When you reflect on your day, what stands out the most? Is it the friendly stranger who complemented your new shoes or that angry driver who cut you off on the interstate? Chances are, it's the latter—because our brains are wired to latch onto the bad more than the good. Here is a method to boost your mental health by bringing those positive moments to the forefront.
It's as Easy as 1-2-3
Practice the "Three Good Things" journaling exercise daily.
- Jot down three positive experiences in a journal or notepad. It can be something as simple as a friendly chat with a neighbor.
- Ask yourself, "What went well, and how did I contribute to this?"
- For maximum results, try this exercise just before going to sleep—a time when our brains can better process and retain these memories longer.
How it Works
For survival, our brains are designed to powerfully respond to negative experiences. This alert system can be a lifesaver, but it can also intensify those negative experiences for those experiencing chronic stress and burnout. This journaling exercise won't negate or minimize life's rough patches, but it will bring those overlooked happier moments into focus and help you see the fuller picture of reality.
Are You Feeling the Burn?
Burnout caused by work and daily life stressors can make you vulnerable to a host of chronic illnesses. It's time to start putting pen to paper if you're experiencing any of these symptoms:
- Ongoing or overwhelming exhaustion
- Disconnection from yourself and others
- Feeling a sense of no meaning or purpose
- Increased cynical thoughts
- Sense of inefficacy or lack of accomplishment
Stick with It
Carve out some time each day for a few minutes of journaling—and stay consistent. Just two weeks of journaling can have lasting feel-good effects extending from six months to a year.