I like to journal. I have one for each child, for myself and for lecture/sermon notes. I have a grateful journal that I occasionally write down all the blessings I experience during certain times in my life as well as a daily journal that I try to write one or two sentences in nightly. That might sound stressful, and it has been at times. But I have found that when I do journal, it is a very therapeutic way to get out my feelings and it’s productive because I am able to go back later and see that I survived both the good and the bad. But there are lessons – What did I learn? How did I grow? Those times that I thought were stressful, now seem light-hearted compared to the last eleven months. But looking at old journals, I can see I should be grateful for so many things, big and small.

When schools closed in March of 2020, we gave our kids – then K, 2nd, and 4th graders – each a composition notebook and had them write just a few sentences in it every other day. Honestly, it was great for them to practice handwriting since everything went digital; but it was also a place they could privately release frustration. I never thought they would still be writing 11 months later. But here we are, now 1st, 3rd, and 5th graders, writing in the same journal. I am glad we started this practice at such a young age as they now have an outlet for the craziness they are experiencing. And it’s something they can do whether in quarantine or digital or face to face. I hope one day they will be able to look back and see what they experienced and how far they came.

I don’t journal every day. But when I do sit down and make the time, it opens up more space in my head to focus on important things instead of minutia wrestling for my attention. Journaling is so simple that anyone, at any age, can enjoy the exercise. Furthermore, it’s a great form of stress relief that does not require a ton of money or ability. And while physical exercise is an excellent stress reliever, it may not always be possible due to weather or physical limitations. You can always write in a paper journal or on a device – maybe you jot down your thoughts for the day; maybe you write out conversations that you keep having in your head; maybe you just draw a smiley face.

Studies show that people who keep a gratitude journal have increased health benefits. Imagine what choosing to be grateful could do for your overall outlook and mental health. Explore ideas for journaling and being grateful at projecthappiness.org/scienceof-happiness. Writing down where you are eventually becomes where you have come from. I want to forget 2020 and never look back. But we need to look back so we can move forward. Simply jotting down a few things to be grateful for from 2020 can remind us during future trials that there is always a silver lining.

Stay healthy my friends. Just keep movin’. Write now so you can remember and rejoice later.


         Ashley Saunders

Article written by Ashley Saunders, Health & Wellness Chair, East Cobb County Council of PTAs

>> This article was originally published on page 10 in the EAST COBBER March/April issue. <<