Have you heard about gratitude journaling? Back when I was in college, I had a few really tough years. Don't get me wrong, I loved college, but it was definitely a stress-filled time in my life. I had a bad physical accident and although I made a full recovery, it took a pretty big toll on my mental and emotional health. Add that to the stress of full time student teaching and leading a student organization on campus, all while still taking a full course load--I was exhausted, overwhelmed, and emotionally and physically depleted. I don't remember exactly how I heard about gratitude journaling (or if it was even much of a 'thing' back then) but I bought myself a cute notebook and started writing down at least 3 positive things before bed each night. Years later, I am still at it, and I think it is one of the best things I have ever done for my mental health. Looking for the positives in each day has totally changed my mindset. Even on the worst day ever, I can find 3 positive things, no matter how small. Knowing I can find the good in each day is extremely comforting. Here are some tips for starting your own practice of gratitude journaling!
Buy a cute journal--seriously.
Set a reminder until you get in the habit
Think in categories
I've played around with different formats for my journal entries and to be honest, there is no 'wrong way' to write about what you're grateful for. However, being the Type A person that I am, I found that it's easiest for me to think of things I am grateful for when I think in categories. For example, I usually try to include one item related to my work/school, one item related to the relationships in my life, and one item related to my own self. That last one has been hard for me, but explicitly acknowledging things I love about myself has really helped my confidence. When it literally has been the #worstdayever and I truly can't think of ANYTHING for one or more of these categories, I remind myself of the basic human needs that I so often take for granted. That really helps me check in with reality and remember how fortunate I am.
So, I would love to hear from you about your experiences with gratitude journaling. Have you tried it? Do you do it differently in any way? Never tried it? I really encourage you to start! I promise, it will slowly become part of the way you think. Eventually, you won't just think about the positives when you're journaling, you'll recognize them more frequently throughout the day. As teachers, we need to stay positive through all the challenges that come our way.