I like to recommend that my clients keep a gratitude journal. A gratitude journal is a Positive Psychology tool that helps individuals to focus more on what is going well in their lives. This is different from many therapeutic techniques that focus on problems (although this is often necessary). Our thoughts and perceptions of ourselves, our lives, other people, and the world can vary along a continuum from everything is wonderful to everything is absolutely horrible. If one is depressed, everything seems horrible, doesn’t it? But if we take a closer look, we can often find positives in our lives that we took for granted because we were seeing everything though a negative ‘mental filter’. A gratitude journal can help bring the positives in our lives back into focus, so that we can see things from a more balanced perspective. When you realize that everything in your life is not horrible, this can really improve your mood!
How to Use a Gratitude Journal:
1) Find a notebook to use as a journal. Or download one of the many gratitude journal apps that are available. I like the Simple Gratitude Journal and Gratitude Garden.
2) Each day, write down at least 3 things that you were grateful for that day, in point form, or short sentences (this is much faster and briefer than a traditional journal). Sometimes it’s hard to identify an event on a particular day, so I like to broaden the choices. If you have having difficulty, try one of the following alternatives:
3) If you are feeling down one day, take out your journal and read it to help remember all the good things and cheer yourself up. Or add as many items to your journal as you can and see how fast your mood improves!
Here are some further readings about gratitude journals:
How to Create a Powerful Gratitude Journal (and stick with it)
The Benefits of a Gratitude Journal and How to Maintain One
How to Start a Gratitude Journal Wiki
Dr. Candice Bovell, Ph.D., C.Psych. is a Clinical Psychologist who treats adults with depression, anxiety, and stress online in Ontario, Canada.
Candice Bovell, Ph.D., C.Psych.
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