It’s not uncommon for people to take stock of their physical health and then take steps to improve it, whether setting a daily goal of 10,000 steps or cutting back on sugary treats. Although mental health tends to get less attention, goals to improve your emotional well-being are equally important and attainable. One realistic goal that could help is to keep a gratitude journal.
Practicing gratitude is a worthwhile habit for everyone, and it can take on many different forms. A gratitude journal is a popular way to recognize and appreciate the positive things in your life. It’s as simple as taking a little time each day to reflect on and record the people, places or things that are special to you. Here are some of the benefits of adopting this daily practice:
- Alleviate stress. Taking a break from your busy schedule to acknowledge the things you’re thankful for is a calming practice that reduces stress levels and anxiety. This can result in better sleep and other improvements that have a ripple effect, boosting your overall well-being.
- Become more self-aware. When you have a better understanding of what’s good in your life and what’s important to you, you tend to understand yourself better. This can unlock your confidence, creativity, leadership abilities, and so much more.
- Strengthen relationships. No relationship is perfect, and too often we take the people in our lives for granted. Your relationships with friends, family and loved ones will be stronger when you focus on their positive attributes rather than where they may fall short. You’ll also be more generous and empathetic towards those individuals who mean so much to you.
- Gain perspective. Especially in the age of social media, it’s easy to compare yourself to others. You can quickly succumb to a mindset that focuses on what you don’t have and what you haven’t accomplished. A gratitude journal helps you shift the narrative to what you do have and what actually matters.
- Improve your mood. While it’s true that keeping track of everything you’re grateful for naturally boosts your mood, it’s important to note that a gratitude journal can be particularly impactful on days when you’re feeling down. Flipping through previous entries will remind you of what makes you happy and all the good things in your life.
Keep it simple and consistent
You’ll have more success sticking with your gratitude journal if you keep your practice simple and consistent. To avoid making it feel like a chore, choose a method and routine that works best for you. That could be keeping a notebook by your bed so you can write a quick entry before you go to sleep. Or it might be taking a 10-minute break during the day to make a note in your phone. Some gratitude journals come with prompts to help you get started and apps that can help you with voice journaling.
Whatever form it takes, your journal is yours alone. You don’t need to worry about being judged as you work your way to a healthier state of mind.
Dr. David Lowenstein is a Columbus, Ohio-based psychologist with more than 35 years of experience. He conducts individual, family, and group therapy sessions in his German Village office and also via telehealth. Dr. Lowenstein is also available for expert forensic testimony, and for educational workshops and presentations. He is frequently called upon as an expert source for print, radio, and broadcast media. Contact Dr. Lowenstein at Lowenstein & Associates, 691 South Fifth Street, Columbus, Ohio, 43206, or call 614.443.6155 or 614.444.0432.