Hello wonderful people!
In today's busy world there isn't much time for things like slowing down to write about your day and your feelings. Or maybe you just think that's a bit touchy-feely. Well, there IS time and... I think it's pretty dang cool (expert opinion).
First, let me tell you a bit about my journaling. I journaled on and off when I was a kid. I recall short, sticker-covered entries in a Strawberry Shortcake journal whose topics ranged from getting a new pair of pants to my little brother's birth. I remember attempts at artsy entries in flowery journals when I got a bit older. Now, I've been able to finally make a nightly habit out of the simple act of putting pen to paper.
My journaling is quite simple. I incorporate it into my bedtime routine as the second-to-last step (before stretching). I write about what I did that day, how I felt, and things that are on my mind. I spend maybe 10 minutes writing. Usually depends on how tired I am :) I always make an effort, and I'm about to tell you WHY:
1. Figure yourself out.
What makes you happy? What makes you sad? What makes you feel productive? What doesn’t? You’ll start to notice patterns about yourself, and you’ll be able to implement those into your life. For example, one weekend when I was feeling really blue, I made a list before going to bed of things to do if it happened again. I included things I knew REALLY helped me - breathing fresh air, getting my heart rate up, talking to my family, a change of scenery, etc.
2. Journaling is writing, and writing makes you smarter.
You know how in school we were told to read 20 minutes a day because it would expand our vocabulary and make us better readers? Doing anything daily will help you get better at it. Forming your abstract and confusing feelings into words will push you to search for words that are more challenging than those you might use in everyday conversation. Keep doing this and these words might start coming out when you're not even trying, you smarty pants, you.
3. Confront the thoughts that are bothering you.
Why did your co-worker say that stupid and rude thing this morning? How will I dress for tomorrow’s party? Should I buy a new blender? Thoughts may be bobbing in and out of your consciousness, a constant distraction throughout the day. Pull them out, lay them all down on the paper, and you’ll feel more relaxed, more in control.
4. Reach your #goals
Have you ever written down a goal for the month and then not looked at it again until the end of the month? Yeah… me too. You can’t achieve something if it’s not constantly on your mind. Writing about your goals, even if it’s just a quick update on your progress, will keep them at the front of your mind. You’ll have a place to celebrate your successes, to vent about your struggles, and ultimately to announce that you’ve reached your goal!
5. Give yourself a pep talk
Sometimes I write to my journal. Sometimes it’s more like my journal is writing to me. I’ll be describing something that happened during the day, then I’ll segue into a paragraph of advice to myself, overflowing with positive and encouraging words. It’s like the self-confidence tip of giving yourself a compliment when you see yourself in the mirror. If you write down a positive affirmation, you’re more likely to believe it.
Here are a few tips for commencing your own journaling habit:
Focus on feelings, emotions, not a run-through of your day.
This is something I need to work on. I track how I spend my time on an app called Now Then Pro, which compiles nice little colorful schedules, pie charts, and bar graphs to show you what you did that day. While it’s tempting to just copy that information into my journal and give a few details on each thing I did, it’s much more valuable to focus on the events that made you feel strong emotions. Flesh out those emotions, work through them, DON'T shy away from them.
Don’t give up.
Your journal is a 100% non-judgmental best bud, it won’t be mad if you leave it for a couple of weeks! The important this is: when you come back, don’t spend a long time apologizing, explaining, regretting, etc. It’ll give you writer’s fatigue before you’ve even gotten to the meat of your entry! Just jump right into what you want to write about.
Date and time each entry.
Day of the week, date, time, and day of cycle are what I include at the top of each entry. Great for looking back through what I wrote.
Make it a habit and commit to it.
Let’s face it, if you just say you’re going to “write at some point today”, it’s probably not going to happen. When is it going to happen? Morning? Bedtime? After school/work?
Have fun with it.
Writing this post I remembered the journals I kept on and off as a kid. They would make me so excited. It was an outlet, and I could write absolutely freaking anything! Invite some of that playfulness back into your life. Draw pictures, include song lyrics, write a weather update, put in stickers, paste ticket stubs… or don’t, it’s your journal and no one can tell you what to do with it! ¯\_(ツ)_/¯
Print these out, maybe make a journaling prompt jar, and pull one out when you feel uninspired to write.
- What were 3 things you were grateful for today?
- What moment in life would you want to travel back in time to? Why?
- Describe a dream day. When would you wake up? What would you eat for breakfast? Who would you spend time with?
- List 10 things that make you feel productive.
- What is one thing someone did for you today that made you feel loved?
- How did you practice self-care today? How can you practice self-care tomorrow?
- What would you do differently if you could relive today?
- What did you hear on the news, see online, etc. today that interested you/made you think?
- Who do you wish you could spend more time with?
- How are you managing stress?
- What hobby/passion did you nurture today?
- What is one intention you have for today/tomorrow?
- What are you looking forward to?
- Who are you angry at/annoyed with right now? How can you forgive them?
- How have your energy levels been lately?
- What would you do if you had more time?
Question for this week is... If you journal, what kind of a notebook do you use? If you don't, what would you buy?
A: I use this small notebook that my mom brought back for me from Lithuania. It has a little illustration on the cover.
Happy journaling, friends!