Written by QCMHA Events & Workshops Coordinator Marium Naqvi
I was in the second grade when my mom took me to the Dollar Store and asked me to pick out a notebook. I obviously picked out the purpliest, pinkest, shiniest one. When we came home, she sat me down and told me to write the date in the top right corner and list five things I was grateful for. As a seven years old, my list consisted of “umbrella to cover me from the rain, a bed so I can sleep, trees for paper, food to eat, and Insiya (my best friend).” This list still applies today! Since then, I’ve carried on the practice of gratitude journaling till now, in my second year of university.
Gratitude is such a powerful tool for positive thinking. Although I mentally take inventory of my blessings every day, I’ve found that writing them down on paper has a much more substantial impact. Last semester as I entered my room one day, I caught a glimpse of the gratitude list I had written on the whiteboard sitting on my desk a few days ago, and I froze in eerie shock. I was amazed at how these were things I had wished for just a few weeks ago, and now I was writing them down as blessings.
Unfortunately, things don’t always work out perfectly like that. Adversity is inevitable in life, and I know I’ll face all kinds of trials. I often remind myself that there is only so much in my control, and the best I can do is face obstacles with patience. This is easier said than done. Whenever I experience anxiety, I take a couple of deep breaths and run through my mind to figure out what I am feeling anxious about and which of those problems I can actually address. I also remind myself of everything going well in my life, which is where my gratitude journal comes into play.
However, self-care is a tricky line to balance. On the one hand, you need the discipline to care for your mind and body, and on the other hand, there’s an image of self-care involving candle-lit baths and doing whatever your heart desires! For practices like gratitude journaling, it can sometimes feel like a chore to keep up with it daily. To avoid burnout (and this is a general rule), make sure to listen to your body. If you’re not feeling your best, you could list a few things in your head or type them on your phone instead of pulling out a paper and pen.
I recommend gratitude journaling before bed, so you can let the positive thoughts marinate overnight, but as I said– listen to your body and do what you feel is right:)