Shared by Dr. Anthony Vasile
Try a Gratitude Journal for Less Stress
I know life can be stressful. We can get sucked into a routine that can lead us to lose track of time and ourselves. Our mind wonders and before we know it, we are stressed out. We can ponder on certain ideas in our heads that keep circulating through our mind. These self-limiting negative thoughts can be from stress at work, relationships, money, or that driver that cut us off on the way to work. This can lead us to feel angry or depressed which in turn makes us lose sight of the important things in our lives. A very simple and effective way to get over these thoughts is to keep a gratitude journal.
A gratitude journal is something that allows you to write down the events, people, pets or anything else in your life that you are thankful for. It doesn’t take a lot of time but it allows you to reflect on your day and start to focus on the positive things that matter in your life while letting go of the negativity that may creep up on us during the day. I like to write down at least 5 things I am grateful for each night. Sometimes I repeat the same things but that is okay. Don’t think too hard about it, whatever comes to your mind write it down then move on. This can also be done in the morning to start your day out right. Timing isn’t as important as the act of writing your gratitudes and reflecting on them.
There was a research piece done that looked at people keeping a gratitude journal compared to two control groups. Participants in the intervention group were asked to write daily gratitude lists for 14 days, listing moments they had been grateful for during the day. The outcomes analyzed were affect, depression, happiness, and life satisfaction. The study found that people completing a gratitude journal had higher well-being, positive affect, happiness and life satisfaction scores and lower scores for depression than the neutral intervention groups. This was a short-term study so longer studies should be done in the future for a more accurate representation of the data. Nonetheless, with a gratitude journal being simple, cheap, easy and a pleasant intervention to perform, it should be a good tool for every person to try to incorporate into their daily lives.
Give it a try this week. Keep a journal wherever you know you will see it and have the time to write in it. Just list three things you are grateful for, smile, and then get on with the day or enjoy our evening. Let us know how it goes. My guess is, you will feel the positive effects and it will become a habit like it has for me.
Cunha LF, Pellanda LC, Reppold CT. Positive Psychology and Gratitude Interventions: A Randomized Clinical Trial. Front Psychol. 2019;10:584. Published 2019 Mar 21. doi:10.3389/fpsyg.2019.00584