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Should I start a gratitude journal?

by Melinda Jennings on Saturday 7 April 2018


When you think about it, life’s pretty good. It’s full of many little things to be grateful for, which, unfortunately, we sometimes tend to end up taking for granted.

But when you take a step back from the daily grind of life – from the traffic jam you’re stuck in or the pile of dirty dishes you’ve got to get through – it doesn’t take long to start recognising all the amazing things to be thankful for.

It can be simple things – a roof over your head, friends to share funny cat videos with, or a song coming on when you’re in the supermarket that gives you the best kind of nostalgia. These little moments can easily pass us by, but a gratitude journal forces us to stop, take stock, and really appreciate all that we have.

What are the benefits of a gratitude journal?

Taking a little bit of time out of your day or week to jot down the things you’re grateful for can have a pretty big impact. In fact, scientists who have looked into gratitude journals say that they can lower stress levels, help you feel calmer at night (and get a better sleep), become more self-aware, and, of course, generate a more positive outlook on life. 

Getting started with your gratitude journal

While it’s important to find the approach to journaling that works best for you, there are some guidelines that have been proven to be effective in helping you not only start, but stick to it. 

•      Firstly, take the time to choose a nice journal. Don’t just grab any old exercise book; treat yourself to something that looks good so you’ll feel inspired to actually use it

•      Next, you want to turn your gratitude journaling into a routine. That means both setting aside the same time of day (maybe first thing in the morning, last thing you go before bed, or even in your lunch break sitting in the park), and designing habits around it (such as drinking a cup of tea while you write, listening to some music, lighting a candle – whatever makes you feel relaxed and ready to flex those muscles of gratitude)

•      When you’re writing down what you’re grateful for, try not to overthink it. It doesn’t have to be giant gestures of grandeur; like we already mentioned, it can be as simple as the smell of coffee or the simple fact that you woke up this morning. The longer you journal, the more you’ll get into the habit of looking out for those little things that warm the cockles of your heart as you go about your day 

•      It’s important to express yourself however it works best for you. For many people, that will mean writing down a few lines every day in a journal, but that’s not the case for everyone. Feel free to draw what you’re thankful for, record your moments through photos you keep in a specific folder on your phone, or follow another creative avenue you enjoy

•      It’s important to note that for a gratitude journal, quality over quantity is key. That means rather than stretching yourself to write lengthy novellas every day (and more than likely getting over journaling pretty quickly in the process), focus on the specific, in-depth things that you’re grateful for

•      On that same note, you really don’t have to be writing in your journal every day. In fact, a lot of research suggests that daily journaling can have the opposite effect than intended, in that it makes those moments of gratitude no longer special. Aiming for 1-3 times a week is a great way to go

A gratitude journal doesn’t have to eat up a lot of your time, but it can help you start to enjoy some huge benefits. You may even be surprised at how much stress you shed and how much energy you gain thanks to the simple act of refocusing your perspective on all the things you have to be grateful for. 

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