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Mental Health

How to Start Your Very Own Gratitude Journal this Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving, a time spent with close family and friends alongside wonderful food. It is also truly a great time for us to sit back and reflect on everything we are fortunate to have. Expressing gratitude, or thankfulness, can help us lead happier and more content lives.

All it really takes is a few minutes of your day to write your thoughts down. An amazing way to do this is to begin a gratitude journal, a place to channel your inner thoughts, specifically all the big or small things you are grateful for in your life.

Everyone’s journal will ultimately be different because each one of us has a unique perspective and will choose to focus on different components in our journals, but here are some common ground steps to get started!

  1. Pick a journal

The first step is to choose a journal dedicated to gratitude. This journal can be a physical book or a digital notebook on your device. You can find physical journals at Target or Amazon, and there are many apps available for journaling on the App Store for mobile, tablet or laptop devices. Some questions to consider when selecting your journal are:

  • Would you like to keep it in one place or have it around with you all the time?
  • Do you want lined, dotted or unlined pages?
  • Do you already have a planner? Consider pairing your gratitude journal with a planner by incorporating a section in your planner for gratitude. But, if you prefer a separate place for gratitude, that works too!

2. Understand the reason you are journaling

It is super important to think about why you are starting something before you jump into it. Several benefits of gratitude journaling include lower stress levels and newfound clarity. You can also improve your physical heath, sleep and relationships. This journal is an opportunity to learn more about yourself and take on a new perspective of your blessings. Putting time and energy into this journal allows you to truly feel happier. 

3. Choose a time to write

Setting aside time to write in your gratitude journal can feel overwhelming at first in the midst of hectic schedules. However, once you incorporate it into your routine, it becomes much easier to build this habit. Try writing down a few things while having coffee in the morning or before going to sleep at night. It only takes five minutes! Consistency is key in order to see the benefits. 

4. How to start writing

If you are stuck on where to start, answering gratitude journal prompts may be helpful. Here are some prompts: 

  • What’s something that you’re looking forward to?
  • What’s a simple pleasure that you’re grateful for?
  • What’s something that you’re grateful to have today that you didn’t have a year ago?
  • Write about a happy memory.
  • What’s something about your body or health that you’re grateful for?
  • Open the door or window and look outside. What’s something you’re grateful for outside?
  • What’s an accomplishment you’re proud of?
  • What have you been given that you’re grateful for?
  • What’s something or someone that makes you feel safe?
  • What do you like about your job?
  • How are you able to help others?
  • Write about a friend that you’re grateful for.
  • Write about a teacher or mentor that you’re grateful for.
  • Write about a family member that you’re grateful for.
  • What did you accomplish today?
  • What’s one of your personality traits that you’re grateful for?
  • What mistake or failure are you grateful for?
  • What skill(s) do you have that you’re grateful for?
  • What’s something that you made recently that you’re grateful for?

5. Continue writing

As you continue to write in your gratitude journal, try writing from new angles or search for more prompts to have fresh ideas and try something different.

6. Figure out what works best for you

When it comes to gratitude journaling, there are no set rules. Do whatever makes you feel the best and works for you. This journal is for YOU, so feel free to express yourself the way you like most. 

7. Check in with yourself

After a week or month has passed, ask yourself if you feel a difference. Happiness is something that could take some time, but make some time to reflect on positive changes.  Look back at previous pages to see how far you have come, and be proud that you have made progress! 

Hope you have now been inspired to start your own gratitude journal! It only takes a few minutes to start, and a few minutes to do everyday. Remember to put your mental health first.

Manal is a first-year student at UCLA! She is majoring in psychobiology on the pre-medical track. When she's not writing articles, she enjoys coffee runs, shopping, and traveling.
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