Positive psychology associates gratitude with greater happiness as it induces people with a sense of added positive emotions. It helps them relish good experiences, improve their health, deal with adversity, and build strong relationships.
Speaking to Teen Vogue, Rachel O’Neill, who is a Ph.D., LPCC-S, therapist, and director of clinical effectiveness at Talkspace, said “During this time when many people are socially isolating, it can be easy to focus on the negative aspects of our day," she said. "Instead, being intentional about focusing on gratitude can be an incredible way to shift your attention to the areas in your life that bring you joy and happiness."
Thus, the first and easiest way to start a gratitude journal to keep your mental health in check and find a way to emote is by just going ahead and picking a journal. You could either traditionally pen down your thoughts or choose a digital space. Further, for dedicated journal writing, try sticking to a time or a schedule based on your feasibility. This is not in the intention to make your journal writing stressful, but just to ensure that you don't lose out on consistency. If you are confused about what to start with, look up on the internet and find your own personalized prompts.
Here are some tips you can follow to make your journaling experience enriching and beneficial for your mental health
Write At The Time Most Suitable For You
“Gratitude helps to lift our spirit,” says behavioral health therapist Jane Pernotto Ehrman. “Our spirit includes our sense of connectedness and we feel more connected when we are grateful for something.”
Hence, finding a time that suits you the best is the ideal way to kick start your journal writing. Evidence suggests that penning down in your gratitude journal before bed can induce better sleep at night. This is because often we sleep worrying about the anxious situations for the next day, or thinking about how things went down in the present day. Thus, writing down a note of gratitude can make a shift and help you sleep on a positive note. However, you can also stick to writing down things in your journal as the first activity in the morning to make a refreshing start to the day, or fill in your journal with the things you are thankful about during lunch, or while unwinding your day with an evening snack.
Keep Your Journal Simple To Start With
To begin with, keep small and simple goals to start writing in your journal. For example, you can probably keep a goal of writing five things in each entry of your gratitude journal. If you are struggling to even write five, it is absolutely okay, and you can reduce the number according to your comfort and increase it as and when your perspective changes and you start to feel more grateful for different things.
There is no need to overcomplicate the process and you start off with dedicating a few minutes every day. If you find it difficult, to make it an everyday activity you can stick to write every other day or three times a week.
Try Focusing On Good Things Throughout The Day
It might be a difficult task to look for good things when you are clouded with negative vibes and an anxious state. However, the purpose of this journal is to try shifting your perspective to appreciate smaller things. It helps you to understand the goodness present around you and make you feel better and provide a little ray of hope after you express it out.
You can write about something as basic as how you felt good when someone held the door for you and did not slam it on your face. You can talk about the sense of validation you felt when someone complimented you, or you felt good about complimenting someone else.
Some days might feel extremely exhausting to even think of one good thing that occurred, and that is also completely justified. The aim of the gratitude journal is not to be a pressurizing activity but only to help you focus in a positive direction, and any effort towards it is valid.
More The Details In Your Journal, The Better
Several individuals prefer to keep contents in their gratitude journals short and crisp. However, it has been observed that the more the number of intricate details you write about, the more you regain it and carry it around with you. Details are powerful because our mind can’t tell the difference between real time and imaginary time, says Ehrman.
You can write in detail about how you enjoyed your morning jog, the places you ran through, and who all did you stumble across. The more you explain your experience, the more you relive your positive experience.