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How to Keep a Gratitude Journal



Gratitude is something we often only think of and practice in the month of November at the prompting of Thanksgiving. It might be done as you reconnect with family and friends for the holidays, volunteer your time for those in need, or even sharing what you’re grateful around the dinner table.

And the outcomes of practicing gratitude are great. They include:

  • lower blood pressure
  • a stronger immune system
  • higher tolerance for pain
  • more forgiving
  • feeling less isolated
  • higher levels of positive emotions

But the benefits of gratitude can be practiced all year long, if only we make the effort. A Gratitude Journal is a great way to practice being grateful and thankful, not only during the holidays but all year round!

How to Keep a Gratitude Journal

Journaling can be written, typed, recorded, or even just thought about. The important thing is to take the time each day to complete your journaling, regardless of how it’s done. 

  1. Find a comfortable seated area with a flat and sturdy area if you’re writing or typing. Seating by a window or with pleasant lighting are great starting spots but it’s really up to you!
  2. Set your timer for the allotted amount of time. We recommend 3 to 5 minutes to start and you can add additional time as you need. Remember, it doesn’t have to be a long practice for you to see the benefits!
  3. Write, speak, or reflect for the allotted time.
  4. When the timer goes off, take a moment to soak in the feeling of thankfulness from this practice.
  5. Set your journal items aside (if applicable) and continue with your day!

Tips & Tricks to Journaling for Stroke & TBI

Keeping a Gratitude Journal sounds great and all but it’s easier said than done. We know that stroke and TBI can impact cognitive and executive functioning, making it challenging to stay consistent with tasks. And paralysis or weakness in the hands or arms can make written communication a challenge, if not nearly impossible. 

But, as we all know, you don’t have to be limited by your stroke or TBI. There is both the technology and the tools to help you practice gratitude. So check out our tips and tricks listed below and let us know how they work for you!

For writing challenges:

  • Use voice dictation on your phone or computer for voice to text speech 
  • Ask a friend, loved one, or caregiver to help you write or to write for you
  • Use Voice Notes or a similar recording app to keep an audio journal
  • Do a mental reflection (no writing, just thinking!)
  • Make it a conversation with a friend or loved one. You can each take time reflecting on what you’re grateful for and why. 

Tips to stay consistent:

  • Journal at the same time every day (we recommend morning or right before bed)
  • Set a timer (we recommend 5 minutes for journaling)
  • Sit in the same place each time you journal
  • Add it to part of your routine (ex: do it while you have your morning coffee or tea)
  • Use bullet points instead of full sentences
  • Leave your materials in the same place each time (timer, journal, notes, etc)

What to write or think about:

  • Reflect on things that made you smile that day
  • Try to include reasons why you’re grateful 
  • Acknowledge your accomplishments big or small
  • Think of yourself, those around you, your community, and at a global level
    • Use the thought ‘people, places, things, and events‘ to help you brainstorm
  • It’s ok to repeat the same things you’re grateful for each day 
    • Just be sure to take time to truly feel thankful for it each time your write it!
  • Note anything difference or changes to your usual routine
  • Try to be detailed!
    • It’s better to thoroughly reflect on why you’re grateful for something rather than focusing on listing as many items 

Interested in learning more gratitude practices? Check out our online Chair Yoga or Mind-Body Practices class and learn how you can expand your awareness and improve your health through our easy to access and stroke specific groups. These classes are catered specifically for stroke and TBI.

Sources: Greater Good Berkley


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