Benefits of Journaling
Journaling is a common and beneficial practice that is often recommended for emotional, mental, spiritual, and psychological health. It is easy to do and offers an excellent opportunity to work through the emotional and stressful challenges of life. A journal does not judge you or offer advice; it is simply a sounding board for you to work through thoughts and feelings, or to just document your life. If you have ever wanted to use a journal more often and really reap all the benefits others swear by, you have come to the right place. Keep reading to learn all about setting up your journaling routine and really taking it to the next level. To get started, we are going to talk about a few of the benefits of journaling.
Journaling Restores Mindfulness
Happiness is directly linked to mindfulness. When you’re writing in your journal, your frustrations and anxieties ebb away, and you’re left to unite with your thoughts completely. Sometimes simply having a place to dump all of your feelings, disappointments and thoughts also gives you a way to let them out and walk away from them. This release helps you to feel your feelings, sort through them via pen and paper, and move along in a healthy manner. It’s quite powerful.
Journaling Relieves Stress
Journaling is one of the best ways you can deal with stress. It provides so many benefits for you, from allowing you to do a brain dump (see below), to helping you understand where your stress is coming from. If you find out later that you have stress that comes in goes, going to previous journal entries in a stress journal helps you see what similarities there were, to figure out your main stress triggers. And even more simply, it gives you a way to vent your worries and frustrations without worrying about burdening someone else with them.
Journaling is a Brain Dump
The brain dump provides a really easy way to get all those thoughts, worries, concerns, and idea out of your head and onto paper. Through this process, you really de-stress a lot, even coming up with worries you didn’t realize you had. It starts helping you find clarity in your thoughts and worries and helps de-clutter your mind. All you need to do for a brain dump is write whatever comes to mind on a piece of paper. This is often referred to as ‘stream of consciousness’ journaling, because you are just writing whatever comes to mind, without being concerned about organizing your thoughts. If your mind switches to a new subject, so does your journaling! Just keep writing until you feel like all the main thoughts are out on paper.
Journaling Helps You Recognize and Track Your Different Triggers
Keeping track of triggers is one of the biggest benefits of journaling for stress, burnout, and overwhelm. You need to know why you are dealing with these experiences, not just when. The more detailed you are in each journal entry, the more you will start to see similar patterns. It might be the same time of week, before or after payday, related to people in your life or personal relationships, and many other things.
Journaling Brings You Closer to Achieving Your Goals
When we journal, we often write about the things we wish we could accomplish. That café we dream of opening or that dream vacation we’ve had on our minds for years. No matter what it is, writing it down helps your brain focus on those goals and find ways to bring it to fruition. Essentially, it means you’re more likely to achieve those goals if you simply write about them first. Understanding the benefits of journaling and knowing the basics is easy enough, but when you want to be consistent with it, that requires adding practice to your daily routine.
Why Should You Have a Journaling ROUTINE?
The prospect of writing in a journal might seem simple, but to turn it into a habit, you will need to create an entire routine around it. The details of the routine are completely up to you, but it helps to first understand WHY you should kickstart your journaling routine.
Consistency is Key
This goes for anything in your life, especially something you want to benefit the most from. If you have read everything about what journaling can do for you, it isn’t going to help if you write it in once a week or whenever you feel like it. You need to be consistent. Write in your journal every day, preferably in the same environment around the same time. This gets it into your head that it is time for journaling each and every day, and the more you do that, the more you see all the amazing benefits from it.
Routine Build a Habits
Whenever you add something new into your routine, it can be hard to pick up at first. You are so used to your normal routine (and trust me, you have one), that adding in a new activity takes some getting used to. What the routine does is helps you turn it into a habit. You schedule using your journal at a certain time of day, whether it is when you wake up or after dinner, and eventually, it becomes so habitual that you don’t even have to think about it.
Journaling is Amazing for Your Health
By having a journaling routine, you encourage all those amazing journaling benefits. It helps with your clarity and mindset, relieves anxiety, helps with stress, and can even improve your physical health.
