We’ve all heard the claims that practicing gratitude daily improves overall health and wellness (lowers your stress levels, helps with anxiety and depression, improves sleep, makes you happier, etc), but I have to admit, I was somewhat skeptical. At some point, I figured I’d give gratitude journaling a try to see what all the hype was about. Wanting to do it “right”, I ordered the “perfect” gratitude journal and did it for about a week. It was too structured for me and it just didn’t stick.
In October 2018, I committed to gratitude journaling daily again, this time with a plain ol’ notebook I picked up at the dollar store. Every morning while I drank my coffee, I wrote 10 things for which I was grateful. At first, because I’m someone who tends to overthink things a bit (holy understatement!), coming up with 10 things that were amazing enough to be grateful for was a bit of a struggle.
But here’s the thing I realized…
…being grateful isn’t about the amazing things, it’s about being able to find “amazing” in the simple things.
I’ve continued the practice every morning since then. My delicious coffee, a beautiful sunny day, that I was able to watch the sunset…I just pick out simple little (but wonderful) things. It recently dawned on me what gratitude journaling was doing for me. I recognized a feeling of contentment and much less anxiety, in general. The feeling that it’s my responsibility to fix and control everything is much less ever-present…so much better than it’s ever been. Gratitude journaling has become as much a part of my morning routine as having my coffee and I actually don’t feel right when I don’t get it done. The changes happened subtly, but they were significant enough for even my husband and kids have noticed them. There’s no question my daily gratitude practice is increasing my happiness and lowering my stress and anxiety levels. And really, that’s all the reason I need to keep doing it. Besides the obvious that being happier is awesome, less stress means less inflammation in the body. This is critical because chronic stress and inflammation lead to illness!
And then there’s the actual science behind it. I totally geeked out when I found this particular article – it explains the science behind how and why gratitude journaling works. Did you know that it can increase happiness by 10%…that’s equivalent to as much additional happiness as you’d experience from doubling your income?? Only it’s a lot faster and easier!
I’m amazed that something as simple as regularly writing down the little things you’re grateful for can have such an effect on one’s mental and physical wellness. Starting a gratitude journal is a recommendation I include in all of the individual programs I do for my clients…it doesn’t matter what you have going on, practicing gratitude on the reg will make you feel better. I seriously can’t stay it enough – anything we can do that helps to lower stress and anxiety, even by just a little bit, should be something we do on a regular basis.
It really can’t get much easier than this!
If you have a daily gratitude practice, I hope you’re realizing as many benefits from it as I am. There is so much awesomeness in the little things. If it’s not part of your daily routine, I highly recommend you grab a notebook and a pen with your morning coffee and give it a try…I’m certain you’ll be grateful you did!