Writing in a gratitude journal keeps the spirit of thankfulness alive all year long. A…
Better Mental Health Is a Gratitude Journal Away
Maintaining a positive outlook makes life more enjoyable, but it’s not always easy. Do you wish a positive mood was part of your everyday experience? You may benefit from a gratitude journal.
Having a gratitude practice puts you in a better position to handle the gloomier parts of life. Here’s how to get started.
What Is a Gratitude Journal?
Gratitude means appreciating things and people that are meaningful to you. You may be thankful for friends and family members, supportive cancer services, or a raise you got at work. A gratitude journal is a way to record everything you’re thankful for.
Picking a journal depends on your preferences. You can choose a pre-made gratitude journal, which may include prompts to help you brainstorm what you’re thankful for. However, you don’t have to use a notebook or journal at all.
When you feel grateful, simply make note of it with a:
- Daily planner
- Smartphone app
- Sticky note
The key is to do more than just think about what makes you grateful. Write it down. Whatever you use to track your thankfulness, keep your journal materials on-hand for the long term. You can reflect on your happy thoughts weeks, months, or even years later.
Making the Most of Thankfulness
For maximum benefit, aim to spend 15 minutes with your gratitude journal daily. Do this at least three times a week when you’re getting started. After a few weeks, journaling once a week may be all you need to keep a positive mindset. To make mental health a priority, put journaling on your calendar and make it a routine.
- Be open and honest. Your gratitude journal isn’t for recording facts. It’s a place to explore your emotions and get them on paper. Give thanks for something by explaining how it makes you feel.
- Dig in deep. You don’t have to list everything you’re thankful for. Your gratitude levels may rise if you focus on a couple of topics to journal about in depth.
- Keep things fresh. If you find that you’re grateful for the same person over and over, don’t say the same thing every time. Find new reasons to give thanks. Every day brings new reasons to be grateful.
- Put people over things. New cars and vacations are great, but people have the biggest effect on your life in the long run. Focus on them in your journal.
- Remember the little surprises. Use your journal to note the good things that happen when you least expect them.
- Take a deep breath. Gratitude takes time. Don’t sprint through gratitude exercises just so you can mark them off your to-do list. Decompress before starting on your journal. Doing so allows you to really appreciate the good in your life.
Connecting Your Gratitude Journal to Mental Health
A gratitude journal is more than a sweet idea. Focusing on the positive and writing it down leads you toward improved mental health. The emotion of gratitude has been linked to many mental health benefits, including:
- Boosted confidence
- Decreased risk for anxiety and depression
- Enhanced self-image
- Greater feelings of social connection with others
- Increased happiness, hope, and pride
- Reduced feelings of isolation and loneliness
These mental health benefits come courtesy of a mindset change. Anxiety and depression center on negative thinking. They home in on past difficulties and fears of the future.
Gratitude does the opposite. It helps you to see the good in the world.
With a gratitude journal, you can focus on positive things that happen in your life. Then you write about them. While writing, you can immerse yourself in positivity.
As you give thanks for the good things in your life, anxiety and depression take a backseat. Your brain is too busy to pay attention to unwanted thoughts brought on by negative thinking.
Being Thankful Helps Your Body, Too
Gratitude’s perks go beyond mental health. Practice gratitude, and you’ll become more likely to have healthy habits. Grateful people may be more likely to:
- Attend social events
- Be more patient and humbler
- Cooperate with others
- Exercise regularly
- Maintain and grow close relationships
- Perform kind acts toward others
- Practice generosity
- Take steps toward self-improvement
These good habits can lead to better physical health. Research published by the American Psychological Association found that gratitude journaling was associated with improved heart health in patients with asymptomatic heart failure.
Additionally, feeling grateful may offer the following health perks:
- Better sleep quality and fewer sleep problems
- Decreased risk of substance abuse disorders
- Increased energy levels
- Reduced inflammation
So, whether you’re looking for a way to boost your mental or physical health, a gratitude journal is a great step in the right direction. Pick up your notebook and start today!
Are you struggling with depression, anxiety, or another mental health issue? Schedule an appointment with Carson Tahoe Health Behavioral Health Services for expert care that can complement gratitude journaling.