Have you ever tried a gratitude challenge / journal?
I like the idea of practicing gratitude. I think as new age as it can sound at first it’s actually a very practical and CBT based way of managing your own mental health.
The reality is it is very easy to see a negative and focus on it and feel bad because of it. When you make the effort to try and look beyond that to positives, however small, it can start to transform how you feel in that moment. The more you intentionally work to transform negative thoughts to positive ones the more naturally it comes and the more naturally it comes the easier it is to focus on the positives of a situation over the negatives. So the act of practicing gratitude daily is a good way of training your brain and thus feeling better in yourself.
What isn’t so easy however is actually getting started. At first completing a gratitude journal can feel somewhat ridiculous and getting started when you may not feel in a positive space is actually pretty hard.
I had CBT sessions back in 2016 when I was struggling with depression and anxiety. At the time I thought the techniques I was shown in these sessions didn’t work – I wasn’t in the right frame of mind to be able to turn situations around in my head or look beyond my situation as it was at that point. Now, in a much better place, I see how useful the techniques actually are and use them frequently, but I continue to believe there is an irony in the fact that I actually needed to feel better to begin to practice the tools that could have made me feel better at the time.
Learning to manage your own mindset is a skill to be learnt and developed. That is why social media posts telling people to just feel ‘positive vibes only’ and other such slogans irk me so much, gratitude isn’t something that is easy to just suddenly feel- particularly in challenging times.
This is why I particularly liked an Ebook that I recently downloaded that teaches you how to start approaching gratitude. Rather than a book to record your own lists of what you are grateful for (I really like these too, I always think you’re far more likely to stick to things when you like the tools you are working with) this actually approaches how to do it.
It was produced by a small business called LSW London. The company’s main product is actually a really pretty set of 45 cards with tasks to carry out to help you improve your mood (the idea is you take one out at random and complete it, almost teaching you habits that can help anchor you). However they also have this Ebook (only £3.95) and several mindfulness based recordings to listen to (£2.99 each).
If you are unsure about how to get starting with the practice of gratitude I would highly recommend this ebook as a starting point to get you going.