be challenging. It can feel so much easier to focus on the bad things that have happened to us that all we can see is the negative. This can lead to a lowering of your mood and general well-being, as well as most likely feeling more anxious and possibly depressed. Is it possible that a gratitude journal could help with these things?
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That was quite a heavy way to open this article, but it's an important thing to consider when we are looking at creating a Gratitude Journal. The purpose of a Gratitude Journal is to focus on the good stuff and to be grateful for the good in our daily lives.
You don't always have to be thankful for the big things, and I know that it can be hard to find positive things to be grateful for when you are feeling overwhelmed and going through a tough spot. But... you might be thankful for some of the following:
- A roof over your head
- Food in the fridge
- Owning more than one pair of shoes
- Being able to brush your teeth every day
- Having a good friend
- Being able to turn the heating on at your leisure
All of these simple things we tend to forget are little luxuries! Imagine how icky you might feel if you didn't have a toothbrush and the space to be able to clean your teeth. Something as small as that, being thankful that you can do this daily action, is a great way to start seeing what else you might be grateful for.
A Gratitude Journal can be a mix of a regular journal, but it focuses more on specific moments of your day and taking time to feel and give thanks for them. You don't need to delve in and provide many reasons; you can simply write, 'I am grateful that I have food in the house, that I can eat when I am hungry. Acknowledging that simple thing, and taking time to feel thankful for this, will elevate your mood and show your mind that there are so many things we can be grateful for.
When should I write in a Gratitude Journal?
Some people like to start their day by writing out a few thanks for things they are grateful for. For example, a great night's sleep, the promise of a good day, or a new sunrise. Doing this means they can start their day off with the feeling of gratitude, helping them focus on finding positives in situations as their day progresses.
Some people enjoy downloading their thoughts at the end of the day. Making a note of all the things that were good and what they were grateful for - something like an excellent meeting at work, lunch with a friend, or a nice phone call. Whatever it is, it is an excellent exercise to reflect on the day and find all the good things that happened today.
Taking time in the morning, evening or both will help raise your mood and enable you to look for the good things in challenging situations.
But what will I get from keeping a gratitude journal?
Many people find that by practising gratitude, you rid the negative energy and emotion from your life, reduce your overall stress and anxiety levels and find the ability to see silver linings.
These are currently my favourite journaling tools:
As you start to journal in this method, you might find it hard or uncomfortable to look at what is going on, especially when you feel overwhelmed. Let's say, for example, you are stressed at work because everyone comes to you for things. If we take time to look at what is good about this, it could be that people come to you because you are a problem solver. You show them confidence in your ability to complete work. It might be that it shows you the need for positive boundaries, which would make your workload feel more manageable.
The overall point is; that no matter how hard the day has been, try and find at least one good thing from the day. I promise you will find more than one thing to be grateful for as nothing is too small to give thanks for.
How should I lay out my gratitude journal?
I lay mine out with the date, and the time I am doing my entry, so that if I want to read back and reflect on how I was feeling, I can identify patterns more easily.
A lined page would work well for this type of journaling, but don't limit you - if you find it easier to sketch out what you are grateful for, do that on some blank pages! Whenever you are writing your gratitude list out, I suggest making the entry in its little section, so you can quickly identify each one.
However you feel inspired to add to your gratitude journal, do that.