Journaling for Sadness: How Gratitude Journals and Daily Planners Increase Happiness

Although it's a very misunderstood emotion, we all experience sadness within our lives. Society often fosters a ‘stiff upper lip’ attitude to sadness. It's often associated with weakness, and we are encouraged to cover up painful emotions. 

Journaling is a great tool for allowing yourself to open up, uncover your feelings, and develop strategies to increase happiness.

What are the Benefits of Journaling For Sadness? 

There are many benefits to journaling for sadness. A journal is personal space to write your thoughts and feelings without holding back. Through this, you can examine your emotions in more detail

Through understanding your feelings, you can then take action to improve your mood. Sometimes the act of writing can be therapeutic and transformative in itself. The more you write about your feelings, the more you might discover the situation isn’t as negative as you initially felt. 

For example, gratitude journaling can shift your focus onto the positives in your life. This isn’t the same as dismissing your sadness, only recalibrating your brain to look at the full picture, reminding you of all you have to look forward to.

3 Tips for Using a Daily Planner for Journaling For Sadness

  • Make a plan

  • A daily planner structures the process of improving your mood, which makes it especially useful when journaling for sadness. Sometimes when you’re feeling low, it can feel like you don’t have a sense of direction. Set out a series of mood-boosting goals that you want to complete in your daily planner, with deadlines for each one. 

  • Be consistent

  • When using a daily planner, you need to be as consistent as possible in completing your goals. Journaling for sadness is no different. Each day, set yourself a short journaling session. Work carefully around your routines. A daily 15 minute session is more likely to increase the happiness factor than a 2 hour session once a month.

  • Keep your daily planner balanced

  • When journaling for sadness, it’s important for your daily planner to not become an extra source of sadness. Journaling needs to be an honest experience, and you shouldn’t shy away from writing about painful subjects if you need to. 

    At the same time, it can help to keep a good percentage of your journal focused on the positives. This helps to keep your mind on the future, and prevent you from slipping into negative thinking patterns.

    Uplifting Gratitude Journal Prompts for Journaling When Sad

  • Someone who has supported me through the hard times is…

  • When we experience challenging times, it can help to focus on a person who has made our life better. Picture that person clearly in your mind

    Start off by writing a strong happy memory you shared with them. Write about what you appreciate about them, and list the different ways they’ve impacted your life. 

    You can then go on to send them your feelings of gratitude. Thank them for their kindness and support in a short message, or even a longer letter, if you wish.

  • One thing I am grateful for about myself is…

  • Sometimes our sadness turns to our feelings about ourselves. You don’t just have to give gratitude to others, but also to yourself. What do you feel grateful for about yourself? 

    Maybe you have a skill or talent that not many people possess, a passion that has helped you through the darkness - writing, music, art or maths. Maybe you have a personal quality that you love - your kindness, generosity or resilience. Maybe there’s a moment in your life that you feel especially proud of. 

    If you’re feeling low, you might struggle to choose something at first, but through thinking it over carefully, this prompt can help you to see your inner strengths, and uncover what you want from your future. 

  • One positive thing that happened to me recently was…

  • When negativity surrounds you, it helps to put it into context. Write about a moment in the last few weeks that made you smile. Maybe it was an encounter with a stranger in the street, or a story your friend told you. It doesn’t matter if it’s a small or big moment. 

    Write about what you were doing when it happened. Go into as much detail as you can. What were the sounds, smells, sights? How did it make you feel? Take those positive feelings with you through the day.

    Remember that journaling is not a substitute for therapy. If your sadness persists, you should think about getting a referral to the local mental health services, as you could be at risk of depression. However, as a mood-boosting technique, gratitude journals and daily planners can help you to build resilience and self-understanding when journaling for sadness.

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