I can understand why when someone suggests journaling it gets easily dismissed at first. Writing out your thoughts and feelings can sound cringe, maybe slightly embarrassing and abit too ‘dear diary’. I thought the exact same way and it took me several attempts to get into the journaling habit. Now I fully embrace the process and can feel the benefits. Journaling has been scientifically proven to improve mental health, reduce stress and anxiety and make you a happier, more positive person.
Starting out I got caught up in trying to make my journal look nice, I didn’t like that I have messy handwriting and I wanted to be able to draw the cute little flower doodles you see on Pinterest. I soon realised that’s not me and it made journaling a chore, but its not about being perfect. After some time off I tried with a different approach, dug out the ugliest notepad I could find, turned to the third page in (never write on the first page) and grabbed a pencil. I then just started scribbling down every thought I had and it felt so much better. There was no pressure and I was focusing on my feelings and not what the pages looked like, what did it matter anyway, no one else was going to see it. Over time I’ve found out what does and doesn’t work for me which I’m about to share. But remember, a journal is for you and the easiest way to get started is to just grab a pen and start.
1. Start by making a list of things you’re grateful for. Just 3 things that you’ve noticed over the day that made you happy or just comforted you. This can be a simple as the first taste of coffee in the morning or the fact the sun is shining or much more specific and meaningful, such as spending time with a loved one. Starting to make note of the the things you’re grateful of encourages you to notice the small things that bring you joy over that day and find the positives in life. Don’t think too hard about this, just reflect back on the day and write down the first positive moments you can think of.
2. List your goals, short term ones and your biggest dreams. In the morning I always write 3 or 4 goals I want to achieve over the day, small manageable tasks that I’m likely to be able to complete. When looking back on the goals in the evening I get a small sense of accomplishment, or I can reflect on why I didn’t achieve them, which is okay too. Journaling about your big goals for the future gives you the time to focus on them and when they’re in the front of your mind you are more open to the spot the opportunities that will help you make the dreams a reality. When focusing on big goals think, and write down, the reasons you want to achieve these goals and imagine how you’ll feel when you get there. This could also be called manifesting your desires, but thats a conversation for another day.
3. Write down your negative thoughts and problems and a solution. Constantly worrying about a problem won’t solve it, laying it out on the page and thinking about the solution will. Considering the solutions to problems can help you make a plan and set goals. And remember, if there isn’t a solution maybe it’s not worth worrying about.
4. Just write everything down. Grab a pen, I actually use pencil for this, but whatever works for you and just start writing. This is probably the hardest part of journaling to get used to but the most beneficial. It allows you to empty your mind, that whole jumble of thoughts down on to paper. Remember this journal is only for you, no one else is going to read it so don’t filter your thoughts and don’t worry if its not neat and tidy. Once you’ve finished, read it back and reflect on the words you’ve written.
This journal is for you.
5. Use your journal to help you. This journal is for you, to help you feel better so use it to get what you want. If you want to drink more water or practice yoga more then make a habit tracker. Use it write down wish lists, reading lists, movies you want to see and places you want to go. In the morning write down daily mantras, affirmations and visualisations or how you want your day to go and who you want to be today. Finally, at the end of every journaling session leave a positive note to yourself, because you’ve got this.
Remember, your journal is for you. It doesn’t matter how ascetically pleasing it is, its for you. It doesn’t matter if you make spelling mistakes, it’s for you. It doesn’t matter what you say, it’s for you. Think of the notepad as a completely silent, none judgemental best friend and tell it everything. Trust in the process and see what happens.