Journaling, much like meditation, is one of the things you hear about being “really good for you.” However, if you don’t set aside time for either, then you simply won’t do them. It’s a matter of building a habit; writing in the same place at the same time every day that creates a lasting impact. Once you build the momentum it becomes a practice that can be of a great benefit to your mental and emotional health.
Start with a notebook that brings you joy. It could have fancy paper or be a marble notebook. Lined or unlined, large or small. Having one notebook gives you a safe place for writing. Choose a pen or pencil. Again, something that sparks joy when you use it. Once you have the journal and pen, make time to sit down and write for 10 - 20 mins as you are getting started.
Here are some ways journaling can supercharge your life:
Noticing patterns of behavior. When we write the same thing over the period of a few days or weeks we notice that a pattern is starting to form. For example, I might be writing “I want to hike more” but am I actually getting outside and on the trail? If not then I see what activities are blocking me from something that I know will really fill me up. On the other side of that coin, if I keep writing “I love being among the trees” it helps me to see how much joy hiking brings to my life and I want to do it even more.
Don’t sweat the small stuff. When I write down “my husband left his shoes in the middle of the living room again” I can explore if this is a big thing or something smaller. The smaller stuff I can let go of. By writing it in my journal I am allowing myself to feel the emotion (annoyance for the shoes in this case) and then discharge it. Feeling it >> letting it go. We can’t let go of something until we feel it and process it.
Be more present. Getting out the fears, worries, ideas, successes, dreams, etc. means we are able to listen better to others. When we’re not always thinking about a response or what I want to say because I have gotten it out already. The safe space of the journal grants me permission to be present for myself so I in turn can be present for others.
The size and magnitude doesn’t matter, when we make a list of all the amazing people, places, things, experiences that are in our lives, this changes us at a cellular level. We feel this in our bodies as well as our mind. I can be grateful for this cup of hot tea as well as the fact that I have access to running water in my home. The really neat thing about gratitude is that by cultivating it, we bring more of it into our lives.
Be less judgmental of our thoughts. When we write down our thoughts, however “boring” or “weird” they might be, we release them from the judgment of how they “should be.” There is no “good vibes only”. Only the real, raw detail and emotions.
Activated mornings with intention. Writing 1st thing in the morning gives the day clarity and purpose. My suggestion for anyone starting out in a journaling practice is to write first thing in the morning before the day gets away from you.
Cut screen time. The 20 minutes spent journaling is 20 minutes not looking at a phone, laptop or TV. When journaling, we can only do one thing…write! So we aren’t trying to multitask like we often do when we engage with screens.
Boost creativity in other areas. I believe creativity can take many forms and shapes. Yes, it is creative to dance, play an instrument, act in a movie or write a poem. There is also creativity in making a meal from scratch or getting the kids to go to bed each night. When we journal, I tap into a deeper well of creativity and this increases our brain power.
If you’d like some help getting started with a journaling practice reach out to Certified Health Coach, Shawn Brown from our Merritt Clubs Canton location at firstname.lastname@example.org.