#LOVEISLOUDER ACTION CENTER
JOURNALING & GRATITUDE EXERCISES
Numerous studies have shown journaling can cause a significant improvement in mental and physical health
Journaling and daily gratitude exercises have been shown to help us manage stress, anxiety and other difficult emotions. The practice can also boost our immune systems and improve our physical health. There are many techniques for journaling, but here are a few tips to get you started. You can also check out a video workshop with Courtney Knowles, co-founder of Love is Louder below.
You can capture your thoughts and feelings in many different ways. Some people prefer to do it on their phone or computer, others prefer the old-fashioned method of pen and paper. There has been some research that shows writing in journals by hand increases the impact of the experience and the retention of that experience, but the most important part is choosing a method and format that works best for your routine. Journaling and gratitude exercises are most beneficial when practiced every day (or as frequently as possible).
1. Take a Moment to Reflect. Many people like to journal at the end of the day. This gives us the opportunity to process the events and emotions of the day and to destress before we go to bed. We suggest taking a few minutes to sit with your thoughts and feelings before you start writing anything down. Think about the high and low points of your day and any strong emotions you felt or struggles you faced.
2. Accept and/or Learn from those Feelings. Once you’ve leaned into your thoughts and feelings for the day, try to find some peace with them. This could be by purely accepting the things we can’t change. For example, many people are experiencing anxiety right now due to the COVID-19 crisis. Accepting this might involve simply reminding ourselves that we aren’t the only ones going through this, this time of uncertainty will end, and we have people we can turn to for support or to talk about how we’re feeling. In some cases, there are things we can take with us from the experiences of the day. Maybe you felt a lot of stress and anxiety because your day was overbooked and your to-do list was too long. Instead of beating yourself up over not getting everything done, just take a gentle reminder with you to be more realistic about what can be accomplished in a day. In the video workshop below, we lead through a simple breathing exercise that can help with this process of acceptance.
3. Write it All Down. Now that you’ve processed the events and feelings of the day, capture those in your journal. This helps us dig deeper into our feelings, but also helps us identify patterns that can help us in being proactive about our mental health. For example, maybe journaling will help you realize that you are much more anxious on days you have meetings or conversations with a certain person. Or maybe a certain time of the week or month brings increased feelings of stress. Identifying these patterns can help us make decisions that can support our emotional health. If there are lessons you’ve learned or experiences you want to remember, capture those in your journal as well.
4. End with Gratitude. At the end of your journal entry for the day, make a list of 3 to 5 things you are grateful for. Don’t overthink it – they can be big or small. Even on days when it feels hard to be grateful, try and write down a couple things that you appreciate in your life.
Don’t put too many expectations on yourself when it comes to journaling. Some days you may have the energy and focus to really dig into your journal entires, other days you might only write a few sentences and your gratitude list. That’s OK – especially during tough times (like a global pandemic). The important thing is that you try and maintain a routine of writing something in your journal.
You can find more tips on journaling and gratitude exercises in the workshop video on this page or this article from Thrive Global.
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