Thanksgiving has past, but the gratitude journaling practice you started or resumed in November doesn’t have to end now that the leftovers are almost gone and you’re getting into the full swing of the holiday season. Let that momentum carry you through the rest of the year, because gratitude is powerful for physical and emotional health, helping everything from sleep to relationships. And don’t worry if you missed out, these three unconventional ways to practice gratitude might just provide the push you need to finally get started.
1. Try audio gratitude journaling
One of the things I’ve been doing with my kids lately, as part of our Daily Mind Gym TM practice, is rotating in days where we list five things we’re grateful for. It’s a really fun exercise for any age, but young kids really get into it. Even though I usually try to write or type my personal gratitude journal, it’s nice to mix it up and do it out loud.
You can even do audio journaling a couple of different ways — out loud with another person, like I do with my kids, or keep an audio journal as voice memos on your phone or in a software like Evernote. You just create a note called “Gratitude Journal” and you can store a series of audio recordings mixed in with your text, creating a fun way to refer back to them later. Audio recordings are also a handy way to capture your gratitude on-the-go when things come to mind and your hard copy journal is nowhere in sight.
2. Take weekly gratitude walks
I’m all about efficiency, so I really like the double benefit of getting some movement into the day as well as doing some gratitude practice. Gratitude walking is a great way to tune in to mindful movement as well your surroundings and carries all of the benefits of walking and a gratitude practice all rolled into one.
Here again, there are two ways to take advantage of a walk from a gratitude standpoint. One way is to walk and think about the things in nature you’re grateful for (think sunshine, cloud formations, the sound of water flowing, colors, trees, etc.). The other way is to take the time to reflect on the things you’re grateful for in your life. Let your mind wander. Think from the simple to the complex, the people, the feelings, anything at all that you’re grateful for.
3. Make it personal with monthly ‘Thank You’ calls or notes
This is a big one. Smartphone usage and social media connect us in some ways, but distance us in others, taking time to connect in a more personal way can be a challenge, but comes with a potentially greater reward. This is a big one that I’m going to work on myself. It hit me recently when a friend’s father passed away. As I was writing his memorial messages online and thanking him for the kindness and example he offered me at a difficult time in my younger years, it occurred to me that I really wish I had delivered this message to him in person while I had the chance.
To make this habit stick, schedule a dedicated time each month to make a personal call or send a handwritten thank you note to someone who has been loving or kind to you in your life.
Gratitude journaling is a practice that will pay dividends in all year long, so keep your practice going beyond November. You’ll feel better, sleep better and maybe even make the day of some very special people in your life.
Originally published at medium.com