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Staying Thankful: A Guide to Gratitude Journaling During Times Of Uncertainty

What Is Gratitude Journaling? 

Gratitude journaling is a form of journaling that involves the conscious self-reflection on things that you are thankful for in your life. These journals are a simple way to de-stress, reflect and find positivity. Writing in gratitude journals allows you to focus on positive aspects during times of negativity to overall improve on your mental wellness. In order gratitude journaling to be effective, it’s important to reflect on a regular basis.

grateful journal
Photo by Gabrielle Henderson from Unsplash

Benefits Of Gratitude Journaling 

The mental and even physical benefits of gratitude journal have been backed by several research studies. These studies have shown that the acts of being thankful and giving thanks help in decreasing stress levels, strengthening social relationships and improving sleep quality. Also, in a study where high school students kept a gratitude journal, researchers reported healthier eating habits and an increased desire to commit acts of generosity towards other individuals. These are just a handful of reasons why gratitude journaling is beneficial and important to incorporate in your daily routine. Whether you hope to become a more reflective person or embark on a journey to improve on your overall wellness, gratitude journaling is a great way to reach your goals. 


/ Unsplash


Customizing Your Gratitude Journal 

There are so many ways to customize your gratitude journal to maximize your experience. If you like to have everything digital, set up an online gratitude journal! This can be done through a Google document or notes app which will easily sync on all your devices and can serve as a one-stop place for all your journal entries. For a more creative and customizable digital journal, check out some gratitude journaling-specific apps such as Grateful, Happier, Delight and Presently. These apps will still allow you to keep everything online but provide you a more aesthetic journal. If you prefer to keep a physical journal, you should invest in a journal that is customizable and suited for your design needs. You’re definitely going to feel more motivated and inspired to write entries with a super cute journal! Consider adding some Polaroid photos, stickers, washi tape and doodles. You can even have a set color palette and add inspirational quotes on the cover page to truly make the journal your own. Whether you choose to go digital or old school, don’t forget to tailor the journal to your needs and personality!

Back-to-school supplies, agenda
Alexa Williams

Making Time To Gratitude Journal

While it may seem intimidating to journal on a daily basis, the best way is to start small. Set small goals for yourself by writing one journal entry per day. Each entry doesn’t have to be long, they can be around 50-100 words, just as a way for you to get your daily thoughts on paper. The most important part about daily journaling is to keep your goals specific and measurable to stay consistent. Set yourself around 30 minutes in your daily schedule to sit down with your journal. This can be either in the morning when you first wake up or at the end of the day right before you sleep, or whatever time works best for you! Either way, it’s important to stay consistent with this in order to make journaling a habit. Once journaling becomes a set part of your daily routine, you can start to get creative and truly enjoy the process. 

weekly planner on a tablet

Prompts & Inspiration 

Now that you have your journal customized and you’ve set a time in your day to write your entry, it’s time to get writing! Your journal entries can be about anything and everything you want! As long as you stay positive and reflective, the possibilities are endless. Here are some ideas to get you started in your journaling journey. Each prompt is relatively open-ended to allow for depth and thoughtfulness in your writing. Aim to write about each prompt for around 15-20 minutes to fully exhaust all your thoughts and ideas. 

  1. What do you want to accomplish tomorrow?

  2. Who is someone that makes you feel safe?

  3. What are three things that you are grateful for today?

  4. Write about a happy memory.

  5. What is something you are looking forward to?

  6. What/who made you laugh or smile today?

  7. Write about your happy place.

  8. What is one good thing that happened today?

  9. Who is someone that inspires you?

  10. What are three things you love about yourself?

  11. What is one generous thing that you did for someone else recently?

  12. What is the best quote or piece of advice that you have ever received?

Person sitting on grass writing in journal
Photo by Stocksnap on Pixabay

Final Tips

Now you’re finally ready to start your writing journey with your gratitude journal! Here are some final tips for success before you begin:

  1. Set your intentions when you write your journals. Always make sure to stay mindful and purposeful in your entries, to reap the benefits of self-reflection.

  2. Don’t be afraid to be vulnerable. While it may be hard to let yourself go with your writing, try your best to get personal and thoughtful with all your entries. 

  3. Details, details, details. Try to fill your writing with as many descriptors and specifics as possible. Truly tailor your journal to your own life and experiences, and fill your entries with all the interesting details of your life! 

  4. Lastly, and arguably most importantly, while you should always focus on the positives (duh, it’s called a gratitude journal for a reason), don’t ignore the bad days. It’s common and perfectly normal to go through hard times, and these testing times are often the most important moments to reflect on. 

Anya is a first-year economics major at UCLA and is a feature-writer for Her Campus. When she's not writing, she loves to scuba dive, go makeup shopping, and indulge in black sesame ice cream. She's obsessed with Disney movies and will 100% cry when watching Finding Nemo.
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