After learning about the potential benefits of journaling, I committed to giving journaling a try. The goals were to increase my gratitude and incorporate time for self-reflection into each day.
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Journaling is new for me, and I wanted to see what effect it would have. I’ll admit, I wasn’t quite convinced when I started, but as far as new year’s changes go, it seemed pretty low-risk and achievable! (Maybe I’ll tackle sweets next year.)
Would journaling help me feel more gratitude? Would I become more connected to myself?
I’m checking in 30 days later to share three things I’ve learned so far. Also, be sure to check out my list of best journals for beginners.
1. Starting a new habit isn’t easy
For a mom of four, or any mom, it can be hard to make time for a new activity before bed or first thing in the morning. I know I’m not a morning person, so I chose to incorporate journaling into my evening routine. This also allows me to reflect on the current day.
However, some nights I’ve just been too tired. The good thing about the journals I chose is they are undated, so I don’t feel like I messed everything up if I missed a day. I can get back on track the next day.
Keeping my journals and pen in a consistent place (on my nightstand) helped me to remember and establish the routine. I also do nightly stretching and have some quiet time as part of this. I’m still working on cementing this evening habit as part of my regular self-care.
As with any new habit, I expect it to take some time. But to realize the full benefits of journaling, the practice should be consistent.
2. Documenting gratitude changes your way of thinking
I was surprised how simply making a note of three things I am thankful for at the end of each day has really changed my outlook. This benefits of gratitude journaling were noticeable and quick. Now, throughout the day, I find myself stopping to take note mentally of things I appreciate. It can be the smallest of things. It’s like I’m doing my homework throughout the day.
One of my kids laughing, a helpful doctor, my iced coffee, a fuzzy blanket, even my boss. I’ve tried not to repeat things on my thankful list, just to see how long I can go with naming new things each day. My kids and husband frequently make it on there, but I always list a specific reason why. One of the kids being extra helpful, an unprompted hug, my husband making a delicious meal.
I often notice more than three things in a day. It’s like a mental smile throughout my day as I realize I have so much to be thankful for.
Even on bad days, I rarely have trouble thinking of three things I’m thankful for. This can be reassuring. Only a couple times have I had to rack my brain on exceptionally taxing days.
I can definitely see how this practice could boost happiness over time. The Good Days Start With Gratitude Journal was a small and worthwhile investment.
3. I had really lost track of my personal goals
Going through the prompts in the Start Where You Are journal made me realize it had been a long while since I had taken time to think through what I wanted for my future. Aside from having my last child and caring for my family, what did I want out of life?
I get so caught up in the day to day that it’s hard to step back and consider the path I’m on and where I want to go. Not that there’s anything wrong with focusing on my family, but I guess I had forgotten that I could have my own goals too.
I liked pairing this type of deeper reflection with the simple everyday gratitude exercise. Sometimes I would take a few days to mull over the prompts. Not all of them require such deep thinking, so it’s a good mix. I’m still making my way through in my own time.
Overall, I’ve been enjoying the practice of journaling and am beginning to see some benefits. At the simplest level, even taking some purposeful time to be with my own thoughts has been a welcome change.
Starting with these guided prompts has given me a good structure to get into the habit. In the future, I’d like to try out some different methods.
Check out the different types of journals and what might interest you—from free-form to bullet journals.
For now, I’m going to keep it up and aim for consistency in my practice. I’m curious to see what else I uncover through this process.
Have you experienced the benefits of journaling? I’d love to hear from you!