What is it and why do you need one?
Many of us have been discovering new mindfulness, yoga, and stress reduction practices throughout lockdown to keep us calm and sane during this unsettling time. There is another incredible practice that we believe does wonder for our mental health. That is, of course, gratitude journaling.
A gratitude journal is simply a dedicated notebook (or even a dedicated Notes page on your phone) where you record all the things you are thankful for in your life. This is a great habit to get into on a daily basis (as I’ll get into later) and is an easy place to start if you want to get into journaling.
How To Practise Gratitude
Gratitude journaling is one of the quickest and easiest forms of journaling and you can begin by adding it to your nightly ritual. Each evening, after brushing your teeth and climbing into bed, take out your beautiful Gratitude Journal from your bedside table and write down three things that you experienced during the day that you are thankful for.
These can be anything from a morning hug from your partner or a delicious cup of coffee, to new work prospects or a stunning sky on your drive home.
Of course, some days thinking of three things you appreciate and are grateful for will be harder than others, especially when you’re going through something troubling or traumatic. But if you dig deep enough and shift your mindset to highlighting the positives, you’ll be able to find three things (even if they’re the tiniest moments) to be thankful for.
Try to do this every day.
When you begin to convert negative energy into appreciation through a daily gratitude practice, growth, creativity, empathy, and self-esteem can bloom.
Why Is Gratitude Journaling Good For You?
Journaling, in general, has been proven to help regulate your emotions and leave you feeling happier – dubbed The Bridget Jones Effect – and science seems to show that gratitude journaling takes that one step further being good for your physical and mental health. Clinical trials at the University of California indicated that keeping a gratitude journal can lower blood pressure, improve your immune system, help you sleep better, and even have better heart health.
Many die-hard gratitude journallers would probably argue that you don’t need scientific trials to prove the benefits of keeping a list of things your thankful for. Just see some of the quotes below about how much people love it and give it a go for yourself!
Lauren from WhatIsPerfection.com says: “You’ll see how easy it is to start feeling good (even if your life isn’t where you want it to be just yet.)”
Author, Ann Voskamp states: “Being joyful isn’t what makes you grateful. Being grateful is what makes you joyful.”
And Blogger Lori Geurin exclaims: “Learning to be intentional about thinking and expressing gratitude has been life-changing for me and it can be for you too!”
Top Tips For Gratitude Journaling
Buy a special notebook
It can be a lovely idea to have a completely separate notebook for your gratitude practice as this allows you to know exactly what mindset you’re stepping into when you open the journal and allows it to be a space for appreciation and positive vibes. It also means that any time you’re feeling a little low, you can pick up your dedicated gratitude journal and be reminded of the little things that have made you smile over the past weeks/months/years.
Keep it simple
A gratitude journal really doesn’t have to be anything fancy. In fact, the simpler the better as it means you’ll be much more likely to stick to it and make it part of your routine. Three is the magic number after all, so using this as a guideline is a good idea. You might even find when you begin to change your mindset and start noticing all the positives in your life that you want to write five a day instead as your life is just so full of abundance.
Start by setting yourself a 21-day challenge
There are various studies which aim to explain how long it takes for a habit to form (anywhere from 18 to 254 days, apparently!) but setting yourself a challenge can be a great way to start off your gratitude journaling practice to give yourself the best chance of making it a ritual you stick to. Twenty-one days (or a perhaps a whole month) is a decent length of time to start with, and hopefully, by the time three weeks is up you’ll love gratitude journaling so much that you want to do it every day regardless.
Don’t judge yourself
As I said before, some days you’ll find it easy to reel off three things you’re grateful for whereas others it will feel like drawing blood from a stone. But it’s important to remember not to judge yourself when you write in your gratitude diary. Nothing is too big or small to be mentioned and everything you write is valid. You never even need to show your gratitude journal to anyone so feel free to write exactly what you feel at the time.
From time to time, your ego may chime in with its loud voice telling you those things on your gratitude list ‘aren’t good enough’, but remember that all your journal points and experiences are worthwhile and that you are enough no matter how you’re feeling or what you’re going through. While journaling can be an excellent way to work through your personal traumas and difficulties, this specific journal is for gratitude and positivity only.
Do you keep a gratitude journal? What are your favourite tips and tricks? Let us know in the comments below. If you haven’t kept one before, why not set yourself a 21-day challenge and see how it goes?