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Writing a Gratitude Journal to Manage Stress

Updated on August 3, 2014

In today's busy fast pace world it is extremely important to mindfully do activities to combat stress. Stress has been extensively studied as a major contributor to poor health. According to the Mayo Clinic stress can inflict poor sleep, overeating, depression, skin conditions, loss of hair, and even heart disease. One way to relieve stress is to write a gratitude journal.

A gratitude journal is a simple approach to stress relief and does not take up a lot of time. When someone focuses on gratitude the positives in life begin to be more apparent. Even if it seems that everything is stressful, including work, family, health and finances, having the ability to find something to be grateful for does produce more content.

Gratitude Journal

To begin a gratitude journal you will need a designated space to write what you are thankful for. This is a great time to purchase a special journal, or use a journal that has been lying empty on your bookshelf for years.

Below are some suggestions to purchase a gratitude journal. There are so many styles and ideas available suitable to fit your needs and how you would like to commit to gratitude journaling. Having a special place to write your gratitude affirms your commitment to this process and begins to change your focus positively.

Journal Recomendations

Moleskine Classic Notebook, Large, Plain, Black, Hard Cover (5 x 8.25) (Classic Notebooks)
Moleskine Classic Notebook, Large, Plain, Black, Hard Cover (5 x 8.25) (Classic Notebooks)

This is my favorite journal. It is inexpensive and unlined. Unlined journals are recommended for writers who like to add creative flare and images to their pages.


What To Write In A Gratitude Journal

The process of gratitude journaling is really very simple. There are several ways to commit to gratitude journaling. For some it would be writing a few simple words each day in a calendar to remind them of what they are grateful for each day. For others, they may want to use art making to depict their thankfulness. For some it will be a combination of techniques and ideas.

No matter how you choose to gratitude journal the end results will be the same. Stress will decrease as your focus changes to the positive aspects of your life.

Below are creative ideas on how to gratitude journal.

Making Gratitude Lists

The simplest way is to make a list of things you are grateful for. You can even use bullet points instead of full sentences. For example:

February 8, 2013

Today I am grateful for:

  1. My two new kittens who remind me tenderly of unconditional love
  2. A healthy family
  3. A great supportive community
  4. The sunshine
  5. My computer

Writing 5 things you are grateful for everyday will offer you the realization of what is going well. Recognizing specific positive occurrences will direct your attention away from what is stressful. This refocus will enable you the connection to positive thinking and decrease negative patterns of thoughts that lead to stress.


Revo'lution Art Bits

Art Therapist, Gretchen Miller designed a creative and powerful fun way to art journal daily. Her focus is to make art for 365 consecutive days on 1 inch x 3 inch cardstock. She keeps all the little pieces of art worked on a key ring. Every day she spends 20 to 30 minutes to work on an art bit. Gretchen writes about her practice on her blog Creativity In Motion.

"The size of these little pieces of paper has made this daily practice quite manageable to follow through with and for me, it also helps that the collection stays together on its ring and can easily travel with me on the go. I’ve been putting this Lil’ book in my bag every day. When an opportunity presents itself, I take 20-30 minutes (more or less) to work on an art bit, photograph it, and share it online."


Gratitude Art Bits

Gretchen has inspired me with the idea of making a gratitude art bit. The small size enables the creator to make a gratitude art bit in less than 20 minutes. After several gratitude art bits are created and combined with a key ring the artist will have gratitude images he or she can see, touch, and share. The constant reminder will decrease stress when the art of gratitude key ring is sought after during difficult times.

Gratitude Art Journaling

Another approach to gratitude journaling is using images and art making. Instead of writing your thoughts, use an image from a magazine to illustrate what you are thankful for. You can also cut out words from magazines and collage the words with the images. To make a gratitude art journal you will need the following simple supplies:

  • Glue stick
  • Scissors
  • Magazines
  • A sketch book

You can also add the following supplies if you would like to add more artistic expression:

  • Acrylic paint
  • Markers
  • Colored Pencils
  • Water Colors
  • Paint brushes
  • Water

The process is simple. Find words and images, or draw words and images, on what you are grateful for. The best type of book to support gratitude art journaling will be a sketch book. The paper is thicker therefor stronger for art materials. The unlined paper will allow for more artistic freedom. You can do a quick 5 minute gratitude image daily.

