As I mentioned in last week’s post, gratitude is a bit of an abstract concept. When I started researching it the first thing I thought was ‘OK, this is all well and good but what are the practical ways I can introduce it into my life’. Much with mindfulness, I researched every day things you can do to be mindful, so this week I’m going to do the same with gratitude.
In my research, the main thing that came up again and again was the concept of a gratitude journal. This is a book that you write in a couple of times a week, however many suit you best, in order to remind yourself of the things in your life that you feel thankful for.
Don’t overdo it
Most studies have shown that it is more effective to write in a journal two or three times a week, rather than every night. It is important that we decide how often to write, and stick to it, and sometimes promising ourselves to write every night is too much of an ask and can make us inconsistent.
Go into detail about situations, events or things that you are thankful for. Be descriptive about the positive emotions that they make you feel, this will help you to relive these emotions as you write and reread your entries.
Write before bed
Most of my research has shown that right before bed is the best time to enter your journal. This gives you a chance to reflect on the positive parts of the day that has passed. This is especially useful after a day that you might feel hasn’t gone well, picking out even the smallest things that we are thankful for can change our whole perception of the day before we end it by sleeping. Studies have shown that gratitude journals can increase the quality of sleep.
Revisit your happy moments
On days where you feel unwell, or are struggling, look back through your journal and remind yourself of all the things and people in your life that you are grateful for. This can often have a genuine impact on how you are feeling in that moment.
It’s the simple things
Your gratitude journal doesn’t need to be deep, it can be full of simple things, like ‘family’ or ‘a good book/meal/cup of coffee!’, keep it light when you want, and get deep when you want. It’s all up to you! It’s your safe space where you can write whatever you want and not feel judged.
There’s strength in numbers
Write down at least 5 things that you are happy for in each entry.
As always…there’s an app for this!
$2.99 (or the pound equivalent) – easy to use interface with little heart symbols to track what you are grateful for each day!
Includes features such as adding pictures and a calendar, you can also import your entries from the gratitude app…
…Gratitude 365 Pro
$1.99 (or the pound equivalent) Available for iPhone and allows users to track their journal day by day, as well as sync to other social media apps.
$9.99 for Mac, $4.99 for iPhone – a digital diary complete with pictures, maps and notes. Intended as more of a daily journal than an occasional entry journal. This means it might not be suitable for those who are planning on entering just 2 or 3 times each week.