Journaling: One of the most effective forms of self care and quite possibly one of the cheapest. It is definitely something that has become more popular over recent years, especially with the hype of mindfulness. We are guessing that if you are reading this post you are thinking of starting to explore the world of journaling, so let us take you on whistle-stop tour of what it is, what you can expect and why journaling is good for you.
What is journaling?
Journaling is about writing down and exploring your thoughts and feelings about aspects and events in your life in a diary or a journal. It is said that it is best done on a daily basis, but even done sporadically when you are feeling particularly stressed or in need of clearing your mind it can still be hugely effective. Journaling can actually be whatever you want it to be: A great way to think of it is as a gateway to getting down on paper whatever is going on in your mind. Often people think that if you journal you need to have a problem or issue that you are facing, and that is what you are journaling about, but this is not the case. Journaling can cover such a wide range of topics and can act as a positivity boost each day, a memory keeping method or an outlet for your thoughts and feelings that need exploring.
What are the methods of journaling?
The options here are limitless as there are many methods of journaling available. It all depends on what type of person your are, your personality and what you find most effective. It can also depend on where you are in life: there may be some things you wish to journal about that aren’t relevant or appropriate years down the line, so your method of journaling may change over time. But the key in it all is to find what works best for you and this may involve a bit of experimenting.
Over the years Emma has kept many journals from food journals when she was stuggling with IBS, to exercise journals when she was focused on getting in better shape and fitness, structured journals (such as Dailygreatness), ones that allow more creativity (such as a bullet journal), ones that focus on business, to ones that document our pregnancy journey.
The list is endless and the beauty is that you get to decide.
What are the benefits?
There are a huge amount of benefits to journaling and in fact we could create a post just on this. So we have just listed some of them below:
Reduce stress: Journaling can have such a cathartic effect, and can often feel for many like talking to a friend, or therapist. It can actually be a great way of getting things down for those who aren’t great with talking.
Provides clarity: It can help you think clearer when your thoughts are down on paper and not whirling around in your head.
Helps you process: If something traumatic happens, writing down your thoughts and feelings around it can start to help you in dealing it and processing what has happened.
Helps create more self awarensss: As you begin to write things down you may start to gain more understanding on the things that make you tick, those things make you happy or sad, or even of what’s important to you.
Helps us to be more mindful and slow down: The act of sitting and doing something intentionally makes us stop whatever we were doing or keeping ourselves busy with (usually scrolling through our phones) and instead be in the moment.
It’s great to look back on: We often sit and look back through old journals when having a good sort out. It provides a great bit of nostalgia as it’s amazing how quickly we forget. Having a reference to look back on can be great for either remembering great times or for realising how far we have come.
It can be liberating and healing: It is often said that writing is the window to the soul, and by getting things down on paper we can really dive in to areas we haven’t been before and feel a lightness that we have always only been able to dream of.
Can there be any negatives?
It’s not all singing and dancing and as with anything there can be some negatives at times, but if we are aware of them we can avoid them becoming a probem.
We can sometimes only focus on the negative: It is important to get balance when journaling so you are not only focusing on the difficulties, but also focus on something like gratitude, or solutions to any problems you have. The simple act of taking this approach can often lead us to our own solutions as it enables us to change our outlook on things.
Finding the time to do it: Often many leave it until bed because that is the only time they can find the time, and then as a result feel too tired to even bother, or if they do they don’t get all of their feelings down and end up rushing it, resulting in them not fully exploring them.
Not sure where to start so don’t bother: Journaling can sometimes be overwhelming, but it really doesn’t need to be. If you are feeling overwhelmed by it all, the best place to start is by doing. So grab a pen and paper and just start writing whatever you feel you want to write about and then your journaling will evolve from there. If you struggle with getting the writing going then prompts can be really helpful.
Other thoughts can be triggered: Sometimes by being brave enough to explore our thoughts and feelings it can trigger more, these may be things we have kept buried before or are deep down and simply coming out through the art of writing. Journaling is exploration and a process, but sometimes can be too much for somebody to try and work through on their own. It is worth mentioning at this point that you should seek professional advice if you feel this way.
So all of this sounds great, but how do you get started?
- Ultimately everybody is different so work out how you think you would like to journal – would you like structure, or a blank canvas?
- Decide what it is that you would like to journal about: Is it gratitude? Is it an emotional release, Is it to document your every day life such as tasks, appointments etc or perhaps something else?
- Don’t think that it has to be perfect. You don’t need the perfect stationary, or the perfect workspace (like you see on Pinterest) to get going, just get started!
- The most important rule is that there are no rules. make it work for you
- Keep it simple: If something is easy to do then you are more likely to repeat it. Keep your journal where you can see it daily as a reminder and keep a pen handy with it.
Are you in?
Journaling may sound a bit hocus-pocus to some, but it is fundamentally one of the most accesible and cost effective tools that we have available to us as a way to improve our mental well-being.
Journaling has always provided us with an outlet in which to manage our thoughts and emotions, and has given us alot of clarity about how to move forward with situations that we would have otherwise felt stuck in. It has also helped to slow life down by doing activities that we enjoy and can very much be in the moment with. We are certainly not perfect, and don’t fill out our journals each and every day, but, they work for us and allow us to process anything that we feel is important at that time, enabling us to life a more fulfilling and rewarding life, and ultimately, isn’t that what matters!