The Beginner’s Guide to Gratitude Journaling: How to Start a Gratitude Journal and Stick with It

Gratitude journaling has gained immense popularity in recent years, and for a good reason. It’s a simple yet impactful way to transform your mindset, boost your mental health, and improve your overall quality of life. If you’re new to gratitude journaling or have heard about it and are curious to start, this guide is for you. We’ll walk you through what gratitude journaling is, the benefits, how to begin, and tips to make it a lasting habit.

What is Gratitude Journaling?

Simply put, gratitude journaling involves regularly writing down things you are thankful for. It’s an easy practice that encourages you to focus on the positive aspects of your life, no matter how small they might seem. By consistently acknowledging these positives, you can shift your focus away from negativity and cultivate a more optimistic outlook. This can contribute towards overall shifts towards a more positive, growth mindset.

Gratitude journals can take many forms, from traditional notebooks to digital apps. The key is to find something that works for you - something you enjoy, can easily incorporate into your daily life and will use consistently. Whether you prefer to write long, reflective entries or jot down quick bullet points, gratitude journaling can be tailored to fit your lifestyle.

Benefits of Gratitude Journaling

Numerous studies have highlighted the various benefits of keeping a gratitude journal. Here are just some reasons to start:

  1. Improved Mental Health: Regularly noting down things you are grateful for can help reduce stress, anxiety, and depression. It helps you to focus on the positives, leading to improved mood and emotional well-being. One study published in the Journal of Positive Psychology found that participants who wrote about things they were grateful for experienced a significant decrease in depressive symptoms and an increase in overall well-being.
  2. Enhanced Relationships: Expressing gratitude can strengthen your relationships with your partner, family, friends, and colleagues as it encourages a culture of appreciation and mutual respect. Research has shown that expressing gratitude not only strengthens existing relationships but also helps create new ones. Participants who expressed gratitude towards others reported higher levels of social satisfaction and stronger, more supportive connections.
  3. Better Sleep: Reflecting on positive events before bed can lead to better sleep quality and duration. Studies have shown that writing down things you’re grateful for before bed can improve sleep quality and duration. Reflecting on positive experiences and things you’re thankful for can create a calming, positive mindset that’s conducive to restful sleep.
  4. Increased Resilience: Gratitude journaling can help you build resilience by shifting your focus to what’s going well in your life, making it easier to cope with challenges. A study published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology found that grateful people are more resilient in the face of adversity. By focusing on what you’re thankful for, you build a mental buffer against stress and setbacks.
  5. Boosted Overall Happiness: Regularly practicing gratitude can lead to increased levels of happiness and life satisfaction. A study conducted by Dr. Robert Emmons, a leading gratitude researcher, found that people who kept a gratitude journal experienced a 25% increase in happiness. Gratitude journaling helps you appreciate the good things in your life, which can enhance your overall sense of well-being.

What do you write in a Gratitude Journal?

So you see the benefits of gratitude journaling, but what do you write? In a gratitude journal, you write about the positive aspects of your day and the things you're thankful for. This can include simple pleasures, like enjoying a delicious meal or receiving a nice call or message from a friend, as well as significant events, such as achieving a personal goal or celebrating a milestone. Reflecting on positive traits or skills you possess, and how they benefit you and others, is also a great way to foster self-appreciation. You can write about challenges you've overcome and the lessons learned from them, or recall a favourite memory and why it makes you happy. The goal is to focus on the positives in your life, no matter how big or small, and to cultivate a mindset of gratitude and appreciation.

