What Is a Gratitude Journal and What Are The Benefits ?

What is a Gratitude Journal?

A gratitude journal is created through the practice or habit of regularly noticing the things you’re grateful for and writing them down.

Gratitude journaling is often encouraged to be done first thing in the morning when our minds are clearer and to help us start the day from a positive, helpful place or at the end of each day to induce contentment and reflection on the day from a place of gratitude rather than regret or I shoulds or shouldn’t have done.

Practising gratitude isn’t just a logical thinking task. It should also be an emotional and physiological experience. Writing your feelings down is key, along with allowing the positive feelings and emotions to be experienced in your body.

Why Do We Need Gratitude in Our Lives?

Are you familiar with the saying, ‘thoughts create energy and ‘Energy flows where attention goes’ by life coach Tony Robbins?  Our thoughts create energy through emotion, which impacts how we feel and then what we do, which ultimately creates the worlds we live in and our life.

Humans were built for survival and therefore, it’s been in our best interests and good for our survival to notice danger and what could go wrong, hence the epidemic of anxiety and worry.

In the modern world that we now live in, this means that we have many more negative thoughts than positive ones.

Therefore it’s essential that we become more aware of the thoughts we have so we can change them.  it’s also important to practice gratitude alongside. When I created ‘The CBT Journal’ (Click for link to Journal)  I was aware I was asking people to focus their minds on difficult experiences and unhelpful patterns of thinking before they learn how to alter their unhelpful thinking patterns. As an antidote to this, I included a gratitude section for people to complete each day. The practice of daily gratitude begins the process of helping people to correct the negative thinking bias that we all have.

There’s a lovely quote by David Rast.

‘It’s not joy that makes us grateful, it’s gratitude that makes us joyful.’

Noticing what we’re grateful for each day allows the feeling of gratitude to land in our bodies, strengthening the positive emotion muscles in our brains. It’s also a form of mindfulness that slows and settles your thoughts, enabling you to access positive emotional states and think more broadly and clearly.

How Can a Daily Gratitude Journal Support My Mental Health?

Have you ever noticed how much your mindset can affect how you think, feel and act?

When your first thought in the morning is a negative one like ‘I’ve not had enough sleep’, it’s easy for things to domino and gets worse throughout the day. Your commute becomes a chore, you have less patience at work, and by the time you get home, you’re feeling pretty low.

When you start the day writing in your gratitude journal, you’re building an abundance mindset. As well as noticing and appreciating what you already have, you’re also likely to attract more abundance into your life.

Gratitude journal also :

  • Lift your mood
  • Reduce anxiety and stress
  • Promote feelings of contentment and satisfaction
  • Help you get through difficult or challenging times
  • Build better relationships and feel more connected to the people around you because you feel grateful for their presence
  • Reduce cortisol levels which will improve physical health and immunity
  • Induce a calm, soothing state
  • Improve sleep and relaxation
  • Make it easier to access positive memories in the future. Instead of skipping past each moment, you’ll learn to stop, appreciate, and feel grateful, making you feel more fulfilled, sustained, and emotionally resilient.

If I’ve not convinced you yet to start a gratitude journal Oprah will – Oprah Talks Gratitude – 2 min video

The quote below illustrates there’s always something to be grateful for.

‘If you are reading this article, that means you have access to either a computer, a laptop or a smart phone. You have electricity. You have a connection to the Internet. If you know where your next meal is coming from and you don’t have to worry about getting clean water, having shelter over your head and accessing medical care, you benefit from more wealth than many people throughout human history.’ – Jesse Carey, ‘8 Stats that Will Change the Way You Think About Wealth’.

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Sarah Rees

Sarah is a fully accredited Cognitive Behavioural Therapist and mental health writer delivering Modern Mental Health for you and with you in Mind. Sarah is the author of ‘The CBT Journal’ which helps you write for your wellbeing incorporating CBT techniques. For more information and to keep in touch have a look at sarahdrees.co.uk.