You’ve probably all heard about the amazing benefits of a gratitude journal. Touted as the perfect method for re-wiring your brain to re-route your life by wellness gurus who just seem to have it all figured out. You’ve likely also seen the invasion of such picturesque journaling content from fashionable influencers all over Instagram. It sure looks like an appealing habit to form, but in reality, your journaling experience is not likely to be all aesthetically-positioned rose petals and intricate latte-art.
Practicing gratitude can be an incredibly rewarding activity. It will help you to develop a healthy perspective on your life, to get to know yourself and to create a sense of calm, focus and clarity as you go about your day. However, it isn’t as easy as it looks in the photographs to actually sit down and put pen to paper regularly when attempting to form this healthy habit. To genuinely benefit from the proper practicing of gratitude, you’ll need to think about what is going to work best for you personally before you begin.
Practical Versus Pretty
Your first task is to pick a gratitude journal. Try not to waste too much time doing this, as the sooner you can begin writing, the better. There are lots of beautiful options available online, some of which are specifically designed to prompt you with questions and quotes. But remember, your journal needs to be practical as well as pretty.
Tailor your journal to your lifestyle and mode of thinking by choosing something easily portable if you are constantly on the run, or something un-lined if you are a doodler as well as a writer. One of the best things about journaling is that it is a free activity that everybody can do, so even if you just dig out an old notebook or perhaps even use the notes section on your phone and laptop, you’ll be winning by just getting started.
Setting The Scene
Secondly, you’ll find that setting a specific time and place for your journaling will greatly help you stick to a regular routine with it. Otherwise, it can easily begin to feel like a chore that you always run out of time for, and you’ll begin to feel guilty about not doing it which defeats the whole purpose of the gratitude journal!
Choosing a time of day that you already know you will usually have to yourself, such as first thing in the morning while you have breakfast, or last thing at night while you wind down is ideal. Keep your journal in the same comfortable writing nook so that you never lose it and you will feel good while you are there. You don’t have to journal every day if you don’t have time to, but think about what you want to achieve when you set yourself a journaling schedule.
Journaling in the morning will fuel you with a positive attitude for the day if you tend to struggle with motivation, whereas journaling in the evening is perfect for easing anxieties about the day’s events, helping to de-stress and drift off to sleep better. Likewise, journaling on a Sunday night will set you up well for the working week and reflecting on your achievements on a Friday will allow to end on a high and feel present enough to enjoy the weekend you deserve.
Finding Your Flow
You will probably find that your first few entries flow as easily as your coffee does in the morning. After all, there are a lot of things to be grateful for in this world. However, don’t be discouraged if you soon begin to run out of ideas and inspiration and find yourself returning to the same old worn-out phrases.
Being truly thankful for what you have does require some effort and imagination sometimes. So be specific when you write and delve deeper into why you are grateful for these things. If you do hit that ‘writer’s block’ don’t fret; there are so many prompts available at a moment’s googling. If you don’t feel up to doing this alone, find a guide online such as Tim Ferris’ widely-followed 5-minute practice. Tim asks you to divide your writing in categories such as relationships, opportunities, something great that happened and something simple that is near you. This kind of structuring makes it so much easier to find inspiration around you.
The main point to take away with you from these tips for gratitude journaling however, is that everybody does it differently. How you journal is personal to you, and doesn’t have to be perfect as long as you try. If you invest a small portion of your time into checking in with your head and your heart as often as your life allows, you’re sure to feel the difference it makes to your days and this will be ample encouragement to help you keep practicing!