gratitude journaling, does it really work? getting out of anxiety and sadness

Somedays, I don’t wake up feeling my best. Maybe I didn’t have the best sleep; maybe I have certain plans/things to do that day that make me anxious which I can’t help but first think about upon waking; maybe my muscles simply feel tight; or maybe there’s no reason at all.

On these days, I’d force myself to do some gratitude journaling, and to journal about my emotions. But, I sometimes question myself: “can’t I just be ok with not feeling ok instead of wanting to immediately pull myself up? Why can’t I just feel what I feel? Why am I giving myself a hard time for feeling off?”

I think part of it is because at some point last year, I allowed myself to feel everything, every ounce of anxiety and sadness and depressing feelings I was feeling without trying to regulate it, understand it. It ended up pushing me down this hole of anxiety, where I could also feel my depression creeping up, I went to sleep and woke up day after day with a pounding heart, I lost my appetite for food, for jokes, for laughter and fun. I lost lots of weight, my skin became covered in acne, my eyes were dark, and my face just appeared dull and almost pale.

In that state of mind, my view of the world was completely distorted, I could only focus on my sadness, almost as if the colours in my life have gone pale, much less vibrant. Even when I have a good meal, have my friends or family show me love, I couldn’t really feel much warmth.

That was painful.

That’s why I’m so afraid to go down that path again, I’m so scared of it. I’m so scared of not seeing the goodness, not seeing the beautiful, vibrant colors in this world. So whenever I am feeling “off”, I would acknowledge this emotion, but still choose to look at the brighter side of things, all the things that are going “good” in my life, all the beautiful things.

Focusing on the things that deserve my gratitude heals my distorted, negative mind and thoughts, bringing balance back to my mind, to not sway to the extremes of my sadness.

That is the power of gratitude journaling. I come to see that there is so much to be happy about, so much to be thankful for, so much to life. It helps me see life as something filled with so much positives, positive potential. I’d much rather be experiencing all these things than to be in complete darkness, complete nothingness if that is how death is envisioned.

Now, I do gratitude journaling every day when I first wake up in the morning. It makes me feel like my day is already immediately filled with lots of positives, with the potential of more positivity unravelling throughout the day. Gratitude journaling makes me deliberately ponder on the things I am grateful for or should be grateful for.

Eventually, I became more “instinctively” grateful towards many things if that makes sense. What I mean is, it makes me appreciate all ranges of things in my life — the sensation of drinking water, the way it glides down my dry croaky throat upon waking; the way the light breeze weaves through the plants outside my window, which makes them sway seemingly happily from left to right; my mum’s warmth when I give her a morning hug; my ability to see colours; the way a morning stretch makes me loosen up my muscles, my joints, makes me feel elongated (ok this sounds weird but it feels great); the relief of letting out all the fluids in my insanely expanded bladder after a full night’s sleep. This list can go on and on and on.

But my point is, life is freaking beautiful ok and there’s actually lots to be grateful for. Even if life seems like shit right now, this crappiness is not fixed or static. All bad things come to an end. The future is filled with lots of positive potentials, and what we do in the present can very much determine that.

Why manifest more sadness by focusing on the bad stuff when your life already feels crappy enough to you? stop it, look at the good stuff that are still happening, manifest for good things to happen. Also lastly, the mind see things that they want to see.

‘Scotomisation‘ is the psychological tendency in people to see what they want to see and not see what they don’t want to see – in situations, in themselves, in anything, even in a painting – due to the psychological impact that seeing (or not seeing) would inflict” — the Da Vinci code, from the register

^ that’s cool right? Essentially, we shape our own reality, we get to choose the emotions we want to feel. We actually all have the ability to control our emotions, rather than have it control us.

One way we can control our view of the world is gratitude journaling 🙂

With love,

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