Health, Minimalism, Uncategorized

How Gratitude Has Improved My Health

There are some experiments I often want to do on myself but I’m scared to see what the outcomes would be. Certain things like eating low-fat dairy, following a SAD diet, and running weekly thyroid labs while undergoing various life & diet changes are things I’m super curious about (but wouldn’t touch with a ten-foot pole). I know the outcomes would be bad for my health. Yet I wish I was well enough to experiment and show people first-hand how common aspects of the American lifestyle make an impact on health. One experiment I was willing to do was giving up my gratitude journal for a few weeks.
 
I started writing in a gratitude journal in October. I’ve had this set of gratitude pages in my planner from His Mercy Is New for the last year but I didn’t regularly write for a while. After reading One Thousand Gifts by Ann Voskamp, I decided to find more eucharisto in my daily life. I’ve been more focused on the mental/emotional/spiritual aspects of healing since my Hashimotos crash in the Fall. I know I have many root causes and I previously neglected the non-tangible aspects of health.
 
I was surprised by the impact daily gratitude journaling had on my health.
 
After daily journaling for several months, I decided this was an experiment I was willing to do. I stopped writing in my gratitude journal daily in February. After two months I’ve noticed profound changes in my health, emotions, and perceptions. Yes, there have been other stressors in my life & I don’t think all these changes are 100% connected to my lack of gratitude journaling. However, they’ve played a part. Many old tapes that played in my mind for years were being erased through my gratitude journal. Struggles I have dealt with for quite some time had gone away &are resurfacing. I’m eager to get back to gratitude journaling!
 

Since I STOPPED writing in my gratitude journal & prayer journal

 
  • I’m much less patient with the little things. Waiting on my son, helping an elderly friend, teaching my kid… smaller daily activities that hadn’t been bothering me are annoying me. I am finding myself very impatient and frustrated.
  • I don’t notice the little things. We’re farm sitting on this beautiful old farm at the start of Springtime right now. So many amazing, beautiful little things are all around me. As I’m writing this blog, I’m realizing I hardly notice them.
  • I am not praying as much. My prayer life hasn’t been great since I became a Mom. Writing in my gratitude journal & noticing little things brought me to prayer much more often. My prayers have been fewer and farther between.
  • I’m not as happy. Simple as that- I was experiencing a unique & deep joy from my daily journal practice.
  • I am so much less peaceful with where my life currently is. I’m finding myself complaining, stressing and anxious about life.
  • I don’t handle stress as well. This connects to everything above. I’m crabby & annoyed when I’m stressed instead of finding joy and gratitude about the things going on in my life.
  • I’m selfish. Selfishness is something I’ve always struggled with. It’s a tape that plays in my mind- maybe more from being an only child? Since I stopped writing in my gratitude journal I’ve noticed the tapes playing again of wanting people to do things for me, to notice me, appreciate me, etc. My thyroid isn’t as healthy. I had been showing very few thyroid symptoms at the turn of the new year. I’m experiencing a lot more symptoms in the last couple weeks. I think my lack of ability/willingness to handle stress is playing in to this.
 
Needless to say, I’ll be starting back up with my regular gratitude journaling. I also began prayer journaling after the New Year and am going to pick that back up again too. I’ll write again in a couple months and let you know what changes I have noticed since I began writing again.
 

In her book, Ann Voskamp talks about how she noticed joy, gratitude, beauty & God in countless things she never would have found them in before. I was experiencing this as well. Instead of whining about laundry, I was thanking God for clothes, now I’m whining about laundry again. I’m eager to get back to it!

 

My next challenge for you on our 40 day simplifying & minimalism journey is to begin a gratitude journal. Write 5-10 things each day that you are grateful for. Anything like “I’m grateful rush hour wasn’t bad”, “I’m grateful my kid put his shoes away”, or “I’m grateful for the beautiful budding trees.” See how it changes your life, mind and health. This will help you simplify your thoughts, make daily tasks less of a struggle & joy-filled, and help cut back on negative self-talk and clutter in your mind. Join me and share your journey with me in the comments- I can’t wait to hear how gratitude impacts your body, mind & spirit!

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