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7 Amazing Benefits Of Keeping A Gratitude Journal

The benefits of keeping a gratitude journal are far-reaching, affecting not only your overall health but your relationships with others. This is because the simple act of writing down what you’re grateful for has profound effects on your mental, physical, emotional, and spiritual well-being.

Do you want to unlock your mental resilience and foster a mindset of faith, trust, and inner peace? Gratitude is your gateway to all of this and more. So, keep reading if you want to learn more about what a gratitude journal is, what it’s used for, and the benefits of writing in a gratitude journal. 

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What Is A Gratitude Journal?

A gratitude journal is a dedicated space for expressing sincere appreciation for the gifts you receive in your daily life. These gifts aren’t necessarily the kind that come wrapped in a pretty bow, though. When a friend sets aside time to help you with a project, their time and gesture are both gifts. When you wake up to a beautiful view of the morning sunrise, this, too, is a gift.

Your body, breath, and this moment right now are all gifts. You might also call them your daily miracles.

While you won’t find a one-size-fits-all template that every gratitude journal follows, there are a few common components many gratitude journals include:

  • Space to write one to three things you’re grateful for each day
  • Reflection questions to promote appreciation, joy, and positivity
  • Quotes and/or affirmations rooted in gratitude.

What Is A Gratitude Journal Used For?

A gratitude journal is a tool for uncovering the many gifts that exist in your daily world. By keeping a gratitude journal, you cultivate a positive mindset of love, appreciation, and true joy for all that you have in your life. While it’s easy to get wrapped up in minor inconveniences and negative feelings related to lack and scarcity, a gratitude journal allows you to focus on the abundance of good that exists all around you. And even when times get tough, it can help you see the light at the end of the tunnel.

But to be clear, this isn’t toxic positivity, which is the practice of suppressing negative emotions in order to fake happiness that you don’t truly feel. With a gratitude journal, you don’t suppress any of the negative aspects of your life. Rather, it’s an invitation to reframe your perspective. Gratitude empowers you to ask, “How is this negative situation serving my growth? What opportunity does it offer to learn more about myself?”

This, in turn, builds mental resilience. In the face of hardships, you’re less likely to default to self-pity and frustration. And in time, you may even view hardship as an opportunity to find a new, better path. 

It takes time, but writing in a gratitude journal is one of the greatest practices you can do for your overall well-being.

Gratitude Journal - Spiritual Growth & Well-being

7 Benefits Of Keeping A Gratitude Journal

#1 – Gratitude Improves Physical Health

One of the most surprising benefits of a gratitude journal is the positive effect it has on your physical health. But unless you’re expressing gratitude while you’re exercising (which isn’t a bad idea), how exactly is this possible?

One explanation is that gratitude promotes a sense of calmness within. This allows you to become less susceptible to stress, which is a major contributor to heart disease, high blood pressure, headaches, skin conditions, and other long-term physical ailments. 

Here are a few more science-backed physical health benefits of gratitude:

  • Practicing gratitude improves heart rate [1]
  • It helps with blood sugar control [2]
  • It decreases diastolic blood pressure [3]
  • And it leads to fewer overall physical health complaints [4] [5].

#2 – Gratitude Improves Mental Health

The World Health Organization (WHO) makes clear that mental health is more than just the absence of health disorders. As stated by the WHO: mental health is “a state of well-being in which an individual realizes his or her own abilities, can cope with the normal stresses of life, can work productively and is able to make a contribution to his or her community.”

Keeping a gratitude journal can have a profound effect on your mental health and well-being.  One study found that participants who wrote what they felt grateful for every week were more optimistic about the future and felt better about their lives as a whole. Additionally, they reported spending significantly more time exercising [6]. Another study found that health care practitioners who wrote in a work-related gratitude diary twice a week reported lower depressive symptoms and less perceived stress [7]. These studies show that the mental health benefits of keeping a gratitude journal extend to your physical and emotional health as well. By choosing gratitude, you feel calmer and are more likely to make better choices for your overall well-being.

Gratitude & Personal Wellbeing

#3 – Gratitude Promotes Spiritual Growth

When you cultivate a gratitude mindset, you don’t only feel thankfulness in times of success and triumph; you become grateful for every cycle in your life – even the difficult ones. You have the ability to understand how every hardship contributed to your growth. In fact, you wouldn’t be the person you are today without these hard times.

As you discover how every experience in your life served a purpose, your path starts to feel a little less “random”. And this is where the magic happens. At one time, you might have believed that life was happening to you. With gratitude, you come to realize that life is happening for you. And eventually, you may also discover that life is happening through you. As you move forward, you may even start to trust the divine guidance of a power greater than yourself. This creates the ability to surrender, have faith, and trust your path.

