Keep a Mental Gratitude Journal for Less Stress

Feeling and expressing gratitude goes a long way toward alleviating your stress in daily life. Intuitively you know you should feel and express gratitude, but you may put it into practice less often than you think.

You may look at exercise in the same way: You know you should do more of it, but you just don’t. Sometimes you need to be reminded and encouraged. Keeping a journal makes it more likely that you’ll be aware of the importance of gratitude and express gratitude more frequently. Here’s what to do:

Find a time when you have a few moments to yourself and think about four or five things in your life right now for which you are thankful. This could be on the train on your way to work, on a coffee break at your desk, or at any quiet moment when you can step back and reflect. Here are some things you might be grateful for:

  • Your health

  • Your friends

  • Your children

  • Your relationship

  • Your skills and talents

  • Your home

  • Your job

  • Your life itself

Add to this list and come up with additional aspects of your life for which you can feel grateful.

For some people, carrying out this exercise daily may work best; for others, once a week may be enough. If you’re a good journal-keeper, you may want to jot down these objects of gratitude. Either way, try to make this exercise a regular part of your day or week.

Acknowledging those parts of your life for which you should be grateful is important; expressing gratitude to others is the other part.

Too often we feel gratitude but fail to express it. Our hearts are in the right place, but we don’t communicate our gratitude to the other person. This communication can take the form of a simple thank you or a more elaborate expression of gratitude.

It can be in response to a specific behavior or a larger pattern of behavior on the other person’s part. It can be something that happened recently or something that goes way back. It can be someone you know personally or someone you only know of. It can be a close connection, such as a family member, or someone more remote, such as a mail carrier, an author, or your child’s teacher.

These days, you have plenty of options for delivering your message. The vehicle for your gratitude could be a face-to-face meeting, a phone call, an e-mail, an instant message, a text message, or perhaps even a letter. Don’t wait for next Thanksgiving.

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