Several years ago, my husband recommended I start a gratitude journal to help with my mental health. The general idea is that every day you list three things that you are grateful for. You can do bullet points or journal several whole paragraphs; these specific things that you are grateful for can be anything from daily events in your life or as simple as “running water.”
I resisted this idea because I thought that forced gratitude would have the opposite effect, making me resentful and inclined to wallow in any misfortunes. But I decided to give it a shot when my therapist recommended it, and I found that it hasn’t turned out that way. In fact, it has been great for my mental health during the COVID pandemic.
I’ve been doing my daily gratitude journal for over 150 days now. I’m using a great app called Presently; it’s really nothing fancy, just a space to freely write every day.
Mostly, I use it to document things that made me smile that day. Things like:
–Epik High’s awesome playlists
–Star Wars Zoom backgrounds
–Taking photos of flowers in the rain
–“COVID AND CHILL” written in railroad ties by the train tracks
–“Waterlemon” [which is what my kid calls watermelon]
–Being productive at work
–Purring kitty on my lap
It turns out that what really helped my mood wasn’t the act of thinking and writing positive things, but rather seeing what I’d written on previous days and re-reading over my list of happy things. Even looking through it now as I’m writing this, I’m smiling at seeing the funny things my kid said or the delicious foods I ate.
I admit: there was one day where I just wrote “Blahhhhhhhhhh not feeling grateful.” I don’t want to use this journal to enforce a mentality of toxic positivity where I always have to look on the bright side of things. My sadness, anger, anxiety and frustration shouldn’t just be dismissed. It’s still important to acknowledge our negative feelings so we can deal with them.
My gratitude journal helps me stay in the present and focus on the things that are important. Thanksgiving in particular is a time to reflect on what we are grateful for. We may be celebrating small this year, but we are still celebrating!
Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours!