The Best Way to Spend 5 Minutes a Day

  • By Andi Atkins
  • 18 Dec, 2017

Andi Atkins recommends a simple tool to improve your day

The Best Way to Spend 5 Minutes a Day
The holiday season can be a wonderful, even magical time. But it can also be a source of stress as we rush to buy gifts, decorate, bake, and plan. Many people experience anxiety around conflict and drama as families come together (or come apart) during this stressful time. The days are dark and the weather is bitter. And of course, the holidays can be a sad reminder of the losses we have endured and the people that we miss. These are legitimate feelings and it is good to acknowledge them.

That being said, there is a simple way to boost your health and happiness – and it only takes five minutes a day! My challenge to you is this: before bed every night, write down at least three things from the day that you are grateful for. They can be big things (“My biopsy results came back clear”, “I got a promotion”, “I passed my exam”) or little things (“The bakery had my favourite kind of scone this morning”, “A stranger complimented my jacket”, “I heard a funny joke”, “The weather was nice”). Try to spend at least a minute reflecting on each one, remembering as much as possible about your experience: your feelings of happiness, the taste of the scone, how the sunshine felt on your face.

This Gratitude Journal, or Blessings Journal, is an exercise that comes from positive psychology, sometimes referred to as the psychology of happiness. Researchers found that people who completed this exercise consistently had better sleep and reported better well-being. So how does it work? There are a few factors at play here.

First of all, practicing this activity will help you end your days on a positive note, which can impact not just your mood, but your quality of sleep. Secondly, keeping a Gratitude Journal will give you a more balanced and accurate perspective on life. As humans, we are biased towards the negative; this instinct comes from our evolutionary past, where we had to be hyper-vigilant to every potential threat. Nowadays, that negative bias and hyper-vigilance are more harmful than helpful; individuals suffering from anxiety and depression are especially susceptible. Gratitude Journaling trains your brain to be alert for the positive and teaches you to keep things in perspective. Finally, over time you will accumulate a list of things for which you are grateful, and this will give you something to draw on in dark moments.

The Gratitude Journal can benefit anyone. However, sometimes we need a bit more support: someone to talk to, someone to help us get unstuck. If this sounds familiar, CLICK HERE to check out what counselling can do for you or to sign up for a free 30-minute orientation.

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