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The Surprising Benefits of Keeping a Gratitude Diary

Did you know that journaling may affect your health? It's surprising but appears to be true.

Gratitude diaries may be the new up and coming trend, as they appear help you reap health and wellness benefits. But should you take the time to keep a gratitude diary? Read on to find out if it’s the right move for you.

What is a Gratitude Diary?

A gratitude diary is simply a diary or journal that you keep to regularly to write down things you are thankful/grateful for. It’s a way to record positive thoughts to help boost your mood and attitude. In a way, it aids in the power of positive thinking, because when you see in writing all of the positive things in your life, your thoughts and peace of mind should reflect positively as well.

Pros

Keeping a gratitude diary may benefit your physical and mental health, according to a 2015 study published in the Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine. Researchers who conducted the study found that subjects who kept gratitude diaries and mentally reflected on things they were grateful for showed improvements in happiness and had less stress and depression compared with control subjects. The researchers concluded that being grateful through the use of a diary and positive reflection enhances well-being.

The Greater Good Science Center at the University of California Berkley also suggests that keeping a gratitude journal enhances happiness in children and adults, decreases symptoms of illness, and leads to better sleep (which in itself reduces chronic disease and obesity risks).

Cons

The cons of keeping a gratitude diary are few, as benefits appear to outweigh any drawbacks. But, possible cons might include having to pay for a journal to record gratitude — and the fact that gratitude journals can be time-consuming for some people. Also, if you hate writing, keeping a journal may seem like a drag.

Gratitude Journaling Tips

When keeping a gratitude diary, UC Berkley recommends the following tips:

  1. Journal once or twice weekly instead of every day. This may lead to more happiness than daily journaling.
  2. Record unexpected or surprising events to boost feelings of gratitude.
  3. Write down what life would be like without the things you are grateful for.
  4. Focus on people you are grateful for, not just things.
  5. Elaborate in detail on one or two things you’re most grateful for, instead of writing a long (non-detailed) list.
  6. Before you begin journaling, make a conscious decision to be more grateful and happier (get motivated).

Should I Keep a Gratitude Dairy?

Keeping a gratitude diary isn’t a guarantee you’ll reap mental and physical health benefits — or become a happier person. But because research shows health benefits appear to exist from being grateful and there aren't many drawbacks of journaling, you might as well give it a try!

[Image via Shutterstock]

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