My Experience With Gratitude & The Five Minute Journal

As some of you may know, corporate wellness is a big part of what we do at HEAL. Several times throughout the year we run a Wellness Challenge with offices across Canada challenging participants to adopt healthy habits relating to things like improving energy, digestion, sleep, movement and reducing stress.

One of the perks of the challenge is that every week the top teams and individuals get prizes. We partner with some of our favourite brands and products in order to be able to offer these prizes each year. One of our new prize partners this year was Intelligent Change, the creators of The Five Minute Journal.

Below, Natalia, our Community Manager and a Holistic Nutritionist at HEAL, explains the logic behind The Five Minute Journal. Natalia completed the journal for one month (and counting) and we thought it might be helpful for her to share her experience with you. Enjoy!

What is The Five Minute Journal?

If you aren’t familiar with it, The Five Minute Journal is a journal you complete every day with short exercises to help you develop a more positive outlook, become more mindful and live with more intention.

Gratitude exercises have been around for quite some time, and you don’t need the journal to do them, but The Five Minute Journal simplifies it in an actionable format. You fill out the morning routine questions when you wake up and then complete the night routine questions before bed.

Each page of the journal consists of the following:

Morning routine:

  1. An inspirational quote.
  2. Space to list three things you’re grateful for.
  3. Space to list three things that would make the day great.
  4. Space for your daily affirmations. An affirmation is a statement of what you want in your life. An example they use in the book is “I am confident and comfortable in my own skin” or “I earn $100,000/year.”

Night routine:

  1. Space to list three amazing things that happened that day.
  2. Space to write what could have made the day better.

What’s assuring is that the science behind these exercises is pretty sound. Practicing gratitude has been proven to improve everything from physical and psychological health, relationships, sleep and self-esteem, to enhance empathy while reducing aggression.

Envisioning the things that would make the day great and affirmations of what you want in your life, actually help to rewire your brain to see what you can do to improve your well-being and achieve your goals. Unfortunately, much of what we say or think is negative. Positive affirmations of who you want to be and what you want to achieve begin to chip away at these negative, self-limiting thoughts and prime your brain to start building this belief in your mind. Reflecting at the end of the day helps to evaluate what things or thoughts crept into your day and held you back from achieving these goals or maintaining a positive outlook.

My Experience With The Five Minute Journal

I’m someone who loves the idea of gratitude exercises, and definitely think that cultivating a much more positive outlook of even the small things has helped me better manage stress and overcome anxiety. Yet, I’ve never been able to turn it into a consistent part of my routine. It’s the same thing with meditation, goal setting, manifestation, etc. They’re all things you hear about successful people doing, but it was always something I had a hard time consistently adopting and something to leave for future Natalia to tackle.

I love that the journal is a physical reminder to set your intentions and your attitude for the day. The biggest thing I’ve noticed is that on the days I take the time to really think about the questions in the journal, my days unfold with much more intention. As someone who works from home, sometimes I get out of bed, check my to-do list, and start working. Other times I don’t feel quite so accomplished. Before I realize how the day has unfolded it’s already past noon. This has helped me really plan out my day, prioritize my to-do list (both personal and professional) and then reflect on the day and how it was great or how it could have been better. I haven’t figured out the perfect formula but I definitely feel like it’s helped.

As someone who has never written a journal, other than maybe at summer camp, I wasn’t ever really sure what I would write. The great thing about this is the questions are laid out for you, helping you get directly to the point, if you will, in under five minutes. Some days I’m in a big hurry and I’ll just jot down the first few things that come to my mind. Other days, if I have more time, I sit there and really reflect on the questions.

It’s also helped to spark a new set of questions and deeper digging. For example, I start to explore my daily affirmations and the things that would make the day great, and think about the steps I need to take to get there. I start to think more about long term goals and how these affirmations might change over time.

If you’re interested in trying out the journal, but like me, you’ve never used it before and you aren’t great at adopting new habits, I have a few recommendations. Firstly, keep it somewhere you’ll remember to use it. I like having it on my bedside table so I do it first thing in the morning and before bed. I even recommend creating daily calendar reminders for yourself so you don’t forget. Lastly, ditch perfectionism. The Five Minute Journal isn’t all or nothing. If you forget to use it one day or several days, or forget to write in it until later in the day, it’s still helpful. It’s never too late to adopt a new habit.

Now, could I have done these questions without the journal? Of course. But would I have? Probably not. If you don’t want to carry around the physical journal, you can also download The Five Minute Journal App. If you’re like me and you tend to ignore a lot of app notifications, you’ll likely benefit from having the physical journal.

Click here to learn more about The Five Minute Journal.

*This post was written in partnership with Intelligent Change but the opinions are my own.

Sources: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7

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