Keeping A Record
I first started consistently keeping a journal in middle school. It was full of gossip and ideas for outfits. I had no idea that ten years later, I would still be flipping through it, scanning the pages for any telltale signs of my budding mental illness. When I go back and read what I wrote as a thirteen-year-old, I can see that I was mostly happy but very anxious. Without even meaning to, I kept a gratitude journal in that I wrote down things about my life that I enjoyed.
Details like this are so important for me and my doctor to understand when and why I first began to show signs of a mental illness. I have around twenty or so journals now. I love to write, but more than that, I want to keep a record of my thoughts and feelings so that I can look back and reflect. Keeping a journal is so important for being aware of your own feelings. That’s why self-care challenge three is keeping a gratitude journal!
For this week’s challenge, I recommend the feature called “My Journal” on the Health Storylines app. Using this feature, you can choose the date and time of each journal entry, as well as the topic for that entry. For example, one of the suggested topics is “Three Things I’m Thankful For Today.” This topic is the one we will be focusing on in this challenge. If you missed the first two challenges, click here!
By actively thinking about the things we are thankful for, we force ourselves to focus on the positive. For example, the first time I started purposely keeping a gratitude journal I was 21 and not in recovery yet. I had not found the right medication. Therefore, I could not work or go to school. I was depressed, bored, and battling delusions and hallucinations daily. So I made a deal with myself to look on the bright side even though nothing about my situation seemed very bright. At 2 pm every day, I would take ten minutes to stop whatever I was doing and come up with a list of things I was thankful for.
Even on my worst days, I always found something positive about my situation. From clean running water to living in the beautiful mountains of North Georgia, keeping a gratitude journal showed me I had much to thankful for. Now I can look back and see that I have always been lucky, that I’ve always had a good quality of life. Deciding to think positive did not cure me of my mental illness. I still take medications and go to therapy. However, it helped me stop the habits of ruminating on everything that I disliked about my life. It helped me change my attitude, which aided me in transforming my negative outlook.
Self Care Challenge 3: Keeping A Gratitude Journal
1. Pick a time every day for five days when you will be able to take ten minutes to pull up the Health Storylines app and write in the “My Journal” feature. Don’t forget to choose the topic of your entry as “Three Things I’m Thankful For.” I love using this app because it easily keeps all my entries in one place!
2. Use that time every day to stop whatever you’re doing and relax. If you’re having trouble coming up with things to be grateful for, look out the window or take a walk. Is the view pretty? Are you enjoying the weather? The things in your gratitude journal don’t have to be big things. They can be little things like enjoying a hot cup of tea. Take the time to focus on the positive things in your life. You’ll be surprised how many good things there are, and you might even have to extend your list!
3. At the end of the week, open the app and look over all the little things about your life that make it great. Are you surprised? Do you feel lucky? If you’d like, feel free to continue doing this activity for as long as you need it! When I’m down and don’t have a notebook on me, I love jotting down three things I’m thankful for in the Health Storylines app. It’s such a quick and easy way to change my attitude!
Keeping a gratitude journal really helped me when I was at my lowest. Now that I have found the right medication, I am back in school and working. I have so much to be thankful for, but whenever I’m feeling low, I still like to list a few things that I love about my life.
August Pfizenmayer is the founder of Survival is a Talent. She is a freelance writer, blogger, and social media strategist. She is passionate about health and wellness, social issues, and the environment. She studies Communication at The University of North Georgia.