In my 3 previous posts, I went over 9 strategies relating to self-care during the holidays: Movement, Sleep, Meditation, Hydration, Nourishing Foods, Self-Compassion, Planning, Knowing Your Audience, and Breathwork. This final post in the series is about two practices: Journaling and Gratitude. Both of these practices support your return to what matters, help you know yourself and trust your wisdom, and open your mind and heart. You can dive in and spend an hour or more, or check in for a few minutes. You benefit either way.
I have found Journaling to be incredibly helpful for me over the years. When I am struggling or in conflict with a person, I write them a letter (that I never send), which helps me understand why I am upset. It gets me to the root of the problem, and often to a solution. When I am able to say everything that I need to say and not worry about hurting someone’s feelings, it feels cathartic and enlightening. My feelings are about me, so expressing them allows me to process and move beyond them. I dig through why I am upset and the stories I am telling myself. I can see the situation with more compassion and figure out what to do, if anything.
Another technique I use when journaling is stream of consciousness. If I am working out a problem or a feeling that I don’t understand, I start writing. When you write without thinking or planning, you can tap into your subconscious. Just write whatever comes to mind. Don’t worry about grammar, punctuation, or spelling. Let your thoughts flow out like rushing water. You can write poetry, bullet points, one endless sentence, whatever feels natural to you in the moment. You can even draw or doodle. What matters is you let go and see what comes. We all have a well of internal wisdom; this is a way to hear it.
How to journal
I recommend journaling by hand, rather than typing. Putting pen to paper helps you touch your subconscious mind in a way that typing doesn’t. Get a pen you like and a notebook of some kind. Start with 10-15 minutes, you can set a timer, if that is helpful. You can start with a question or query, or just put pen to paper and begin. Maybe you start with “I feel…” and see what happens. Or “Dear…” and write a letter about how you feel. There is no right or wrong way to journal as long as you don’t censor yourself or your thoughts. Just write. This is for you to help you understand what is going on inside your head. No one else will see this so be truthful, long-winded, and just let go. You might be amazed at what comes up for you.
A gratitude practice can be life changing and mind/heart opening. There is quote that I love from Zig Ziglar: “Gratitude is the healthiest of all human emotions. The more you express gratitude for what you have, the more likely you will have even more to express gratitude for.” Practicing gratitude is a heart opening practice that brings you into a more positive frame of mind. When you start to think about things for which you are grateful, you start to notice more things in your life to be grateful for. If you tend to complain a lot, you only see what is wrong in your life. When you start looking for things to be grateful for, you notice everything that is already right in your life. It’s a subtle but profound shift that can make challenging days just a little brighter.
This is not to say that once you start practicing gratitude that you will never be upset or have a bad day. Life happens, and sometimes things genuinely suck. But… When you practice gratitude, you let go of all of the little annoyances that don’t really matter and instead focus on what’s really important.
I began my gratitude practice about 5 years ago. I just fell into it accidentally. I was already an optimistic person by nature, but I noticed that each day I was feeling happier and more positive about life in general. I looked forward to writing my gratitudes, and started sharing how grateful I was for various people in my life. Once I started I didn’t want to stop. And I didn’t. When I was hit with a really hard day, I was able to sit with the discomfort. Then I would find one thing, a small thing, that I could be grateful for in that moment. It didn’t fix the pain, but it eased me out of wallowing in it.
How to start a Gratitude Practice
Practicing gratitude is simple and doesn’t take much time. Each day, write down 1 thing that you are grateful for. Make it something different each day. You might even want to try 2 or 3 things per day. You can write it in your journal, on your computer, or in your phone. Write it down and pause to breathe. Feel truly grateful for what you wrote down.
- I am grateful for this hot cup of tea
- I am grateful for love in my life
- I am grateful for my father’s support
- I am grateful for this amazing dinner
- I am grateful that I got to witness tonight’s sunset. What beautiful colors
The object of your gratitude doesn’t matter. What matters is that you feel grateful for whatever it is. The more gratitude you feel, the more your heart opens and the more joy and contentment you feel in that moment. Bring that feeling with you into the rest of your day.
Join me for 10 Days of Mindful Moments, free in my Facebook Group! Each day I’ll lead a 5-10 minute meditation practice for you to take live or on demand. These short meditations are designed to be easy to fit into the day and leave you feeling grounded, relaxed, and calm. Click here to sign up!
Get my free eBook, “3 Meditation Myths and Why it’s Easier Than You Think!”
If you are an active adult over 50 and are looking to Age Gracefully with Strength, Balance, Mobility, and Mindfulness, join me for online yoga, meditation, stretching, and mindful core classes, either live or on demand! Go to www.purpleroomyoga.com to check out all of the options!