Journaling is one of the most versatile and beneficial ways you can engage your mind and body in support of your mental wellness. When introducing the practices of mindfulness and gratitude, it can be an excellent tool to make those things into an active process.
Don’t know where to start? Learning how to start a gratitude journal begins here, whether you’re already practicing journaling in your recovery or this is your first foray. If you’re ready to manifest magic with your gratitude, we want to give you the getting started tips that will make your hope into a habit to carry you to new heights.
When both journaling and gratitude are new to you, start both with a micro step. So micro, in fact, that it doesn’t require any tools or forethought. It requires nothing but you, your heart and the life you’re already living. Begin (or end) each day with a single thought:
I am grateful for…
Finish that sentence any way you wish. It doesn’t have to be a big gratitude. Sometimes, isolating and lifting up the little things can be more helpful in recognizing the miniscule permanence of your ability no matter how much you’ve struggled.
So what are you grateful for? Right here, right now. Just think it.
Look at that, first step done and you’re doing great already.
Make some choices
There are a few key choices to make in navigating the infinite world of journaling, and they’re each a part of the art of tailoring your relationship with your words and yourself.
1. What medium do you want to use?
You have lots of options for the space and format in which you want to keep your journal and there is no wrong way.
If you’re thinking digital, this can take many forms. Whether you choose to use the notes app on your phone, a multi-access platform like Google Docs or an app designed for journaling, your phone is always in the palm of your hand and ready for your use. This is a great option for brief, consistent forms of journaling where you may want to note each small gratitude in the moment.
Analog options are also plentiful. Choose a notebook you love- maybe it’s the size, the design, the sentiment or even the feel of the paper. Involve the choice as part of the journaling experience and make that very act one that solidifies your gratitude. Use a pen or pencil you love, or even make it an artful experience. There is no wrong way to write down your thankful thoughts.
2. How often do you want to do this?
Will you journal daily? Multiple times a day? Maybe you decide you’d like to do Thankful Thursday or some other alliterative or less constant format for this practice. Does the morning feel best, or maybe just before bed? Perhaps you’d like to spend a little time in the middle of the day checking in with yourself and the life you’ve created.
The frequency isn’t what’s important- setting yourself up for success by journaling on a schedule that suits your life is the real key in finding time to journal.
3. Is there a length or format you’d liked to abide by?
For some, keeping the grateful notes brief is the key to being able to create a routine around journaling. For others, a stream of consciousness time limit works more effectively. You may choose to write a certain line, word or page count or focus on getting a number of thoughts- maybe you want a list of grateful things. Beyond that, you can time yourself, or structure your journaling into other formats or forms that feel best for you. Just as the timing, there is no wrong length or form in which to be grateful.
4. Where will you keep your journal?
If you’re using an app or a phone-based journal tool, this one’s easy. But analog journaling can take a bit more thought. Consider putting your journal somewhere that’s easily accessible at the time you’ve decided to set aside for journaling. Perhaps that’s by your bed, in your bag or at your workstation. Ensuring you have easy access when you need it but can create the privacy you’d desire to write authentically is important.
Once you’ve decided what’s important to you about your gratitude journal and gotten yourself set up, be consistent with the terms you’ve set for how you want to proceed. Try to stick to the time table, the schedule or the frequency you outlined as being important to your process so that you set yourself up for success and can adequately block out time to make space for your gratitude process. Consistency is a hallmark of success and repeating the action of documenting your thanks will help to create a Law of Attraction style success in manifesting more to be grateful for.
While consistency is important, don’t forget to be compassionate with yourself. Being gentle and flexible with your needs and boundaries is valuable as well, and sometimes those things need your attention more than consistency. Offer yourself the kindness and flexibility of knowing when you need to change things up. Notice if something isn’t working for you, and don’t be afraid to offer those things gratitude and move on to something new. In your journal and your life, self-compassion and gratitude will always lead you toward success.