Can Gratitude Journals Benefit Your Mental Health?
In the past I have heard many mention the benefits they gained from gratitude journals. I thought it was a nice idea, but I didn't think it was something I really needed to do. I try to think positively most of the time. Sure I have bad days, but I generally look on the bright side.
The fact is though, I have some recurring negative thoughts, very negative thoughts. And while I know there is no cure for the mental illnesses I live with, there are things that can make coping with them easier. I found out last month that gratitude journals are one way of coping.
I saw another health blogger that I follow was going to use Instagram Stories as a living gratitude journal throughout the month of May and I decided I wanted to join in.
Some days it was easier to find something to be grateful for than others. But what I didn't expect, was to find that as the month went on, it became increasingly easier to find something to add.
I found that I was more content, even on the really rough days. I found that I was frequently noticing the numerous things I have to be grateful for.
However the biggest benefit for me personally, came on day 21. A negative situation arose, as they do from time to time. It was the type of situation that would have previously sent me into a downward spiral of negative thinking. I would have blamed myself for things beyond my control. I would have sunk into depression.
Instead, I took a deep breath and I forced myself to mentally review what I had recently added to my gratitude list. More than just picture the words, I relived those moments in my mind.
I replayed the moment when my youngest son came to stand next to me while I was busy making coffee, I felt his little arm slip around my leg and hold on tight to me until I was done.
I saw the smile on my oldest sons face when he came to me while I was laying on the couch, telling me he brought a game to play with me. I heard his sweet voice telling me he wanted to do something to help me feel better.
I could feel the same joy I felt when my husband brought home a beautiful bouquet of purple flowers, wrapped in purple tissue paper and a purple ribbon. All because he knew Fibromyalgia Awareness Day is important to me.
These reminders did not remove the situation. They did not remove all negative thoughts from my head forever. But they did allow me to avoid going to a dark place in that moment. They gave me peace, for that moment. For that reason alone I am very glad that I accepted this challenge.
From here on I want to make a habit of looking everyday for at least one thing I have to be grateful for.
Here's hoping we all are able to find something to be grateful for, even on the hardest of days. If you keep a gratitude list, I would love to hear how it has benefited you. Please share your thoughts with me in the comments!