Have you ever written a diary? It may seem like a little girl’s dream but it turns out that journaling (that’s what you call writing in a diary for grown-ups), is a very powerful tool.
I had always known that writing in a journal was a ‘good idea’ but never really felt like I had the time for it. I had a call with an amazing coach Aja and she gave me some homework. Being the diligent student that I am, I did her journaling homework. Much to my surprise it was amazing! It’s one of the most powerful tools, along with meditation, that I have found so far.
Here are some reasons to journal (according to the all knowing internet):
Relieves stress Absolutely YES! This is a great tool to use when you have feelings or emotions that you aren’t sure how to deal with. Write out your feelings and sometimes you will be surprised at what comes out.
Self Awareness Self awareness is something I’ve been working on and sometimes I’ll write something and I had no idea that it was in my head but once I’ve written it, I’m like “Oh ya! That’s exactly what it is!”
Mental Health This is a biggie! Studies show that journaling is helpful for depression, anxiety, stress management, and PTSD! YAY! I didn’t even think about this when I started journaling but I have found the days I journal, I am able to feel more peaceful.
Creativity While you may associate creativity with drawing, did you know writing is a creative pursuit as well? It’s a beautiful one as it combines the creative left side with the analytical right side of our brain, helping them function together.
Being Mindful If you read my free mindfulness guide, you’ll know I’m all about being mindful. Journaling can bring you to the present moment and allow you to feel what you need to feel.
Emotional Intelligence Speaking of feeling, journaling is key to understanding the emotional system in your body. Keeping a journal about how your emotions affect your body will make it much easier to understand your body’s signals.
Manifestation I’m not sure about the science behind this one but I do know that writing things you want to happen makes them much more likely to happen. It’s amazing!! I have a story for this one — If you read my last newsletter, you’ll know I’ve been trying to sell my house, well . . . I journaled twice in two days and wrote about finding a perfect buyer for my house. The second day, we got an offer on our house! Now, many might say it was just a coincidence, but I don’t believe in those. It's enough to keep me journaling.
How To Get Started Journaling
Here are some tips on how to get started:
Get a notebook to write on. I use a digital notebook in GoodNotes because it’s easy to add more pages and I don’t have to worry about extra stuff (minimalist here!).
Create a habit of journaling.
Find a specific time of day you want to journal (mine is in the morning)
Come up with a cue of something that you do each day that will remind you to journal. (My cue is after I mediate in the morning, I journal)
Start small. The tendency is to want to start off with a huge burst but science shows that starting small will help you keep your goals in the long run. Start with 1 minute a day - most people can part with 1 minute each day.
Make it easy. Have your journal and pen ready where you can see it. Create a place that makes it easy for you to remember to journal.
Write this down - "I am a person who journals everyday."
Plan for setbacks. You know your patterns, you start something and then your motivation wanes and you stop. What makes you stop? What are your patterns? How can you plan to get past those patterns?
You can even write affirmations that go against your patterns. I write “I journal everyday” or “I stick to my habits” etc.
Tell people. Telling people will make you feel more accountable
Surround yourself with people who journal. Make friends who journal. You can do this in real life or online on social media, follow blogs etc. Get inspiration from wherever you can. It will also act as a reminder to journal everyday, as it will be in your mind.
Make it fun and enjoyable. If it’s a difficult or boring task, you won’t do it. If you need to, reward yourself for journaling. Often, however, you might find that you don’t need a reward as the benefits of journaling can be enough of a reward.
Writing is preferable to typing. You may be not be used writing but if you can, I’d highly suggest physically taking a pen to paper. There’s something more that happens in your brain when you write than when you type. There is something powerful about the hand-to-heart connection that that doesn't happen when you use a keyboard.
Use journal prompts. You can make your own or find some on the internet. The other option is to free write - write whatever comes to your head. I’ll include some prompts here for your enjoyment.
Write like no one is reading it. You don’t have to show your journal to anyone and you don’t even have to read it yourself, if you don’t want to. Sometimes those words are just meant to come out and not be read. You can write and then get rid of your words afterwards— in fact, this can be very cathartic.
Give yourself some time after you write to process your thoughts and emotions. Sometimes journaling can be taxing on your emotions and just a few moments to sit in silence can help with the processing.
Now, it’s your turn. I’ve given you what I know about journaling, now I want you to start. You can get my journal stickers to add to your calendar to remind you to journal each day.