Your Journaling Mindset
Before you start working on your journaling routine, you need to change your mindset about journaling. This means taking the idea of writing in a journal and really expanding on it. Asking yourself all the important questions, like why you want to journal, what you hope to get out of it, and what place it has in your life.
Here are some questions to ask yourself that will help you figure out what your expectations are for your journaling routine:
Why Do You Want to Journal?
Are you sure you know what your own purpose and reasoning is behind the journal and journaling routine? Write down a list of all the reasons why you want to journal. They can be anything from wanting to find more clarity in your life, to looking for a place to vent. Just like your journal itself, this list should not be judgmental or something that you are afraid to admit. If you are just curious what it can do for you, write that down! Make a list of every reason you have for creating a journaling routine. Throughout this process, you might even discover some hidden inspirations for journaling that you had no idea were in the back of your mind. This alone can be a really therapeutic experience.
What Benefits Are You Hoping to Achieve?
Expanding more on the reasons for journaling, what are some of the benefits you want to get out of it?
While the final list will be up to you, here are some different ways people often benefit from having a journal:
- Expressing thoughts and feelings, without judgment.
- Exploring your hidden passions.
- Working through difficult moments in your life.
- Setting and achieving goals.
- Understanding why you make the decisions you make.
- Reflecting on your life.
- Having a way to document your life, and keep those memories.
And so many more! There are so many wonderful benefits to writing in a journal, from wanting to finally reach those life goals you have, to figuring out why your life is at the place it is.
What Areas of Your Life Need Improving?
The journaling routine is going to help you with various areas of your life, but especially when it comes to things you want to improve. This is another great way to figure out why you want to journal and give you the motivation to keep it up. What you will notice when you first start using the journal, is that after a few days, you lose some of that spark. You need to continue finding inspiration, which is why this question is so important. It allows you to see where in your life you feel you are lacking, and what you want to focus on when it comes to writing in your journal.
How Does It Fit Into Your Routine?
One last question is to figure out where journaling will fit into your daily routine. Even if you don’t realize it, you have a certain routine right now. The time you wake up, when you shower and get dressed, whether or not you eat breakfast before work, what you do at night to wind down before bed. All of this is part of your routine. With a journaling routine, you are adding the practice of writing in your journal to a part of your daily routine. This might be in the morning, during your lunch break at work, early afternoon while in carpool, or in the evening to reflect on your day.
Morning and Night Journal Routines
An important thing to keep in mind as you are working on starting a new journaling routine is that there is a big difference in the time of day you choose for your routine. Writing in a journal at the beginning of a day is often quite different than journaling at the end of the day. Everything is different, from your mindset and energy level, to what you want to write about and how it can benefit you. Take a look at how journaling might change depending on if you choose a morning or nighttime routine.
Journaling in The Morning
The first option you have is to add journaling to your morning routine. This works great for many people who want a new morning routine that sets themselves up for the day. You can really improve your productivity with a morning journaling practice.
When you journal in the morning, it might include:
Set Your Intentions for the Day – This goes far beyond just making a to-do list (see below). Setting intentions is a way for you to visualize what you want your day to look like, including your mood, your positive attitude, something you are grateful for, or an inspirational quote. And morning journaling is the perfect time for having good intentions each and every day that you can focus on.
Task and To-Do Lists – Don’t forget your tasks for the day! With a morning journal, you can also use this time to write down what you need to get done, whether in your personal or professional life. Put together a to-do list, write down a daily goal, and put it in order of priority.
Gratitude – One of the most beneficial things to include in your journal is gratitude. Expressing gratitude allows you to appreciate all of the blessings in your life. It helps put you in a positive attitude, relieves stress, and helps you move past those bad days.
Inspirational Quote or Affirmations – If you are someone who is really trying to improve your mindset, try to also include an inspirational quote or affirmation for the day. You can use the same one each day, or change them up as needed. This is another great reason to write in your journal in the morning.
