No matter which kind of lifestyle blog you read or how many documentaries you watch on mindfulness, every single one of them mentions ‘journaling’ at some point. Journaling has become one of the main elements of living a balanced and meaningful life.
For me, it took a long time to really see any point in journaling. I couldn’t see how it differed from writing a diary. How ignorant I was… A diary is all about recapping everything that happened today or this week, whereas journaling goes much deeper. It’s all about asking yourself questions and answering them with the first thing that comes to your mind honestly and without fear of being laughed at.
Journaling is a really good way to, for example, get to know yourself a bit better. Whether you have a set of questions to answer each time you sit down to write, or whether the questions and subjects change every day doesn’t matter. The most important thing is that you stay true to yourself and write with complete honesty. The journal is for your eyes only, anyway. Unless you decide to reveal said journal, of course.
I finally became interested in journaling couple Autumns back when I got hit by a very serious case of SAD and found it really hard to survive from one day to the next. At that time there was a lot of buzz about ‘gratitude journals’ where you document all the things that you are grateful for today or this week.
Such things as “the bus arrived to the stop this morning at the same time as I did, so I didn’t need to wait in the rain.” Or it can be bigger things like “my boss complimented me on the great work I did on the last project and offered me a raise”. As long as it’s something that made you feel good, no matter how small a thing.
When you keep concentrating primarily on the positives your whole way of thinking starts to shift to a more positive direction, and you become happier despite whatever situation you may have been struggling with before you sat down to write.
I didn’t actually start a journal back then but I acknowledged their significance in people’s mental well-being. And this year I thought I’d start journaling just for the fun of it. I might end up learning something new about myself.
But before my top tips for journaling, here’s a lil list of why journaling could be just the thing for you:
♥ It increases self-knowledge
By documenting your thoughts for even a few months and then reading them through, you discover thoughts, patterns and ideas that you maybe didn’t known about yourself before. Even the smallest realization can be a big revelation in the long run.
♥ It’s a great tool in problem-solving
Journaling can work for you in both, personal life and work life, when it comes to problem-solving. Take a piece of paper and a pen and draw the problem or write down all the aspects that need figuring out. Seeing them spelled out on paper makes them much clearer and all of a sudden you realize that the solution to your problem is right there in front of you.
♥ It gives you perspective
Gratitude journal is a particularly great option for gaining perspective because you soon start to realize what things in life actually matter and which don’t. Being able to put things in perspective in one’s everyday life is a big aspect of living a happy and mindful life.
♥ It clarifies the mind
When your head is teeming with thoughts, that don’t seem to make any sense, it’s best to just grab that notebook and pen, and just pour everything on the first empty page. No need to keep words in order or try and make sense of the sentences, just spew it all on there.
I guarantee you feel better after that, like a weight has been lifted, and the words in front of you may again tell you things about you, or the things that are bothering you, that you didn’t expect.
Okay, so writing a journal is beneficial in many ways, but
How does one get started?
First off you should think about what you want to achieve with journaling. To get to know yourself better, to release stress by spewing it all on paper, to remind yourself of all the good things in your life?
There are millions and millions of journal prompts available completely free on Pinterest from subject-related lists to ‘365 journal prompts’ for every day of the year. I’ve actually used these lists as inspiration for blog posts, although the subjects are often too narrow for writing a proper article.
So, you could just read through some of them in case there’s one that you find suitable, or you can do what I did and come up with journaling prompts of your own. More about those a little further on, but first:
What does one need to journal?
As easy as it is to sit down in front of a laptop and start typing, I’d suggest that you only journal with actual pen and paper. Buy a lovely notebook or an actual journal where you have questions ready for each week or month.
Secondly, take your time with it. Find a peaceful, quiet space from your house and allow yourself 15-30 minutes to just immerse yourself into writing your thoughts out. Journaling is actually a great way to embrace the ‘slow living’, aka taking one’s time and enjoying it instead of feeling rushed all the bloody time.
Make journaling a habit by incorporating it into your everyday life so that you always journal at the same time. For example, the ‘morning pages’-way of journaling is a great way to make that morning coffee a tad more special when you write down your train of thought as it is first thing in the morning.
When you read your writings in the evening you may be surprised how much sense your morning thoughts actually make despite them feeling like a random word-vomit at the time of writing.
Also, make sure journaling is good for you. Journaling has to have a point, otherwise you won’t keep it up and thus miss a great opportunity to learn something new about yourself or the world around you. So, consider what is the reason why you should start a journal; is it a gratitude journal, morning pages, the goal journal or ideas journal? What is it that you want to get more insight on on a personal level?
I sometimes go with the morning pages-style and just write down everything that’s going through my mind first thing in the morning. Unfiltered, honest, just pure thoughts. It helps me to get it all out of my mind, onto a paper so that I can try and concentrate on getting up from bed and getting the day started.
But this time around I wanted to go a little bit deeper so this year I decided to start a self-discovery journal. I will stick to a few basic questions that I answer each Sunday. Each week is always different from the previous one, no matter how repetitive your work or everyday routines may be, and thus your feelings and ways of perceiving things change from one week to the next.
I thought it’d be interesting to record these feelings, emotions and perceptions for 6 months, maybe even a year, and then look back at how everything has evolved along the way with weather changing, days becoming lighter and warmer and with the year progressing.
I searched for a while online, but couldn’t find a list that would fill my needs and wants. So, I decided to do my own journal prompt. Here are
My weekly journal prompts for better self-knowledge:
Once you’ve got that brand new notebook, a pen or two, and have decided on when and where you will spend time with your new self-improvement hobby, it’s time to get started. It’s quite straight forward, just answer each of these questions each week. You can pin the above picture to your Pinterest so that you find it easily. Make sure you answer honestly! Remember, that these notes are for your eyes only.
What did I do this week?
How did I feel this week?
What am I proud of this week?
What could I have done better this week?
What goals do I have for next week?
After 6 months you should have 24 weeks’ worth of notes on your feelings, emotions, experiences and opinions. Read through all of those entries and see if you might see some patterns that you weren’t aware of before. Can you see a change in your opinions or feelings about something. Is there something that is constant.
Then consider what you can take from all this new knowledge and how you can benefit from it. What should you keep doing, what should you stop doing, and what should you start doing.
My start of year has been a little bit slow due to our travels and then my 30th birthday bash + my boyfriend’s birthday. So, I’m only getting started with my journaling this week. For some reason I have an absolute obsession with beautiful notebooks, so I’m looking forwards to going to a book store and purchasing the most beautiful and inspiring journal I can get my hands on.
Have you lovelies been journaling before or have you considered starting one? What do you consider as the biggest benefit one could gain from journaling? xx