I used to own a rant journal. Everything went in there, whether it was a fall out with friends, a grievance with a stranger or an annoyance with myself: it all got written down and left out in the open, within the pages. While I think doing this had therapeutic elements to it and I definitely got something out of it, only focusing on the negatives left my journaling sessions feeling incomplete.
That is when I decided to attempt gratitude journaling alongside documenting the negative impacts in the hope that it would help bring closure to the frustrations of daily life I was writing about. There are a million and one ways in which to structure gratitude journaling: one word a day, a few sentences a week, or a paragraph a month could be sufficient. The point is to practise gratitude on a fairly regular basis to remind yourself of the good in the world, and that there is always something to be grateful for no matter how pitiful life feels.
It is also important to note that you can reflect on what you are grateful for using many different mediums. The most common is pen and paper, but you could use the notes app on your phone, or Microsoft word -I’ve even heard of groups of friends getting together (virtually thanks to COVID-19) to discuss openly about what they are grateful for.
But why start writing out why you are grateful in the first place? Especially if you haven’t been used to journaling, ranting or otherwise. There a number of reasons, but here are a few that I find particularly convincing.
1. It helps you find the good in everyday, no matter how low you might get.
2. Increases your chance of a sustained positive mood creating a routine focused on positivity and gratitude.
3. It can build your resilience against the inevitable setbacks in life, as it reminds you to be aware of the good from within said issues or inconveniences.
4. When practising gratitude on a regular basis, you are less likely to experience burnout as you are taking intention, reflective breaks from responsibilities of everyday life.
It’s important to remember that doing this type of journaling might not come naturally to you, it may seem pointless and cheesy, but I would argue that if you stick with it you may see some of these positives come into fruition. This leads me to another point; gratitude journaling is not a cure for mental health issues. While it may boost your mood, and alleviate some symptoms of certain mental illnesses, it is obviously not a medically sound practise. Therefore, while I would urge everyone to try gratitude journaling, I want to suggest that those struggling with their mental health also reach out to friends, family and medical professionals.
Use this template for a weekly gratitude journal below to start your gratitude journey.