Another idea for gratitude art journaling, is to pick one word that depicts what you are thankful for that day. Using only one word you can be creative in how you honor your word including:

  • Write the word over and over again on your page, this will also be meditative as a mantra
  • Write the word really big so it takes up the page, add colors and doodles
  • Write the word in different types of fonts being playful
  • Find the word in a magazine and collage it

Inspiring Video on, How To Make A Gratitude Journal

Gratitude Journal

Do you keep a gratitude journal?

See results

Carly Sullens 2013. All Rights Reserved.


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    • Gratitude Journal profile image

      Gratitude Journal 4 years ago

      Agreed. An excellent way to reduce stress. Thanks for the read.

    • CarlySullens profile image

      CarlySullens 4 years ago from St. Louis, Missouri

      Thanks you Thomas I am glad you stopped by and you find this hub useful. I find writing it all out helps too, plus if you balance that out with gratitude I find, it helps shift the negative thinking to positive quicker.

    • Thomas Swan profile image

      Thomas Swan 4 years ago from New Zealand

      This sounds like a great idea to try. I used to write a diary during a stressful time in my life. It would help to justify my words and actions when I was beginning to doubt myself. It is certainly therapeutic to reflect in this way. When we sleep we essentially reflect on the day's events and thoughts during our dreams. We generally wake up feeling better for it. Such order can reduce anxiety and stress. Thanks for a useful hub, voted up!

    • Lizam1 profile image

      Lizam1 5 years ago from Victoria BC


    • CarlySullens profile image

      CarlySullens 5 years ago from St. Louis, Missouri

      Sure! I will do the same.

    • Lizam1 profile image

      Lizam1 5 years ago from Victoria BC

      We seemed to have published similar hubs about journalling this past week - I'd like to link your hub to the one I wrote about how to make a journal for stress relief. Is that OK?

    • CarlySullens profile image

      CarlySullens 5 years ago from St. Louis, Missouri

      I am thankful for you teaches. ;)

    • teaches12345 profile image

      Dianna Mendez 5 years ago

      I do believe that just writing things down helps to count your blessings. What a great idea to put them into a journal such as this. Thanks for sharing this creative thought.

    • CarlySullens profile image

      CarlySullens 5 years ago from St. Louis, Missouri

      I am so glad to hear that NornsMercy. Art journaling is really fun, and you do not have to be artistic to enjoy the process.

    • NornsMercy profile image

      Chace 5 years ago from Charlotte, NC

      This is so cool! I'm not a fan of the whole art scene because it seems really high above everyone else and excludes others. I think this art is really down-to-earth and anyone can do it. I'm totally starting one of these journals.

    • CarlySullens profile image

      CarlySullens 5 years ago from St. Louis, Missouri

      Thank you pstraubie48. Sending you Angels also.

    • CarlySullens profile image

      CarlySullens 5 years ago from St. Louis, Missouri

      Hi Kelly,

      One reason to write down what you are grateful for, is to leave a legacy for your children. When your children grow up and become adults, they can look at how their mom was incredible and thankful.

    • RealHousewife profile image

      Kelly Umphenour 5 years ago from St. Louis, MO

      I don't keep a journal but Carly I can not tell you how many times I day I think about how grateful I am to have my life:). I do tick off stuff I am happy for every day to remind myself. I do not take my life for granted. I love the idea of a journal!

    • profile image

      Tamra L Graver-Hartsock 5 years ago

      I dig this post. I have a digital gratitude journal and I have for many years. Going back and reading them is very therapeutic.

    • carol7777 profile image

      carol stanley 5 years ago from Arizona

      What a lovely idea. I often write down the things I am grateful for but need to do it everyday. Thanks for this lovely idea.

    • pstraubie48 profile image

      Patricia Scott 5 years ago from sunny Florida

      Reducing stress in this way keeps our minds and hearts on what is important. Grateful that you have written this as a reminder to us all.

      Sending you many Angels this morning. :) ps

    • Julie DeNeen profile image

      Blurter of Indiscretions 5 years ago from Clinton CT

      I am grateful for you too!!!