At the start of January I set a ‘word of the year‘, something to keep me focused, to remind me of what’s good in my life and to ensure that I stayed accountable for my decisions, the word I chose was Gratitude. Over the past 6 months I have been focusing daily on the importance of being grateful and it has had a huge positive impact on my mental health.
It’s so easy to allow whatever negative thing has happened in your day to dominate your thoughts. The row you had with your partner, the meal that took you ages to cook but the kids refused to eat, being overlooked for the promotion you so desperately wanted at work, the list could go on and on. Once you start concentrating on whatever negative thing has happened your brain will start reminding you of other negative thoughts, which will bring your happiness levels down further. The rest of your day may have been amazing but that will be pushed aside and forgotten as you allow yourself to concentrate on the bad things. This is what I used to do and I knew it was having a detrimental effect on my mental health. I would think about one negative thing that had happened in my day and that would remind me of another bad thing and another. It would snowball out of control so easily that I would feel like everyone else in the world had a better life than me and that mine was nothing but problem after problem, which in reality wasn’t true at all.
It was really important to me to stop that pattern of focusing on negative thoughts, so I started concentrating on the good things in my life and saying thank you for them. I know it sounds a bit ‘hippie’ that I was saying thank you for my life, but that’s what being grateful is all about. It’s about recognising what’s good, even if it’s something tiny like the sun shining, because the more you think about the positive things in your life, the more positive things will find you.
I knew that being grateful on a daily basis wouldn’t always be easy, so for Christmas I asked for a gratitude journal to help me find the good in every day. Each night when I get in bed I fill in my journal and think about the good parts of that day. It might be really mundane stuff, such as the house is clean and tidy, but it’s still something that I’m grateful for and I write it down. Filing in my journal means that my mind is focused on whatever has made me happy during the day and I go to sleep feeling settled and content instead of allowing negative thoughts to play on my mind and keep me awake at night.
The journal I chose is The Bees Knees Journal. It’s made by Kelly who is one of the most inspiring and hardworking people I have ever come across! Kelly’s mum was sadly diagnosed with Huntingdon’s Disease and Kelly is determined to help fight this horrible illness so she donates £1 from the sale of each journal to UCL and their ongoing research into finding a cure.
(A side note – Kelly hasn’t asked me to write this, nor is this an affiliate link. Mark bought my journal for me as a Christmas gift, but I wanted to share it with you because I think it is an awesome product and it supports a fantastic cause)
I love this journal because it makes being grateful so easy! There’s space to write down 3 things that I have loved each day, something I am thankful for and what my ‘bees knees’ moment of the day was. It also makes me think about my physical, spiritual, mental and emotional health. The best thing about it is that it encourages you to colour in each page, which helps you to de-stress and think about your day while you are colouring. Colouring’s not just for kids anymore!
I’m not sure I would have found it so easy to find the reasons for being grateful each day without this journal. It also doubles up as a nice way to record memories and I find myself smiling when I look back over the month to see what brought me happiness. I love this journal so much that I’m even taking it on holiday with me!
Being grateful isn’t about showing off and saying ‘look at me and all the good things in my life’ it’s about looking inside and finding what really makes you happy, what you are really grateful for.
What are you grateful for?
Gratitude – my word of the year.
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