The dark winter months combined with the stress of the holiday season, can cause many of us to loose sight of some of the good in our lives. We can easily become inundated with stress or fall into a winter depression. Now is a good time to consider creating a practice that will help retrain the way we think and how we interact with the world around us.
How to keep a gratitude journal:
1) Set aside a regular time each day to write in your gratitude journal. (hint: it is kind of nice to make this a morning habit and start your day with gratitude)
2) Ponder something that truly makes you feel grateful– big or small.
3) Hold that grateful thought in your mind and take a deep breath in. Breathing in your thought of gratitude can help solidify it in your body. Once you have breathed in your grateful moment, notice if any of your muscles feel looser, more relaxed, or if you feel any other difference in your body.
4) Write down your the thing/event/memory that you are grateful for with the date in your journal.
5) Repeat the process one to five times.
Three reasons to keep a gratitude journal:
1) Gratitude will often infuse your body with a sense of wellbeing. You may feel warm, lighter, your muscles may relax. Taking the time to write it down and breath it in helps you to retrain your thought process to notice moments of gratitude more frequently. By making a gratitude journal a practice, you practice thinking more positive thoughts and may start to notice critical, worrisome, fearful, judgmental, and self-degrading thoughts become less frequent.
2) Keeping a gratitude journal can indirectly help our community. Our thoughts and emotions are often contagious. When we build the habit of being grateful, that sense of wellbeing tends to radiate from us. Just like a smile to a strange can trigger an equally bright or brighter smile, feeling grateful on a regular basis for both big and small things, can spread the emotion around. This is a direct link to actually doing some good for your community.
3) When you find yourself in a praticularly stressed frame of mind or notice your thoughts repeatedly ruminating on something worrisome or fearful, pause, take a breath and think about three to five things that you are grateful for and watch your pulse slow, muscles relax, and feel more relaxed in your own body.
Keeping a gratitude journal is a practice. Just like any practice, it gets better the more you do it. This practice can change your perception of and interaction with the world around. It is a small step to reducing stress, helping body tension, and to feel more connected with your community.