Gratitude journal benefits

Here’s why you should keep a gratitude journal

I’ve kept a gratitude journal on and off over the past years, and I always feel a sense of wellbeing when I make it a regular habit. Keeping a gratitude journal is a simple practice that can help you cultivate joy and boost your mood. In fact, the benefits of gratitude journaling are supported by a wealth of research.

Here’s what you can expect to happen if you make it a habit to regularly write down a list of gratitudes.

Saying thank you makes you more optimistic  

Gratitude journaling puts your focus on positive memories and events. This means you’re actively recognising the good in life, and shifting your focus from mulling over negative moments.

Practising gratitude can help train your brain to have a more positive outlook, which helps build your resilience – that is, your capacity to manage life’s ups and downs. I find, when I practice gratitude regularly, I start to recognise small joys as they happen. The warm water of the shower on my skin, the smell of my morning coffee, my son leaning into me as I read a Roald Dahl book to him, and a dozen other small moments over my day.

Keeping a gratitude journal can reduce stress and anxiety

As I wrote the sentence above, listing some examples of small joys, I felt my shoulders relax and my breathing slow down. It’s incredible how your thinking – something we can largely control – can influence the chemicals in your brain, which in turn impact your body.

Research shows that focusing on gratitude can shift your worries and anxieties. This can lower your stress levels and help you feel calm. Thank you, researchers, for finding this out for us.

Practising gratitude can improve your sleep

Tossing and turning at night? A gratitude journal may help you catch those elusive Zs.

My mum practises gratitude when she has trouble falling asleep. She doesn’t write down her gratitudes, but lies in bed listing them. She starts in the morning. Thank you for my soft bed and warm blanket. Thank you for the shelter over my head. Thank you for living in a safe country. She says she usually falls asleep before she has reached mid-morning.

Studies have shown that expressing gratitude before bedtime can lead to better sleep quality and duration. So, instead of counting sheep, count your blessings!

Saying thank you could improve your self-esteem

Our world often measures success by external achievements. This can make you get down about your own position in life. Your house is not big enough. Your car is old. Your job title doesn’t impress people at parties.  

But a gratitude journal reminds us that we have enough and we are enough.

By acknowledging our strengths, accomplishments, and the love that surrounds us, we can boost our self-esteem and cultivate a deep sense of self-love. Who cares what other people think about your life? And the reality is, they’re probably not thinking about you!

Gratitude helps build strong relationships

Researchers at the University of Tasmania say that saying thank you has mutual benefits for both the thanker and the thankee. (Did I just make up a word?!)  ‘Both experience the relationship is strengthened,’ they write.

Think about who you can thank today. It will give you both a small serotonin boost, and bring you closer together.

Practising gratitude can help you grow

I find keeping a gratitude journal is really about taking the time to consider the things that bring me joy. This helps me grow by encouraging me to reflect on my day, and indeed my life, and recognise what’s important to me. It reminds me of what matters, what makes me feel good, and the many privileges I have in my life.  

So, what are you waiting for?

Grab a journal, make yourself a cup of tea, and embark on a journey of gratitude that could help transform your life.

You might also like to read these gratitude quotes from researchers.

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