Self Care Habits

Your Guide to Gratitude Lists

Someone writing in a journal, one of the 12 steps to self care

Starting a gratitude list can be a really helpful habit to get into. It helps you reflect on what you’re thankful for, and can give you a valuable resource to look back over when you’re feeling lost or overwhelmed. 

A gratitude list or daily gratitude journal can also be a great way to support your other self care efforts, and help your wellbeing and mental health. Plus, it’s a lovely way to introduce some quiet time to the busyness of our everyday routines.

Let’s take a look at gratitude lists in more detail. What are they? Why are they worth writing? And what should we write down, anyway?

What is a gratitude list?

A gratitude list is a place to note down all the things you’re grateful or thankful for. Think of it as a running list of thankfulness that you can look back over and feel uplifted, inspired, and grateful. 

You could write a short gratitude list daily, weekly, monthly or whenever inspiration strikes. It’s totally up to you. You could also stack it with other habits and self care ideas as part of a morning routine or self care menu – like writing a list of things to do, or planning your day. 

Some people like to expand on their gratitude list and write in a gratitude journal instead. Here you can expand on your short list and attitude of gratitude even further, and express gratitude in more depth. Gratitude journals often have prompts to help you think about what to write.

What are the benefits of gratitude lists or journals?

It seems like an obvious choice that we should want to practice gratitude, and many of us do through our everyday actions and messages with others. If you want to take it a step further, there are lots of great reasons to start a gratitude list or journal.

Here are a few of my favorite reasons to start a gratitude journal or list:

  • Help you focus in on the positives
  • Remind you of what you’ve achieved and experienced
  • Give you another tool to help you develop a positive mindset
  • Create healthy habits around gratitude and giving
  • Encourage positive emotions at the start/end of your day
  • Make you feel a sense of relief or comfort at writing things down
  • Give you a sense of and desire to pursue personal growth

You might find other benefits of writing a gratitude list or starting a gratitude journal. For example, you might find it calming or that it helps you to focus. It could also help you realise what you value most, and lead to a lightbulb moment about your career, relationships, or goals. 

What do you need to get started?

The great thing about gratitude lists is that you don’t need anything complicated to get started. All you need is somewhere to keep your notes and something to take them with. 

Here are a few different ways you could record your gratitude list: 

  • Pen and paper – in a notebook, or using a gratitude journal printable 
  • On your phone – using a notes app or Google Docs 
  • On your computer – using a document or online tool like Notion

It helps to keep your gratitude list separate from other lists and notes. That way you can easily flick back through them when you want to. A gratitude list can be the perfect excuse to start a fresh notebook.

Woman writing a gratitude list in a diary

Gratitude list tips and tricks

Starting anything new can feel overwhelming. It’s even more so when you’re not used to writing down all the positive things that have happened, or the things that you’re thankful for. To help you figure things out faster, here are some great gratitude list tips and tricks. 

Make it a regular habit 

Add your gratitude list into one of your routines on a daily basis to help it stick faster. Do it as soon as you get up, or as part of a wind down evening routine. If weekly is more your thing, a Sunday can work great as you plan for the week ahead. 

Turn your gratitude exercise into a self care activity 

Treat yourself to a new notebook and pen, or download a new app to help you stay focused. Settle down with a glass of clean water or a cup of tea, and take five minutes or so to write things down. If you’re stuck on what to write, try starting with a gratitude affirmation.

Keep it simple

Don’t put pressure on yourself to write paragraphs. Keep it simple if you prefer, and write just a few words or use bullet points. Other times you might find the words just keep flowing, so don’t set limits or be strict on yourself. Like any habit or hobby, you’ll have good days and hard times, so keep things easy.

Hold your lists in one place 

Keep everything in one place so it’s really easy to look back on what you’ve felt grateful for. A bullet journal or simple notebook works great, or you could pick up a gratitude journal from a local store or Amazon. This can be a great way to feel better if you’re having a challenging moment. 

Expand your writing habit 

If you enjoy writing a gratitude list, think about expanding your writing habit further. Start writing a gratitude journal, or try writing freely about whatever comes to mind. You could also consider writing a more traditional journal, or turning to blogging or freelance writing. 

Things to be grateful for – writing prompts for your gratitude list

Not sure what to write on your gratitude list? You’re definitely not alone! Here are some writing prompts to help you out. 

You could try writing about… 

  • People you’re grateful to know 
  • Possessions you’re grateful to have
  • Feelings you’re grateful to experience 
  • Memories you’re grateful for 
  • Experiences and opportunities you’re thankful for 
  • Friends, best friends, and loved ones you’re grateful for 
  • Small things you’re grateful for that make daily life easier
  • Skills you’re grateful for 
  • Challenges you’re thankful you’ve succeeded at 

These are just ideas to get you started. You could choose a different category each day, or be guided by whatever feels right for you. 

Start a gratitude list today 

Ready to get reflective? Pick up a pen and paper or open up your notes app and start writing down what you’re grateful for. It doesn’t have to be a long list, but just getting started really helps.

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