Gratitude Journaling for Mental Wellness
7 reasons why gratitude journaling may be something you do.
(free 30-day gratitude planner download)
This life can honestly make us feel like we are stuck, stuck in quicksand with no one pulling us out. Self-care is something I want to engage in, but with no time for the gym and limited time for myself, I took up journaling on my phone. I eventually graduated to keeping a short and simple journal. Some nights all I do is write the 3 things that I can think of that day that made me think life wasn’t so bad, or I should say mostly I try (before I go to sleep) to write at least 3 positive things from the day. I have been doing this for months and months now and can honestly say, while at first it was gritted teeth and short terse notes, now I find myself stopping so I can actually focus on sleep. Turns out there is way more to be grateful for than I ever considered.
Gratitude journaling is a practice that involves regularly expressing gratitude and documenting the things you are thankful for in your life. This simple yet powerful activity has been shown to have several positive effects on mental health. Here are seven reasons why gratitude journaling is beneficial:
- Shifts focus to positive aspects: Gratitude journaling redirects your attention from negative thoughts and challenges to the positive aspects of your life. It encourages you to recognize and appreciate the good things, no matter how small they may seem. This shift in focus can help counteract negativity bias and promote a more optimistic outlook.
- Enhances positive emotions: By intentionally reflecting on the things you are grateful for, you stimulate positive emotions such as joy, contentment, and happiness. Regularly experiencing these positive emotions can contribute to overall well-being and a greater sense of life satisfaction.
- Reduces stress and anxiety: Engaging in gratitude journaling can be a form of mindfulness practice. When you focus on the present moment and the positive aspects of your life, it can help alleviate stress and anxiety. Research has shown that gratitude journaling can lead to lower levels of perceived stress and a reduction in symptoms of anxiety.
- Improves resilience: Practicing gratitude can enhance your ability to cope with challenging situations. It fosters a mindset that allows you to find meaning and value even in difficult circumstances. By cultivating gratitude, you build resilience and develop a more positive perspective when facing adversity.
- Promotes better sleep: Many individuals struggle with racing thoughts and worries when trying to sleep. Gratitude journaling before bedtime can help calm the mind and shift focus away from negative rumination. This can contribute to improved sleep quality and a more restful night. It does at least help me stop ruminating on things from my day, which helps clear my mind for sleep.
- Strengthens relationships: Expressing gratitude in a journal can also extend to expressing it toward others. Sharing gratitude with loved ones can enhance relationships and foster a sense of connection and support. This, in turn, can contribute to increased social support and a greater sense of belonging.
- Cultivates self-awareness and mindfulness: Gratitude journaling encourages self-reflection and self-awareness. It prompts you to pay attention to the positive aspects of your life, fostering a greater sense of mindfulness and appreciation for the present moment.
Enjoy our free download below: 30 Days to a New You (or at least a different perspective) Try journaling for the next 30 days and see how it works for you. Don’t forget to subscribe and comment below.
Overall, gratitude journaling is seen as a simple yet powerful tool for improving mental health. By regularly practicing gratitude and acknowledging the good in your life, you can cultivate a more positive mindset, reduce stress, and enhance overall well-being.
Want to read more? Some notable papers on gratitude journaling:
- Emmons, R. A., & McCullough, M. E. (2003). Counting blessings versus burdens: An experimental investigation of gratitude and subjective well-being in daily life. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 84(2), 377-389.
- Seligman, M. E., Steen, T. A., Park, N., & Peterson, C. (2005). Positive psychology progress: Empirical validation of interventions. American Psychologist, 60(5), 410-421.
- Lyubomirsky, S., Dickerhoof, R., Boehm, J. K., & Sheldon, K. M. (2011). Becoming happier takes both a will and a proper way: An experimental longitudinal intervention to boost well-being. Emotion, 11(2), 391-402.
- Kashdan, T. B., Uswatte, G., & Julian, T. (2006). Gratitude and hedonic and eudaimonic well-being in Vietnam war veterans. Behaviour Research and Therapy, 44(2), 177-199.
- Toepfer, S. M., Cichy, K., & Peters, P. (2012). Letters of gratitude: Improving well-being through expressive writing. Journal of Writing Research, 4(3), 277-299. “Abstract This study examined the effects of writing letters of gratitude on three primary qualities of well-being; happiness (positive affect), life-satisfaction (cognitive evaluation), and depression (negative affect). Gratitude was also assessed. Participants included 219 men and women who wrote three letters of gratitude over a 3 week period. A two-way mixed method ANOVA with a between factor (writers vs. non-writers) and within subject factor (time of testing) analysis was conducted. Results indicated that writing letters of gratitude increased participants’ happiness and life satisfaction, while decreasing depressive symptoms. The implications of this approach for intervention are discussed. (PsycInfo Database Record (c) 2023 APA, all rights reserved)”
These studies provide some insights into the effects of gratitude journaling on subjective well-being, happiness, and psychological outcomes.