Additionally, gratitude fosters compassionate love and greater feelings of empathy [8], which helps you to develop your emotional intelligence. This opens your heart and awakens a deeper sense of interconnectedness.

#4 – Gratitude Increases Self-Esteem

Multiple studies have linked gratitude with self-esteem, showing an overall positive relationship [9] [10]. One study even found that body-focused gratitude writing led to improved body image and less internalized weight bias in participants [11]. Another study found that participants who practiced gratitude were less likely to compare themselves to others on social media [12].

So, how exactly does a gratitude practice like writing a gratitude journal increase self-esteem? By showing yourself sincere appreciation, you’re less likely to compare yourself to others. Instead of becoming resentful for what another person has, you become grateful for what you have. This reduces the “not-enough” mentality that can harm a person’s self-esteem. 

#5 – Gratitude Reduces Stress

From a biological perspective, stress used to play a meaningful, positive role in humans’ lives as it functioned as a warning system triggering fight/flight responses in us. Even today, there’s still value to experiencing short bursts of stress. The stress that once signaled to our ancestors that they should run from the saber-toothed tigers now prompts us to swerve from oncoming traffic. At its very foundation, stress is meant to keep us alive.

But the key phrase from above is “short bursts”. Stress, in the biological sense, was something temporary, meant to cause an immediate response in us that solved the stressful situation. The problem today is that our bodies haven’t evolved to function under the persistent stress many of us encounter in our daily lives.

So, how do you maintain your health and well-being in the face of overwhelming stress?

Multiple studies have shown that gratitude has a meaningful positive impact on a person’s stress levels [13] [14]. When you write down everything that’s going right with your life, you remember that it’s not all bad. This, in turn, creates a sense of calm and stability, even in the face of persistent external demands.

#6 – Gratitude Helps You Sleep Better

An unexpected benefit of keeping a gratitude journal is improved sleep. A study published in the Journal of Psychosomatic Research found that participants who expressed gratitude during the day slept better and longer at night [15].

If you often lie awake at night replaying the previous day or worrying about tomorrow, focusing on gratitude instead can help you quiet your mind to sleep better [16]. Here are a couple of tips to help you get started with creating an evening gratitude routine:

  • Keep a nightly gratitude journal. Focus on three things that happened during the day that you feel grateful for. Your list might include something as small as a really good cup of coffee or a hug from a loved one. 
  • Having trouble thinking of something? Focus on the bottom levels of Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs: food, water, warmth, rest, security, and safety. Which of these things did you experience today and in what ways? 

#7 – Gratitude Improves Relationships

Think about the last time someone acknowledged you at work. What about at home? How did it make you feel?

For most of us, being acknowledged feels really good. And the act of showing appreciation toward one another can go a long way in improving the quality of your relationships.

Multiple studies have shown that when two people (such as a couple) express gratitude toward each other, they experience a deeper connection and report feeling more satisfied and loved [17][18]. Gratitude doesn’t just improve your romantic relationships, though. When co-workers express gratitude toward one another, for example, their sense of being valued increases, which improves trust and encourages them to want to offer help in the future [19].

You can use your gratitude journal to help you get started with this. Each day, write down the name of someone you’re thankful for with a why-statement. Then, make it a practice to acknowledge them that day. Send them a kind text message, verbally express your thankfulness, or leave them a small gift that shows your appreciation.

Download Your 52-Week Gratitude Journal Today

Gratitude Journal With Prompts For One Year of Grounding Gratitude

Are you looking to start a daily gratitude practice? Keeping a gratitude journal doesn’t have to be hard. (Nor should it be.) In fact, you can start this profound practice today.

To help you get started, we have created a 52-week gratitude journal for you, which includes weekly reflection questions each focusing on a different aspect of gratitude, space to write down what you’re thankful for each day, and gratitude-based affirmations. You’ll also have the option of typing into dedicated text fields in the PDF document or printing out the pages to write down your responses.

Click here to get your copy of the GRATITUDE JOURNAL WITH PROMPTS today!

The Bottom Line

Keeping a gratitude journal is a powerful practice to support your mental, emotional, physical, and spiritual well-being. By keeping a gratitude journal, you’re able to recognize all of the gifts in your daily world. This builds mental resilience, and it allows you to perceive obstacles and hardships as opportunities for growth. Expressing gratitude can also improve your relationships, reduce stress, and increase your self-esteem, leading to an overall happier and more positive mental state.

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