How to Start Gratitude Journaling

Starting a gratitude journal is simple, and it doesn’t require much time. Here’s a step-by-step guide to help you get going:

  1. Choose Your Journal: Select a journal/notebook that you’ll enjoy writing in. It can be a traditional notebook, a fancy journal, or even a digital app (we’re a pen-to-paper-loving brand, so you’ll see more of a focus on paper-based products in the post, but the key is to choose something that works for you). Choose something that you’ll look forward to using every day - the aesthetic appeal of your journal can motivate you to use it regularly. We have a selection here to choose from.
  2. Set a Regular Time: Consistency is crucial in developing any new habit. Choose a specific time of day to write in your gratitude journal. Many people find it helpful to write in the morning to start the day on a positive note or in the evening to reflect on the day’s events. Setting a regular time helps integrate the practice into your daily routine.
  3. Start Small: If you’re new to this, start with listing just one or two things you are grateful for each day. As you get more comfortable, you can expand your list. Starting small makes the practice less daunting and more manageable.
  4. Be Specific: Instead of writing general statements like “I’m grateful for my family,” try to be more specific, such as “I’m grateful for the delicious dinner my partner cooked tonight.” Specificity makes the gratitude more tangible and meaningful.
  5. Reflect on the Why: When you write about something you’re grateful for, take a moment to reflect on why you are grateful for it. This will just deepen the impact of the practice. Understanding the reasons behind your gratitude helps reinforce positive feelings.
  6. Mix It Up: To keep things interesting, vary what you write about. Include different aspects of your life, such as relationships, experiences, achievements, and even challenges that have helped you grow. Variety prevents the practice from becoming monotonous and keeps it far more engaging!

Tips to Make Gratitude Journaling a Daily Habit

Like any new habit, sticking with gratitude journaling can be challenging at first. Here are some tips to help you stay committed:

  1. Set Reminders: Use reminders to help you remember to journal. You can set an alarm on your phone or leave your journal in a place where you’ll see it, like on your bedside table. Visual or auditory cues can prompt you to remember your journaling practice.
  2. Pair with Another Habit: Combine your gratitude journaling with another daily habit, such as drinking your morning coffee or brushing your teeth. This technique, known as habit stacking, can make it easier to integrate the new habit into your routine. Linking the practice with an existing habit makes it more likely to stick.
  3. Keep It Simple: Don’t pressure yourself to write lengthy entries. Even a few sentences each day can be effective. Your goal is consistency, not perfection!
  4. Celebrate Your Progress: Acknowledge your commitment to journaling and celebrate your progress. This positive reinforcement can motivate you to continue. Rewarding yourself for sticking with the practice can boost your motivation.
  5. Find a Gratitude Buddy: Sharing the practice with a friend or family member can provide mutual support and accountability. You can encourage each other and share your experiences, making the practice more enjoyable.

Common Challenges and How to Overcome Them

While gratitude journaling is a straightforward practice, you might encounter some challenges along the way. Here’s how to address them:

  1. Lack of Time: If you find it hard to carve out time, remember that even a few minutes can be beneficial. Prioritise quality over quantity. Short, consistent entries are better than lengthy, sporadic ones.
  2. Difficulty Finding Things to Be Grateful For: On tough days, it might be challenging to find things to be grateful for. In such cases, focus on small, simple things like a warm cup of tea or a kind gesture from someone. Remember, no positive aspect is too small to be appreciated.
  3. Forgetting to Journal: If you frequently forget to journal, try setting more visible reminders or integrating it with another routine task. Consistency is key, so finding ways to remind yourself is crucial.
  4. Feeling Repetitive: If your entries start feeling repetitive, challenge yourself to find new aspects of familiar things to appreciate or explore different areas of your life. Variety can keep the practice fresh and engaging.

Conclusion

Gratitude journaling is a powerful practice that can bring more positivity and resilience into your life. By starting small, being consistent, and embracing the process, you can develop a habit that supports your mental and emotional well-being. If you’re ready to experience the benefits of gratitude journaling, our specially designed gratitude journal at Papers & Gems can provide the perfect starting point with its inspiring prompts and beautiful layout. Start your gratitude journey today and see how a few minutes each day can transform your life.

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A note: 

Our blog posts are not medical advice. Please see a medical professional for any mental or physical health issues if you are in need of additional support.