Hopefully, this post reaches you in a peaceful, pleasant mood as you relax in your easy chair, glass of wine in hand, and a glimmer of curiosity in your eye. For many people, that is not the case as the holidays approach and most especially not this holiday season which follows a particularly divisive election term.
The holiday season can ignite feelings of depression, anxiety, and grief for many people. When people have lost family and friends, lack the resources to buy expensive gifts, and do not receive invitations to holiday parties, the season can be miserable. Even people who are normally comfortable can experience depressive feelings due to social isolation, increased stress, and lacking exercise.
Tis the Season to be Thankful
Yes, the holidays are a time for assembled family members to sit around the table and share a meal; it is a time for friendly parties and cranberry cocktail and sequined dresses and gifts wrapped in golden paper. For some people, the holidays allow for a season of joy and an appreciation of life. And although the holiday season can bring about such different reactions from people, we can all benefit from taking time to reflect on the positive elements in our lives.
Creative journaling practices can provide a healthy alternative to despondency and give all people, writers and non-writers alike, an opportunity to be mindful. When people reflect, they mentally move outside of the present stressors and into another mindset. They can see, feel, hear, smell, and taste memories. We all have some positive memories and something in the present to be thankful for, even if tapping into those memories can be challenging at first. Not only can we access the positive moments of the past but through gratitude journaling, we can identify the thankful elements of the present.
Gratitude journaling is a process of seeking out those details within our lives that are worthwhile, valuable, and noteworthy. They are the moments in life worth remembering and worth being grateful for at any time. Over the past two decades, multiple studies suggest that gratitude journaling can increase happiness, improve quality of sleep, and lessen symptoms of illness.
A gratitude journal can look different for different people. One person may prefer to use an audio recording application on a smart phone to collect anecdotes, ideas, and thoughts about things to be grateful for. Another person might prefer a Moleskin paper journal that fits into a pocket and holds onto appreciative stories. Another might opt for a Google document, which can be added to any time of day via phone, computer, or tablet. Our methods for housing our thoughts are as varied and open to creativity as our personalities.
Go Deep with Gratitude
A gratitude journal should not just be a bulleted list of the five things you are thankful for. Sure, that style is helpful in a pinch or as a brainstorm to get the creative juices flowing. But if we really want to experience the stress relief that gratitude journaling can offer, then we have to dig a bit deeper than a one work answer.
How can we write for a deeper sense of gratitude in our writing practices?
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