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“Not everyday is a good day. But there is good in every day.” -Author Unknown
Long post alert… Sorry, not sorry! Because, if you’re like me and struggle with depression, it can often feel like the sun doesn’t shine or things will never get better. Sometimes it can feel like I’m drowning in an ever-mounting pool of stress, with no lifeguard on duty.
When I find myself in a moment like this I picture the young kids learning how to float and remember that I too can float! Just like the kids, I picture myself flipping onto my back in the pool, and with the sun shining down on my face, I stick out my chin, take a breath, and relax in a happy place until I can figure out how to float over to a ladder to pull myself out.
For me, that happy place was found in a gratitude journal.
I’ll be honest… Committing to a month of gratitude journaling was almost too much for me. I didn’t want to do it. What’s the point? How is writing in a journal going to pull me out of a really low place? But, truth be told, I wouldn’t be writing this if it didn’t work for me. Just taking 5-10 minutes to look for the good in every day for 30 days pulled me out of my downward spiral. WHO KNEW!? Now I use this challenge when life gets tough, or I hit a depression slump for a few days. It’s like maintaining a car. You are the car, and this challenge is an oil-change/tune-up.
At the beginning of this challenge, I could only find BIG things in my day that I was grateful for. But, as the challenge went on, I found myself appreciating the small things too.
There were a few days during this challenge where I struggled to be able to pick up my pen to find the good. I specifically remember one day where I had been berated by an older male customer at the restaurant. I couldn’t shake his negativity that day. So, I skipped the journal entry FOR THAT DAY. The next morning, after I was out of the funk he pushed me in, I was able to regroup and find the good that happened that day, like finding a $10 bill in my tip jar.
For me, allowing myself the option to skip one day, if absolutely necessary, made this challenge more manageable and it actually kept me inspired to keep going in the challenge.
This helps for days when you feel overwhelmed. I know for me, having something buzz me out of whatever I’m caught up in can help me refocus on what I need to do. In this case, journal and get happy!
You don’t need much for this challenge. Just a journal, a pen, and 30 minutes- which can be broken up throughout the day! (ie. 10 mins here, 15 minutes there, 5 minutes later on.) I like to do it all at once because it feels more grounding. But sometimes life allows for 15 minutes in the morning and 15 minutes after work. Remember you’re doing this to feel better. So do what you need to do to let this challenge encourage that!
Day 1: Name 3 new things that you are grateful for when you wake up. Do this every day for 29 more days.
Day 2: Write down 1 meaningful thing that happened to you in the last 24 hours. Continue this for 28 more days.
Day 3: Reach out to someone you know and praise them for anything you can think of. (New mom rocking the messy bun and no-sleep look? Tell her! A friend just get a promotion? Congratulate them!) Do this via email, handwritten note, or call, it feels better for both parties! Jot down who you reached out to and why in your journal to hold yourself accountable. Continue this for 27 more days.
Day 4: Start incorporating *at least* 15 minutes of cardio into your day. This will help your body release endorphins. Write down what you did and keep doing this for 26 more days.
Day 5: Start meditating for 5 min/day. This can be as simple as 5 minutes of sitting or laying down, focus on breathing and attempting to clear your mind. If you’re new to meditation, maybe you want to try a guided version*. Use headphones for less outside noise distractions. I put a little meditation tracker in each journal entry so that I can check it off and hold myself accountable. Continue your new meditation practice for 25 more days.
That’s all there is. I personally hit a low point at the end of March and will be doing this challenge again in April. If you want someone to help you be accountable, let me know! I’m happy to send out an email or shoot you a reminder text!
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Also, I am creating playlists for workouts, meditations, mood-boosts, and more. Amazon Music Unlimited will be the way to access them! More on this later!