Last year was the year of change. Today, many of us are still working or learning from home, businesses remain closed, and the weather has been downright dreary. Almost a year later and we are still adjusting to all of the changes the pandemic brought us. With everything going on, it can be difficult to stay positive.

Practicing gratitude can improve many aspects of your life, such as helping to build stronger relationships or increase optimism. While everyone practices gratitude differently, one common and effective method is the idea of gratitude journaling.  

Gratitude journaling is exactly what is sounds like, which is the process of writing down in a journal or notebook everything you are grateful for. While there is no “right” way to do so, studies have shown that writing in a gratitude journal at least 3 times a week has a greater impact on our overall happiness than writing daily.

So, say you are interested in starting a gratitude journal, but you don’t know where to begin? Here are three helpful tips on mindful journaling:

1.) Be specific. Try to avoid vague statements, such as “I’m grateful for my family.” Instead, try something like “I’m grateful for my mom because she cooked me dinner last night.” Try being specific in why you are grateful, as well as who you are grateful to.

2.) Don’t Just “Go Through the Motions”. It’s been shown that journaling is more effective if you make the conscious choice to be more grateful, instead of simply writing down something just because. When I first started a gratitude journal, I wasn’t fully committed or motivated to write in it. So, it’s important to remember why you started journaling in the first place and to focus on what you are writing.

3.) Write Regularly. But don’t overdo it. It’s important to keep to establish a routine, such as setting aside one or two days per week to write in your journal. That being said, try not to go overboard, especially if you are just beginning. Even writing daily might be too much, at first, and if you become overwhelmed, you are more likely to stop the process altogether.

Gratitude journaling can reap many benefits, but may take some time getting used to it. Give it time, be creative, and have fun with it!

Guest Blogger: Mollie Clupper, Public Ally

Mollie Clupper is working as a Public Ally AmeriCorps Apprentice for MHA. Using her own experiences, she wants to help bring awareness and end the stigma surrounding mental health. In her spare time, she enjoys hiking, drinking coffee, and spending time with her fur-niece.