Like a character in Game of Thrones, I keep pointing out winter is coming. I was not supposed to be here for winter. I suffer from Seasonal Affected Disorder, or SAD for short. Apt because that’s what the seemingly endless grey days make me — sad. However, thanks to the worldwide pandemic, I am stuck here until at least next spring.
Gratitude journaling is the surprisingly simple element in wellness and mental health. First, medical studies show gratitude journaling helps lower stress and improved sleep. Behavioral psychologists report increased resilience, greater happiness, and even improved interpersonal relationships. (And yes, I am grateful my husband unloads the dishwasher — and I tell him so.) It can even combat materialism and improve empathy and generosity in adolescents!
But it isn’t a miracle cure for our problems. Research with some depressed patients find it’s not for everyone. Nor is there a “one-size-fits-all” method of gratitude journaling. There’s disagreement on whether it’s better to gratitude journal daily or weekly. Professor of psychology, Sonja Lyubomirsky, found in one of her studies that counting blessings once per week increased participants’ sense of happiness. Doing daily gratitude exercises backfired. Some study participants became resentful or desensitized to the benefits.
However, for most people, developing our gratitude is core to strengthening our resilience to setbacks, hard times, and pain. You need to find the technique and frequency that work best for you.
This one is for my Journaling: Beyond the Diary students — and anyone else interested in journaling. Here are a few links and resources I use. If you have any other recommendations or suggestions, please feel free to leave a comment below. And let me know if you are interested in an online version of my class or workshop.
(Note: Comments are moderated to eliminate spam and trolls, so there is a delay between posting a comment and it going live. Sorry about the inconvenience but the trolls and greedy ruin everything.) And the YouTube videos are collected at the bottom of the post.
The Word Association Exercise is a discovery exercise. It is designed to help you explore and uncover your unconscious connections between certain concepts. It is especially useful if you find yourself resistant to a task you know will help you achieve a goal or procrastinating on an idea you believe will make your life better in some way. It can also be used when you feel compelled to do something that you believe would have a negative impact on your life. It can also be useful as a journaling prompt or writing exercise.
The Why Exercise examines your automatic assumptions, bias, and programming. If you aren’t getting really annoyed or uncomfortable, it’s a good sign you need to keep digging. Knowing why you believe something or are pursuing a goal is increases your motivation. We’re far more likely to exercise because we believe it will reduce the chance of dementia or to reach our goal of completing the London Marathon than if we plan to exercise because our doctor says we should.
This is a great exercise to use whenever you are thinking of buying something or investing time or money in something especially on impulse or if it increases your debt. The Why Exercise causes you to slow down and examine your motivation — and your priorities.
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