Near the end of the past school year, I wrote a post about practicing teacher self-care. It turned into a popular post, so I thought I’d follow it up with this post on practicing gratitude. I’d like to introduce my new Teacher Gratitude Journal, with prompts!
How to Practice Gratitude (even when it feels like there’s nothing to be grateful for)
It’s easy to practice gratitude when things are going smoothly and you’re feeling good. Finding things to be grateful for each day adds to your overall feeling of contentment and happiness, which makes it even easier to be grateful.
But, what about when things AREN’T going so smoothly? How do you practice gratitude when you can barely get out of bed in the morning?
I’m going to share a personal story about how I learned to practice gratitude in the worst period of my life.
Eleven years ago I was going through a horrible time. My 28-year marriage was falling apart, my mom was very sick, and I had a rough year teaching. The freshman class that year was particularly “behaviorally challenged.” It felt like all aspects of my life were in shambles, and I fell down a dark hole into clinical depression.
Teaching is a hard enough job as it is … but add depression to it and it becomes almost impossible. Most mornings it was all I could do to drag myself out of bed. To say I was not at my best as a teacher is putting it mildly.
My friends were concerned, of course. Knowing how much I love planners, journals, and notebooks, one of them gave me a beautiful journal with a special pen. She suggested I start writing down 3 things each day that I was grateful for. I thanked her and set it aside thinking, “Yeah, right … like THAT’s gonna help. I don’t even HAVE 3 things to be grateful for.”
But I kept thinking about it. A few days later I grabbed that special pen and journal and wrote down one thing that I was grateful for that day. One thing was all I could muster. But the fact that I could even write that much surprised me. I decided to keep trying.
So I did. And it started to get easier because I realized my 3 things didn’t have to be major events … acknowledging even small happenings during my day could count. Something like “I’m grateful that I saw a cardinal at our bird feeder today” was all it needed to be.
Some days it was sooo hard to come up with 3 things. But I challenged myself to do it. I kept sticky notes with me so I could jot things down as they happened. After a few weeks, I was able to write more than 3 things on some days. It actually surprised me that I could do this … that I did have things to be grateful for.
Did this practice magically cure my depression? Of course not. It took meds, counseling, and a lot of hard work to do that. But it HELPED. And I continue to practice gratitude today.
Turns out there are scientific studies to support this. Practicing gratitude actually rewires your brain into more positive thinking.
The Once A Day Teacher Gratitude Journal With Prompts
It occurred to me that there were probably many others who could also benefit from this. And I wanted to help my fellow teachers who are struggling, especially now. With that in mind, I was inspired to create The Once A Day Teacher Gratitude Journal – Find Your Joy.
There are plenty of gratitude journals out there. And of course, you can always just use a blank notebook. But it helps to have a special, dedicated place to practice gratitude. But I created this one specifically for teachers.
Each page has prompts to jot down the best moment, something that made you smile, what you’re grateful for, and how the overall day was. There are also inspiring and motivational quotes, and on the back of each day’s page, there is a whole page for notes or anything else you might want to include. There are also 5 mandala coloring pages to help with stress relief. I’ve started using it myself instead of just a blank notebook.
I’ve also given it to some of my teacher friends.
If you think this might help you or someone you know, go check it out on Amazon. If you do start to use it, I truly hope that it helps you as much as it helped me. I wish you all the best!