Embracing Gratitude as A Busy Mom

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READING TIME: 5 min.

gratitude journal for momsI’m the mom who’s always running — running out the door in the morning, running between meetings, furiously trying to leave work on time, apologizing to my toddler for picking him up late [again] — running between the two halves of my world.

In my work life, I focus on supporting others in their health and wellness journeys. I excel at boosting morale, breaking through barriers, and helping others be their best self. At work, I feel like I’m my best self.

Yet in my personal life, I always feel like something is missing. Part of me knows I need to stress less and relax more, yet the thought of relaxing feels stressful. Ironically, being a mom isn’t stressful; my mind is what gets me. Adulting can be funny like that.

World Gratitude Day

I recently learned World Gratitude Day is September 21, my birthday. I’d never really thought about what “gratitude” means, but I was suddenly curious. Entering my mid-30s certainly has me looking at my life and wondering what’s next. The last year has been a rollercoaster personally and professionally, and I never made the time to let everything sink in. The duality of my birthday and World Gratitude Day felt like a sign to do some soul searching.

Researching World Gratitude Day me realize I express appreciation daily but fall short on gratitude. I’m also most at ease when I feel grateful.

Appreciation v. Gratitude

So, what is the difference between gratitude and appreciation? Gratitude is a feeling whereas appreciation is a cognitive act, a thought. I’ve been using the terms “appreciation” and “gratitude” interchangeably for years and never considered they may be inherently different.

From a practical perspective, expressing appreciation is part of the gratitude process. Saying thank you is the acknowledgment that we recognize the value in something or someone. Simply put, when we act on a thought that shows we value something, we’re showing appreciation. When we feel thankful and appreciative, we’re referring to gratitude.

What I’m Doing this Year

Despite making a greater effort to manage stress and relax more in recent months, I knew there was more I could be do. The last 365 days have been filled with major wins and losses. Some days I’m full of joy and excitement, other days I feel sadness and shock. Knowing mental and emotional stress is directly linked to physical health, I decided to embrace World Gratitude Day and my birthday by focusing on gratitude.

As someone who’s great at “losing myself” in books, I considered journaling to focus on practicing gratitude and helping myself be more at ease. So, I did what every millennial mom does . . . I Googled. Amidst the many mindfulness journals online was The 6-Minute Diary. I liked that the journal was designed with short prompts that highlight the positives. The accompanying daily quotes felt like a bonus — I love inspirational quotes — so I ordered a copy.

The 6-Minute Diary

Even after the book arrived, I was hesitant to start. I wasn’t sure I’d have anything to write, or if I could be consistent enough to make the effort worthwhile. Thankfully, The 6-Minute Diary is more than just a journal. The introduction is motivational, witty, and packed with tips to make journaling tangible. The weekly reviews are thought-provoking yet lighthearted.

I’m a few weeks into my gratitude journey, and so far, it’s worth the investment. My consistency isn’t 100%; I’ve forgotten a few days or been in a rush for work. Most days, three minutes twice per day is easily doable.

The big question is, of course, is it working? To my surprise, yes! Writing down three things I’m grateful for and how I’ll make the day great truly starts my day on a better note. The 6-Minute Diary instructs you to be specific with journals, which helps generate content and record memories. At the end of the week, I relive some amazing moments and feel that joy a little deeper. The weekly prompts help me look at the bigger picture and identify areas for improvement.

What’s Next?

Reading up on World Gratitude Day made me think twice about always looking forward. The 6-Minute Diary is helping me recognize and connect with what’s in front of me. I’m feeling the positives more deeply and soaking up the little things that are actually big things. The extra tight hug my son gives me before work, the way his toes snuggle up to mine, the hot cup of coffee on a cool morning . . . all of these seemingly small things, daily things, are touching my soul and taking the edge off my stress. These things aren’t new, but the outcome is more impactful.

I’d love to say I’m committed to journaling for life. The 6-Minute Diary is truly impacting my life for the better, and I’m looking at World Gratitude Day with true gratitude for what it’s taught me. Long-term, I want to feel gratitude in the moment and not be reliant on a book. Right now, my goal is to do my best with journaling and be more aware of my feelings in the moment. I’m putting my phone down more to be fully present, relaxing my need for tidiness in lieu of memories, and sticking to my boundaries between work and home so I can be my best in both spaces.

If you’re a busy mom who feels something is missing, or a busy mom who’s too busy to remember it all, I encourage you to focus on gratitude. World Gratitude Day on September 21 is the perfect time to start a new habit, like journaling, and highlight the good things in life. If you need a starting point, The 6-Minute Diary is my #1 recommendation. Focusing on gratitude has made a big impact in a short time and I’m excited to see where I’m at for my next birthday.

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Jennifer ("Jenn") Fiske grew up in San Antonio as the only-child from a military family. She's lived in DFW for 9 years with her husband, and their family has grown to include their toddler son and a sweet puppy who will chew anything. Jenn is a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist with a Master's in Exercise & Sports Nutrition. She worked with FC Dallas for several seasons while also coaching gymnastics at WOGA Frisco. She's also worked with Medical City Healthcare, DFW Airport, and manages the wellness program at Frisco ISD. Jenn is a self-proclaimed bookworm who bakes when she's stressed. Jenn loves being active through strength training and yoga and exploring parks with her son. When it comes to family feeding and nutrition, Jenn believes keeping things simple and lighthearted paves the way for enjoyable family meals.

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