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Gratitude Journals: A Review

It was suggested to me to start a gratitude journal to help with my mental health quite a while ago. I had shrugged it off, not honestly thinking about doing much journaling as it had been a negative experience for me in the past.

But as time went on, the more I wanted to try.

I was in a place where I was willing to try anything just to feel better. I was feeling so alone and isolated, and I was often having negative thoughts over anything else. It was a terrible feeling, and full of lots of crying and laying in bed struggling to get up.

However, writing down what I was grateful for each day seemed like an impossible task, even when I was willing to try just about anything to feel a little better.

So I looked for something that was more accessible to help me get into the habit.

I found the journal Finding Gratitude at Barnes and Noble, and thumbing through the pages, I thought I could do it. It wasn't overtly religious in its tone, and the prompts didn't come across as BE GRATEFUL OR ELSE like other journals had. So I picked it up and started using it.

Every morning, while I was sorting out my daily goals and tasks, I put down writing in the journal as a task to complete. Then I would find a page with a prompt that I felt I could answer with honesty. It was a double brain-pleaser: tick of a task and write about something I was grateful for.

Eventually, I finished the whole journal, and felt ready to move onto my own journaling journey. I picked up a bullet journal from Half Price books, and started doing daily affirmations and grateful entries. Once I got into the habit more and more, I started buying washi tape, stickers, and more colorful pens, making it an art task I did every day.

I bought myself nice bullet journals from Notebook Therapy, and have kept more or less writing down once a day something I am grateful for since.

Recently, I fell out of the habit, and so I picked up another prompt gratitude journal to help me get back on track. I have enjoyed it so far; it's The Resilience Journal.

I have the gratitude journals where you are supposed to fill it out twice a day, but I haven't found those as helpful, as I don't do nighttime journaling very well. I think maybe I'm just a brain that gets going and when it's time to wind down, I just don't want to write. But maybe one day, those will also be ones I reach for. We'll just have to see where life takes me.

Journaling what I was grateful for has greatly helped my mental health. I know that the habit helps regulate me, and helps me feel more connected to the positive in my life.

One thing I learned is that I don't have to be grateful for a big and/or complex thing. I can be grateful for a can of beans that lets me make a batch of chili that makes me feel better, or for the blossoms on the tree for being pretty and nice to look at for a moment. It doesn't have to be a huge part of my day or life, and it doesn't have to have a grander purpose in my life.

If you've been thinking about getting into gratitude journaling, I recommend it. It did wonders for me, and helped bounce me into journaling goals for my future. It has built a habit and overall skill that I have found supports my well-being in all aspects.

It led me to feeling comfortable with writing down pros and cons, as well as reframing exercises when things get to be a lot to handle, or seem daunting.

Do you journal, or are you interested? Do you have any journal recommendations?

Love Always, Laura Ann


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