Mental Health Benefits of Gratitude Journals
Pain is an emotion everyone experiences in their life and it really can’t be avoided. Perhaps it is the stress from a divorce, anxiety from a move, or grieving the loss of a loved one. While pain is unavoidable, suffering is not. Many people suffer simply because they are not able to accept their current reality. With acceptance, we can honor our difficult feelings and shift to acknowledge what else our present life holds. It’s not minimizing the bad, but instead expanding to what is also going well. Both are always existing. Gratitude is a great tool for this.
Gratitude, or a feeling of thankfulness, is a powerful alchemist. It can instantly and dramatically change your mood. When you are feeling grateful, it is hard to feel anything else. And while you can easily think about all of the things you are thankful for, it is a better idea to write them down in a journal. The act of writing them down, reinforces the thoughts and makes them more concrete. It also can serve as a routine to integrate into your day as a way to prime your brain.
Here are some of the mental health benefits of keeping a gratitude journal:
It Helps Us Feel Valued
When we recognize how many blessings we have been given, it is natural for the perception of our own value and worth to increase. This boost in value and self-esteem has been shown to decrease feelings of anxiety, depression and stress.
It Minimizes Negative Behaviors
As I mentioned, when we are focused on the positive, it is almost impossible for us to think about the negative aspects of our lives. This focus on positivity translates into better choices and behavior. We become kinder as well as more empathic and generous. These new ways of feeling and being continually perpetuate goodness coming into our life. And the new cycle continues.
It Helps Motivate Us
When we allow ourselves to feel grateful, we begin to feel more and more inspired. This newfound inspiration ignites our inner passion and motivates us to become our best selves. This is the result of priming your brain to be more attuned to what is going well in your life. This helps us to not get stuck in the pain – it helps us to move away from suffering and to embrace life more fully.
If you need some help getting started on your gratitude journey, talk to your therapist! It’s a great tool to integrate into therapy and your healing journey. Feel free to reach out to Empowerment Center to discuss more how gratitude journals, and counseling in general, may be able to help you with the mental health challenges you are facing.