Have you heard about the buzz surrounding the practice of journaling? Now, we’re not talking about a typical daily diary, the kind my dad has faithfully kept for years (and undoubtedly makes for the easiest Christmas gift each year).
I’m talking about Gratitude or Appreciation Journals—those that capture the small, or large victories and positive experiences the writer encounters on a daily basis.
This type of journaling is believed to uplift mood, enhance positive mental health, bolster memory, contribute to overall well-being, and improve emotional regulation. It allows the writer to reflect on their actions, relationships and communication styles, making them more self aware in the process.
I began keeping an Appreciation Journal about 10 years ago to remind myself of the positive occurrences that happen each day, you always think you’ll remember, but inevitably you forget! Lately, I’ve gotten a bit lazy though and shifted away from writing to quiet contemplation of the positive aspects as I drift off to sleep, Which I repeat first thing in the morning to kickstart my day. After all, who wouldn’t prefer to fall asleep or wake up, dwelling on joyful events rather than the woes and troubles of the world?
While discussing the merits of journaling with a friend who was feeling a bit low, she expressed an interest in giving it a go to boost her mental health, but admitted she had no clue where to begin. She was concerned about doing it “wrong” and dreaded the thought of composing a detailed diatribe of her day—something she neither had the time nor the inclination for. I completely understand. After a long day, who wants to sit down to a 2,000-word essay? Certainly not me, and I like writing!
But there is something really magical about putting pen to paper. In a tech heavy world where we type, or talk into devices, to actually write something down has a power and energy in it. I’ll be honest as I look back at many of my journal entries, I can barely read my own penmanship, that’s because I’ve got so enthusiastic, and rushed! But it doesn’t matter, what matters is that you recall the best parts of your day and prolong the pleasure by capturing them on paper.
Here are a few tips if you’re new to journaling:
- Dedicate a notepad and decent pen to the task, it doesn’t have to be fancy.
- Grammar and spelling don’t matter!
- Write in bullet points keep it concise
- Only focus on the good bits, kindness, laughter, fun, tender moments, things that made you smile. It could be
- something you did for someone else that made you feel happy.
- Pick the same time of day to maintain your journal
- 10 minutes is about a good length of time to write your journal entry
- If you don’t have time to write it, think it before you go to sleep / wake up
- If you miss a day, don’t give up, continue from where you are.
- Some days you’ll have loads to appreciate, other days you might have to dig a little deeper to find something that lifts your spirits. That’s normal, keep going.
- Keep it private, your journal is between you and you only.
OK, that’s inspired me to get out a shiny new journal for 2024 and fill it with loads of the good stuff, will you join me?
I’d like to take this opportunity to wish you a happy, healthy, and enjoyable 2024.
Thank you for supporting my column and if there’s a mental health or wellbeing topic you’d like me to cover you can email me at email@example.com
Shannon Humphrey is a Leeds based First Aid for Mental Health Instructor and Wellbeing advocate working within the business and education sector. Visit www.pathwaysforpositivity.com for more information about her work.
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