Although being thankful is commonly associated with the holidays, there are significant health benefits to remaining grateful year-round.
In fact, when you place a priority on the things you’re grateful for in life, your brain actually works better. People who practice gratitude are healthier, more optimistic, make progress towards their goals, have a greater sense of well-being, and are helpful to others.
Starting and maintaining a gratitude journal can benefit you in many ways by:
Stabilizing Emotions: Keeping a positive outlook can help stabilize your mood. It’s difficult to be anxious or depressed while in a state of happiness.
Boosting Self-esteem: Jotting down compliments from family members, friends, co-workers or even complete strangers can improve your self-image and produce feelings of well-being.
Reducing Greed: Materialism has been shown to decrease gratitude and increase the chances of developing a mental disorder. Remaining grateful allows you to place more priority on cultivating relationships than acquiring wealth.
Improving Sleep: Since journaling can promote feelings of calm, it has been used as a sleep aid. Focusing on the positive things in life can create a state of relaxation, which can help you fall asleep and enjoy restful sleep.
Increasing Longevity: Although this sounds way too good to be true, different studies have indicated that gratitude can extend lifespan. Gratitude produces optimism which can lead to longevity.
Strengthening Resilience: People who journal tend to have better coping skills and are more likely to reach out for help during tough times. Accepting assistance allows for quicker recovery from negative circumstances.
Enhancing Memories: Depending on your outlook, your memories can either be positive or negative. Journaling can help you look on the bright side of life, which can create happier memories.
- Before you start writing, be intentional about remaining in a positive frame of mind.
- In a notebook or journal, write down 3 things you are grateful for every day. Do this 30 minutes before going to sleep at night or at a time that works best in your daily routine. The act of writing will help to solidify the feeling of gratitude in your brain and can help you feel happier almost instantly.
- Always record pleasant surprises or memorable experiences in your journal.
- Place an emphasis on people, not things, in your entries.
- If managing a gratitude diary seems like an impractical goal for your busy lifestyle, you can find a solution that works with your schedule, i.e. shortening the length of time you dedicate to each entry or reducing the number of days per week you set aside to write in your journal.
- When you’re having a down day, reading earlier entries in your journal can help lift your spirits. Many people forget to do this, which prevents them from getting the most out of the journaling process.
- Keep your journal on a nightstand so that you remember to write down what you’re grateful for before going to sleep.
Gratitude isn’t something we should only express during the holidays. Keeping a gratitude journal can help to improve your memory, mood, energy and focus so that you can be your best self every day of the year. Record your feelings and memories in a paper journal or online in My Daily Journal on the BrainFitLife homepage.