How a Gratitude Journal Gets You Through Athletic Slumps (+ Best Practices)

by | Feb 3, 2021 | Mindset

We’ve talked a lot about gratitude and gratitude journalling both on the podcast and here on the website, but I wanted to put it into a super micro / daily level example of why getting into the gratitude journal habit can make a huge impact on your workouts. We know that bad workouts happen, and we know that there are a lot of ways to shift out of feeling like a bad workout really is a bad workout. But I’ve noticed since I started doing a daily gratitude journal, I have fewer and fewer bad workout moments, and those I do have are fewer and farther between. The same applies to how I feel about minor illnesses and injuries, annoyances around the house, and bad days at work.

Now, obviously I don’t think a gratitude journal can change your mood entirely—nor should it, since I think it’s important that we all actually let ourselves feel bummed out or angry rather than trying to pretend that we never feel anything but happy. But I’ve noticed since I’ve been more focused on gratitude journalling, the moments of positive thinking far outweigh the negative ones, and I get out of bad moods faster.

It sounds weird at first, but bear with me: The idea of keeping a gratitude journal is that you then become more in the habit of practicing gratitude and feeling gratitude, and it makes your mind sort of re-orient to seeing the positive in things rather than the negative. So if an interval is feeling super hard, rather than thinking that you just suck at riding bikes, your default thinking is now, ‘wow, this interval is hard, and it’s pretty cool that I can push myself like this.’

I also had a minor tweak in my neck last week, and even my ultra-positive coach pointed out that I must be feeling bummed about it. But while sure, it sucked and was pretty frustrating for a couple days, it was also a good reminder to appreciate the fact that 99.9% of the time, my neck is fine. Mood = shifted.

The same applied to skiing with Peter—I got irritated when I was falling behind, but when I realized I was just fuming to myself (and OK, a little to him), I started to think about all of the things I was grateful for in the moment: Skiing outside in the sunshine, being able to ski on the road because we had good snow, having access to skis, the fact that we were 5 minutes from a croissant stop… Pretty quickly, my grump shifted (or at least, dialed way back).

Now, I’ve done a lot of different journalling practices over the years, and I recently did a really focused 31 days of gratitude journalling with prompts and daily homework outside of simple listing. That felt like a bit too much, though it was a really good kickstart. (Warning: This is HIGH LEVEL of cheese factor but if you do want that kickstart, check out The Magic.) After all of those different practices, here’s where I’ve landed:

My best tips for keeping a gratitude journal:

  1. Do it first thing. I don’t do it right when I wake up, but I do it right as I’m heading ‘into work,’ so when I sit down at my desk for the day.
  2. Don’t make it precious or pretty. I love the idea of bullet journaling and having a gorgeous product, but I also know I won’t get it done if it needs to look a certain way.
  3. List 10-15 things you’re grateful for, focusing on the micros (you can start with some macros if you need to, but get as specific and sensitive as possible). I also like trying to make one of those things finding the gratitude in something that could be negative, i.e with Ontario’s current lockdown, being thankful we have DW to keep us occupied.
  4. Start each line with “I’m thankful for” or “I’m grateful for” instead of just listing things. This was a tip from The Magic that I loved, since it makes you actually think and feel that gratitude in a deeper way.
  5. Read the list over when you’re finished. (This is the part I never did before but I really like quickly rereading it, it makes you feel super abundant—sometimes, I’ve noticed that I was almost writing on autopilot, but once I reread each thing I wrote, I really thought about it.)


We talk more about gratitude journalling and other journalling practices in our new book, Becoming A Consummate Athlete, for tons of easy habits to add to your life to make big changes, or book a call with us to talk through some changes you could make that will make the biggest impact on your health and fitness!


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