I came across gratitude journaling several years ago and admittedly thought it was a bit out there. Then last year I read an article all about it and decided to look into it further and was surprised to fine a wealth of research on it’s benefits. With nothing to lose other than a few minutes of my time each day, I thought I would give it a go. Now I wouldn’t be without it. I have found it amazing how quickly I have changed my outlook when focusing on the positives.
The women I work with generally have a lot on their plates, which can mean stress levels can be high. Too much stress can cause physical, emotional and mental health problems, as well as being instrumental in hormonal imbalances. This can aggravate female health and menopausal symptoms, such as hot flushes, brain fog, fatigue and insomnia. Gratitude journaling can be a really useful tool to help balance stress. I recommend it a lot in my clinic, and the people who have given it a go have found it really beneficial. This months blog will be exploring gratitude journaling, looking at it’s benefits and how to do it. If you want to give it a go, I highly recommend it!
What is gratitude?
Gratitude is an appreciation of something in our life that is valuable and has meaning and by appreciating this it brings about a state of gratefulness and/or thankfulness. Put very simply, gratitude is being aware of the good things in your life.
Why do it?
Gratitude is a great way of focusing on positive things. It provides appreciation of the good things we have in our lives rather than focusing on the negatives. This in itself can reduce stress, anxiety and provide a more positive outlook.
By making a habit of focusing on positive things and being grateful for them it can change our mindset over the long term. Making it a daily practice (it doesn’t take very long!) can change the way we view situations.
What are the benefits?
The practice of gratitude has been shown to reduce stress levels, reduce depressive symptoms, whilst creating greater wellbeing and life satisfaction. When practicing gratitude it has been shown to increase our motivation and reward hormone dopamine and increase the feel good hormone serotonin. If you are a carer there is research to support it can reduce stress and increase coping mechanisms.
Overall research suggests that practicing gratitude can increase life satisfaction and may also reduce anxiety and stress whilst producing a more positive outlook and increased contentment with life.
How do I do it?
The great thing is the practice of gratitude is easy and doesn’t take long and if practiced for long enough soon becomes a way of life.
Before you go to bed briefly think about the day and write 3 positive things that have happened to you on that day. You can buy a special notebook or gratitude journal for this or simply write it on a piece of paper, in a plain notebook or even on post-it notes.
The things you are grateful for could be simple things, like eating a nice meal, an interaction with a friend, family member or colleague, the friendly greeting from your pet when you come in from work or a smile from a stranger. Or you may be thankful for your child giving you a cuddle or them telling you they love you, even though they may have been a nightmare for the rest of the day! There is no right or wrong, just focus on 3 positive things, write them down and feel grateful for them, then follow your usual bedtime routine or go straight to sleep.
Then in the morning on waking before you do anything else, write, say or think 3 things you are grateful for. You may be grateful for having a roof over your head, enough food to eat, a loving family, your pet or even just a thick pair of socks on a cold morning! It really doesn’t matter what you are grateful for, it can be something big, small or something that you may think is really silly, just being grateful is enough.
By doing this every day it will soon become a habit and you will learn to focus on the positives. You may even find that when negative things happen to you, you are able to switch to the practice of gratitude and put a positive spin on them or view them a little differently.
“When you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change.” Wayne Dyer
A little bit extra?
If you are really keen to bring more gratitude into your life then there are other practices you may wish to consider. There are yoga practices dedicated to gratitude. Gratitude meditation can also be a wonderful way to de-stress, this Calm meditation focusing on gratitude, is a lovely start to their 7 days of happiness programme There are also numerous books and some lovely journals dedicated solely to gratitude journaling.
I hope you have found this blog useful and it has convinced you to give gratitude journaling a go. It may seem a bit out there for some, but I would highly recommend you give it a go and feel free to let me know how you get on.
If you are struggling with hormonal imbalances, peri or post menopausal issues or any women’s health issues then please do get in touch to book a free call to have a chat about working together. I am also available for reflexology treatments which can help relax, calm and reduce stress.
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