The following post is from our Recovery-Centered Clinical System (RCCS) Tidbit of the Month series. Each month, the RCCS Steering Committee creates practices to support our recovery culture within our programs and among staff. Click here to learn more about the RCCS.
A Component of Reducing Harm Conversation of the RCCS
Gratitude is important in maintaining our resilience and our ability to manage extreme emotions. While much of our work in recovery is about making changes and learning new skills, we know that making commitments to our wellness should also include reflecting on the present and noticing things in our life we feel grateful for.
Practicing gratitude has shown numerous benefits to our overall health:
Emotional: more relaxed; more good feelings; increased resilience
Social: increased kindness; more friends; healthier relationships
Personality: heightened self-esteem; more spiritual
Health: improved sleep; increased energy; live longer
Career: improved decision making; increased productivity
One way to regularly incorporate gratitude is through a gratitude journal. It doesn’t have to be daily — but routinely carving out dedicated time for yourself a few times a week folds into the many benefits of gratitude journaling.
There’s no wrong way to keep a gratitude journal, but here are some general instructions as you get started.
At least once a week, take 15 minutes to journal.
Write down up to five things for which you feel grateful. Don’t just think it — write it!
Writing it down and having a physical record is important. The things you list can be relatively small in importance (“The tasty sandwich I had for lunch yesterday”) or relatively large (“My sister gave birth to a healthy baby.”)
The goal of the exercise is to remember a good event, experience, person, or thing in your life—then enjoy the good emotions that come with it.
As you write, here are some tips adapted from UC Berkeley’s Greater Good Magazine:
Be as specific as possible. For example: “I am grateful that my coworkers assisted me with the member who called late yesterday”, vs. “I am grateful for my coworkers.”
Get personal. For example, focusing on people has more impact than focusing on things.
Subtracting, not just adding. Consider the negative outcomes you avoided or prevented, not just the positive things or people that were added to your life.
See good things as gifts. Thinking of good things as gifts guards against us taking things for granted.
Include surprises. Record things that were unexpected, as these tend to elicit stronger levels of gratitude.
Write regularly. Commit to a regular time to journal (every week or every other day)
Don’t overdo it! Writing just one to three times a week is more beneficial than journaling every day.