The science of gratitude may still be in its early days, but there is a growing body of research supporting the idea that practicing gratitude can improve our wellbeing. The potential benefits include better sleep, protection from stress and depression, more fulfilling relationships, and greater resilience.
Those who come to my yoga classes will know that I often include a gratitude meditation at the end of my sessions. I’ve also been gratitude journalling for a few years now and have found it a really helpful exercise to shift my outlook and bolster my wellbeing. Want to try it for yourself? Grab a notebook, set aside 5-minutes and follow the tips below.
1 – Keep it Short & Simple
Getting started with a gratitude journal doesn’t have to be a big investment of your time. Five minutes a day is all you need. Write the words ‘Today I am grateful for…’ at the top of your page, take a minute or two to think, and then see if you can write down at least 3 things you’re grateful for.
2 - Add in Variety
Some things may come up again and again in your gratitude journal and that’s ok. But if you can, see if you can add in some variety. Some ideas to explore are people, places, possessions, experiences, opportunities, little things and big things.
3 – Get Specific
Rather than just writing a few words, see if you can expand on what it is in particular you're feeling grateful for. For example, ‘my friends’ might become ‘I am grateful for the love and support my friends give me and the fun times we share’. Or, ‘going for a walk in the park’ might become ‘getting to feel the sunshine on my face today while spending time with the kids walking in the park’.
4 – Make it a Habit
There’s nothing wrong with gratitude journaling on the odd occasion, but if you really want to explore the benefits of gratitude, I recommend trying it daily for a few weeks at least. It’s ok if you miss a day here and there, just stick to it as best you can. Once you've tried it for a few weeks, you might decide to keep it as a daily habit, or maybe you want to make it a weekly thing, or just use it whenever you need a wellbeing boost.
5 – Choose a Time that Works for You
Pick a time of day that works best for you. Maybe you like journaling first thing in the morning to shift your mindset for the rest of the day. Or maybe you find it helpful last thing at night. Before bed is a great time to try if racing thoughts keep you up at night. Slowing down and concentrating gratitude can help to calm and quieten anxious thoughts. Sticking to a particular time can also help make journalling part of your routine if you’d like it to become a daily habit.
6 – Share it
If you want to take your gratitude practice a step further, why not share it? Take a look through your journal and pick someone who has come up recently. You could pick up the phone to thank them, write them a letter of gratitude, or even send them quick text if you're short on time. Sharing gratitude feels great and it will also make the other person feel loved and valued.
If you’re giving gratitude journalling a go, I’d love to know how you’re getting on! Share your experience in the comments below.