How to Start a Gratitude Journal (A Beginner's Guide)

    January 09 2021

    How to Start a Gratitude Journal (A Beginner's Guide)

    January 09 2021  |  Inspiration , Wellness

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    Now is the time of year when we typically restart our engines and shift into New Year mode. But as you can imagine, this year may look a little different than what we’re used to. 

    2020 was a tumultuous year. It not only changed our perspective on many things, but chances are it’s made you feel a little less grateful and a lot more stressed, burnt-out, and disconnected. 

    As a licensed therapist and a human who has felt the weight of 2020’s mess, I can confidently say that this year we should practice gratitude to counteract these symptoms. Luckily, gratitude practice is as easy as pie. 

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    The Science Behind Gratitude Journaling

    Gratitude journaling is incredible because it’s a healthy way to navigate what’s going on inside you. It’s something I prescribe to my clients and even went as far as to create an entire app dedicated to building this healthy habit. 

    The practice of gratitude journaling literally changes the brain. Thanks to neuroplasticity, you can actively take part in shaping your neural pathways. Gratitude practice helps serve this purpose because it activates the part of the brain responsible for regulating emotions, positively impacting your ability to handle negative emotions. It triggers your brain to reduce the stress hormone, cortisol, and activates the reward center of our brain which makes us feel happier and more content. 

    The more you make a habit of gratitude practice, the stronger these neural pathways form. The end result you will experience is increased resiliency in tough circumstances. More joy, more compassion, reduced stress, and a deeper relationship with yourself and others.

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    How to Identify Gratitude Journaling Prompts

    With these results, you can understand why practicing gratitude can come in so handy in 2021. It may not feel like you have a whole lot to be grateful for right now. I get it! And my goal isn’t to force positivity here. 

    But here’s the thing: gratitude does not have to start big. In fact, focusing on small forms of gratitude can train your brain just as much! Did you have a nice cup of coffee this morning? A warm shower? Was the line at Trader Joe’s shorter than expected? Start there!

    Look for prompts to help you explore gratitude journaling. They could be anything that makes you happy! Spending time with your family and friends, experiencing breakthroughs in your career, or any feelings of happiness and joy. Use those prompts to open yourself up to gratitude practice. Here are a few simple and effective prompts that can help get you started:

    • something you have today that you didn’t have a year ago
    • a book that helped you grow
    • a great phone call with a friend
    • a song that puts you in a great mood
    • an article of clothing that makes you feel confident
    • a valuable skill that you possess
    • a place you’ve visited
    • a positive experience from the past week

    How to Start a Gratitude Journal

    The simplest and most accessible type of gratitude practice is gratitude journaling. Gratitude journaling is simply the act of writing down people, places or things that you appreciate. You can do this in list form, write out a story, or even write in the form of a thank you letter to someone or thing. It is helpful to identify why you are thankful for whatever you are writing down in order to deepen the experience of positive emotions. Here are a couple of examples:

    • I could write that I am grateful for my dog because he provides me with unconditional love, warm cuddles, and a sense of responsibility.
    • I could write a story about my dog recalling a special and specific time of gratitude.
    • I could even write a thank you letter to my dog! And while he may not be able to read it, my brain will reap the benefits, and he will most likely get an extra chewy treat! Win-win!

    As a therapist and the co-founder of an app that trains your brain to build healthy habits, it’s important to me to be an accessible resource for others. I started showing up and creating space on social media in order to reach a larger audience. My goal is to provide psycho-education, tools, and tips to those looking to improve their mental wellbeing. 

    Gratitude Practice on Social Media

    I started using PLANOLY’s linkit tool because it allows me to link timely resources to specific posts that are always available at my link in bio. So whether someone is visiting my page the day I posted, or weeks later, they can have access to it! 

    I’ve also begun to utilize TikTok as a gratitude practice. Building an online community on social media is a great way to spread positivity and inform my followers about gratitude journaling and other gratitude practices that will help us navigate 2021 with better mental health.

    Gratitude practice doesn’t simply expand my business online, it helps me serve my greater purpose – helping others find joy, cope with difficulties, and become the person they are truly meant to be.

     

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    Learn more about Katie Miles, on PLANOLY

    Katie Miles

    Katie Miles is a licensed therapist and has found popularity on Instagram and TikTok for her quick videos on gratitude and wellness.

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