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Keeping a gratitude journal

When we feel low or anxious it is easy to focus on the negative aspects of our lives and these are then the things we are most likely to remember. When we spend time thinking about the positives, it can change the way we see our lives. Keeping a Gratitude Journal helps to focus on the positive aspects of your life. It need only take a few minutes but could change how you feel for much longer.

There are many ways to do this. Some may write things down in a note book, others may want to keep an electronic record, while others may prefer a gratitude jar and to put their entries on a slip of coloured paper into the jar. You may want to have one slip for each day, or one slip for each item that you are grateful for. You might like to decorate your book or jar or even each entry if you have time, as being creative is a wonderful way to encourage positivity.

To start with, spend 5 – 10 minutes every day, if possible, thinking about what you are grateful for. Be specific and also make a note of the reasons why you are grateful.

· Think about the people in your life, you may be grateful for the people you are close to

· Maybe someone showed you kindness when you didn’t expect it

· Or someone had an influence on your life whether big or small, that changed things for you

· Maybe a stranger smiled at you when you were feeling low

· You may be grateful for things that you have that give you pleasure or make life easier

· You may have things that hold a special memory

· Think about the experiences you have had, ones that make you smile.

· Or experiences that affected you for the better. They may not all have felt positive at the time, but if they have changed your life for the better, then maybe that is a good thing?

· What do you appreciate about yourself? From personal qualities to talents. It’s important to recognise your own strengths. If this is a struggle for you then ask family or friends who you trust for some positive feedback. You may also want to give them some positive feedback in return.

· What are you proud of?

· Think about you environment, where you live and where you go. Are there any things that make you feel good? It may only be bird song, but that’s enough.

· Is there something you are looking forward to?

· Or something that makes you excited about the future?

It’s easier to start by looking at the past and what has been good, but then over time move the focus to the present. What‘s good right now? What happened yesterday or earlier today? Some people find it easier to focus on their senses (sight, hearing, touch, taste and smell) to bring the positives to mind. So take time to notice your surroundings, both inside and outside and think about what you appreciate about them. As we start to notice and appreciate the everyday things, life starts to feel a little lighter and more positive, and we become more aware of reasons to say Thank You.

It may feel good to do this daily or weekly, whatever suits you. On days that it feels too difficult, try looking back over previous days and hold onto what you have been grateful for in the past.

It’s not all about what other people do, it’s also about the rays of sunshine that you shine into other people’s lives and you do. You’re just not always aware of it! Being kind, caring or generous (with time, your judgement, things or money) all help us to feel better about ourselves and life in general.

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Jeannette Robson

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