Guys—lets be real—2020 was rough, and quite honestly, I am over dwelling on the hot dumpster fire it was. One good thing I took away from 2020 was the feeling of habit. Like many, I sat on my couch and binged oodles of Netflix series while eating buckets of chocolate fudge ice cream. I watched the news with the single intent to hear something inspiring—something to trigger relief from the uncertainty. Numbers had turned into knives as neighbors illuminated dark skies with green lights.

All the anxiety brought on by the pandemic motivated me to start my own Gratitude Journal. Each new day, I turned to my journal and began to list the things I was grateful for. I spent an hour scratching my pencil on lined paper writing down the things that I missed and the things I was blessed to have. It brought a sense of calm and helped me to track all the good things in my life.

Journaling acts as a filtration system. It extracts the gunk that clogs our minds and purifies the body with positivity. Actually writing down the good makes it feel more real than just thinking about the good. It is not an ultimate fix to all your problems, but it settles the chaos that occurs when life looks a lot like 2020—a hot dumpster fire.

Getting started on your own journal is easy! Pick up a blank journal or notebook and condition yourself to write in your journal 2 to 3 times a week. Once you get started, the words will just flow. And you can even take it a step further by decorating your journal!

Below are some inspiration prompts for your own journal:

Friends – Over the course of my life, my friends have been an anchor in the most difficult times. We have laughed together and cried together. One of my favorite memories with my friends is going to the arboretum and getting lost in conversation. They have brought so much joy into my life, and today I will honor them.

Pets – Did you have a pet growing up? I was 12 when we rescued Batman from the local animal shelter. He loved to run in the mud and splash the puddles after spring showers. He never turned down an extra biscuit, and always was the first to say ‘Hello.’ Batman lived a joyous 13 years on Earth. Today I will honor Batman in my gratitude journal. 

Courage – Were you scared of monsters under the bed as a child? Do you have fears that interrupt your happiness? When I was younger, I had a fear of the dark. I kept a small night light by the door until I was 8. Courage is like a night light shining through your deepest fears. Today we honor our courage to choose happiness over fear. 

Nature – Whenever I am searching for serenity, I turn towards nature. Nature has so many ways of showing its grace and beauty. In the Fall, I love to collect the fallen leaves from the walking paths. In the Summer, I dry and press the budded flowers and place them by the frames of faces I love dearly. Today, we honor nature and the beauty it has given to us. 

Embracing Flaws – In many ways, we see our flaws as something that makes ugly on the inside and outside. Sometimes we want to hide them or pretend they are not there. Embracing your flaws brings power to your vulnerability. It allows you to see the truest forms of yourself and love them unconditionally. Today we honor our flaws and how they create our own unique beauty. 

Below are suggested library material on anxiety:

First, we make the beast beautiful: a new journey through anxiety by Sarah Wilson

Furiously Happy by Jenny Lawson

Broken (in the best possible way) by Jenny Lawson

The sun my heart: reflections on mindfulness, concentration, and insight by Thich Nhat Hanh

Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear by Elizabeth Gilbert

The Complete Decorated Journal: A Compendium of Journaling Techniques by Gwen Diehn

On Edge: A Journey Through Anxiety by Andrea Petersen

Group: How One Therapist and a Circle of Strangers Saved my Life by Christie Tate

Maybe You Should Take to Someone by Lori Gottlieb

Monkey Mind: A Memoir of Anxiety by Daniel Smith

Anna Marie Leach

Anna is a Public Service Associate at the Hebron Branch. She loves playing with her dog–Bear–going to the beach, playing board games, and reading graphic novels.