Hi everyone! Is anyone else having a rough week mentally? I know that February is one hard month to get through when you have Seasonal Affective Disorder, but I feel like this week is dragging along more than usual right now! One thing that I try to do when I’m feeling less than thrilled about getting out for a run in the cold and dark February evenings is step up my gratitude practice. This is a relatively new practice for me, but ever since it started getting darker in the fall and I began getting more involved in yoga classes I’ve been noticing a huge difference in my overall mood and motivation level when I take time to practice gratitude each day. Practicing gratitude is proven to make you feel happier, more motivated, and more aware of the positive things in your life, and all of these things are essential for runners who are always chasing PRs and pushing through tough training runs. If you’ve never tried it before, here are five small things you can do this week to practice gratitude:
Express gratitude as it happens: This one is so common sense that it shouldn’t even be on the list, but think about it – how often do we actually do this? When was the last time you actually shared your gratitude in the moment? If your running buddies show up to run with you on a particularly cold and snowy day, let them know how much that means to you (maybe with post-run coffee?). Thank your non-runner significant other for putting up with you signing up for yet another race and for supporting your running goals. And maybe send a tweet to your favorite running brands when their products are amazing so you can let them know how much you love them! Once you make this a regular habit you’ll be more inclined to see the good in everything that happens during your day, even when things don’t exactly go your way.
Focus on the positive in every run: When you’re in the middle of a long or difficult run – especially in the winter – you may be inclined to only notice how cold, tired, and miserable you are. But taking time to notice all the amazing things going on during your run will help you become more grateful for each and every moment that you’re running out there. I like to focus on the beautiful scenery, the awesome people I’m running with, the calming effects of running after a tough day, and just the overall feeling of being able to run pain-free. Maybe the only thing you’re grateful for on a run is that it ends, and even then it’s something worth celebrating.
Remember to thank your body after a workout: As a recovering runner going through all the #recoveringrunnerproblems, this one is so incredibly important for me! After each run, I do a short yoga routine that ends in a long, grateful child’s pose where I spend time thanking my body for being able to run again. I’ve also started doing this in yoga classes after savasana and in workout classes as we’re in the final stretching moments at the end of class. Each workout is something I’m grateful for because I know how it feels to not be able to do what I love.
Step away from social media: How often have you logged onto social media just to realize minutes (or hours) later that you’re sitting there comparing yourself to others? It’s so easy to do this in the blogging world, but guess what: you are awesome and unique, and if you spent half as much time telling yourself that as you do mindlessly scrolling through Facebook reading about other peoples’ workouts, I can guarantee that you’d be a lot more grateful for your life. Try to go social media free during lunch breaks, during dinner, or maybe after a certain time of night (like 8 pm). See if that makes a difference in how grateful you become for the people and things in your own life!
Write in a daily gratitude journal: This is my newest way to practice gratitude, but it’s my favorite too! I find it hard to just make lists in a journal of what I’m thankful for each day – sometimes I can’t push past the obvious (like being grateful that I can run at all!), the same topics (oh you know, running) or I just don’t feel motivated to do it after a while. That’s why I was really excited to try out the Instant Happy Journal by Karen Salmansohn!
It’s a small book with 365 short writing prompts to help inspire you to find gratitude and happiness each day. The dates are left blank, so you can write in the book however you want – either in chronological order, or by choosing whatever prompt speaks to you that day. I’ve been going in order and have noticed that each prompt ends up being exactly what I need each day!
The prompts include inspirational quotes, reflection questions, list-writing, and questions that are meant to get you thinking about who you are, how your brain works, and how you can feel happier each day.
I personally like to write in mine at night before I go to bed as a way to reflect on my day, but some people like to write in it after they wake up to set their intention for the day. I’ve been writing in mine since the beginning of February (this is my monthly goal!) and I find that I already look forward to it each day. It’s fun seeing what prompt I’ll get each day when I open the book! It’s definitely more fun than just writing a list in a notebook. Plus, it’s really cute both inside and out.
I liked mine so much that I actually just bought one for my sister because she’s been feeling kind of down lately. I know that a gratitude practice can be so helpful but so hard to get into, and this book is a really easy and fun way to get started. I’m looking forward to hear how the book works for her! As for me, I definitely have to admit that most of what I’ve written so far is about running and living in Alaska. I guess that wasn’t too hard to guess if you read my blog! I’m hoping that as the year goes on I’ll get to uncover many more things that I’m grateful for each day.
How do you practice gratitude as a runner? Do you have a gratitude journal, and if so, what do you use?
Note: I received this book from the Blogging for Books program in exchange for this honest review. Any additional books purchased were done with my own money because I liked the product so much!