I’ve never been someone who properly journals, I’ve tried but I’ve never stuck with it, partly because it felt a bit awkward, but mainly because of the amount of time it takes. What I have been able to maintain for the last couple of years though is a gratitude journal.
This is because it only takes about 2 minutes to write before I go to bed. I just jot down 3 things that I’m grateful for that day, some people do more or less. Sometimes they’re big things, like having a husband I love or having a nice house, other times it’s smaller things like a cup of coffee I really enjoyed, or that the rain stopped so I didn’t get soaked when I walked my dogs. It doesn’t matter how big the things you’re grateful for are, the point is that you appreciate them.
The gratitudes don’t need to be detailed at all, I literally write three sentences a day. Some people write more. Some people like to have a new gratitude journal each year, but I just use mine until it fills up.
It’s best to write your gratitudes either in first thing in the morning, or last thing at night. I do it at night because I like to think back over the day. It’s so vital to remind yourself that it doesn’t matter how small your gratitudes are. We all have bad days, sometimes terrible days, and sometimes it can be hard to step outside of the upset and find something good. On the day my dad passed away I was grateful for my dog because I needed quiet and took him for a long walk while I processed what had happened.
It’s also really important not to just be grateful for the same things all the time, search your mind for different good things, particularly pertaining to that particular day.
I don’t tend to look back over my gratitudes, it’s more of an in-the-moment kind of thing.
You can buy some absolutely beautiful notebooks specially designed to be for gratitudes, but I just use a pretty notebook that a friend got me because as Marie Kondo would say, it brings me joy.
Regular journaling has been scientifically proven to improve well-being, but it’s making the point of writing down what we’re grateful for that is particularly powerful. Benefits shown to be associated with gratitude journaling include better sleep, improved self-esteem, increased happiness, decreased stress and increased positivity. Because you’re choosing to see what’s good about your life, you’re choosing positivity over negativity, and so giving less power to negative emotions. Writing the positives down makes them more concrete. You sleep better because you’re thinking positive thoughts rather than worrying and your self-esteem improves because you’re recognising your achievements and being present with them.
And all this for just 3 minutes a day!