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.