Journaling at Night
The other option is to add journaling to your nighttime routine. This is more what people think of when they think about a traditional journal or diary. You can write about your day, write how you’re feeling, and work through anything you are dealing with.
For a nighttime journaling routine, you might write about:
How Your Day Was -Writing about your day benefits you in a few ways. First, it documents your life, which is great to look back on later when you wonder what you were doing at a particular time in your life. It is also a good way to reflect on your choices, how you spend your time, and get some clarity.
Ways It Could Have Been Better – Not every day is perfect, but by expressing how you feel and what you went through that day, it also allows you to see what ways it could have been better. Have a bad day? Write about it, then include what you could have done differently. Trust me, this really helps you out in the future when trying to make decisions.
What You Are Grateful For – Gratitude isn’t just for the morning! You can also express your gratitude in the evening, especially with specifics about what you appreciate each day. It can be something as simple as having coffee with a friend or showing appreciation for a co-worker who helped you with a project.
Goals or Tasks You Completed – Have a good summary at the end of every day that shows if you completed any tasks on your to-do list, and whether or not it is helping you reach your goals. Want to benefit from both? Try to find time in both the morning AND evening to write in your journal.
Ditching the Journaling Rules and Judgments
If there was just one mistake a lot of people, make when they set an intention to journal – they try to set too many rules. Filling up pages, writing about certain topics, making sure your spelling and grammar is on point, and the many other rules and regulations make journaling feel like a chore. And when it feels like work, it is really hard to motivate yourself to keep up with it every day. A better solution is to make journaling a fun, carefree, rule-free activity. Don’t judge yourself for whatever you have to say, keep your journal secret so you aren’t afraid to speak your mind, and never have any rules aside from writing in the journal every day.
Here are some tips for ditching the rules and judgments when it comes to your new journaling routine:
There are No Rules in Journaling
Just because you read how other people go about their journaling practice, doesn’t mean you have to do it that way. In fact, it can take a little time for you to figure out exactly what type of journaling habit you want to have. Want to use a notebook instead of a journal? Go for it. Not a great speller? Who cares? Just write in your journal, in whatever way works best for you. Switch up your routine as often as you need to and stop giving yourself these pointless rules.
Keep Your Journal Secret and Private
One of the issues you might face when journaling is that you feel like you have to make it appropriate for other people. Even if you intend to keep it to yourself, you may become worried that curious eyes could find it and read it. This in turn causes you to write in such a way where you wouldn’t be embarrassed for others to see it. The main problem with this is that you aren’t being honest and true to yourself. Keep your journal completely private and hidden from others, as this allows you to feel more comfortable to be honest. You will get a lot more from journaling when you don’t feel like you have to monitor what you say.
Never Judge Yourself
Along the same lines of being open and honest – don’t judge yourself for how you think or feel. Write about your truth, no matter what it is. Even if it’s not socially acceptable, even if you’re not sure why you feel that way or what it means. To find true clarity and discover your own path to happiness, you have to start from a place of pure, raw honesty.
Strategies for Journaling When You Don’t Feel Like It
No matter how much you enjoy writing in your journal, there are going to be times when it is the last thing you want to do. Whether because you’re tired, dealing with writers’ block, or the stress of your life is keeping you from your regular routine, it happens to the best of us. Luckily, there are a lot of things you can do to push yourself toward writing in your journal, regardless of the reason you don’t really feel up to it.
Set a Timer
This is a little trick that works great not just for journaling, but for any time when you can’t seem to get the motivation for work. Just set a timer and know that you only have to write until that timer goes off. A good time to start with is 5 minutes, which goes by a lot faster than you think while writing in a journal. You can eventually increase the time if you want to get a little more journaling done.
Fill Up One Page
Another simple strategy for getting past writers’ block is to commit to just one page in your journal. If you have a smaller journal, this is super easy to do. Just write what comes to mind, whether that is your plans for the day or how you’re feeling, and stop once you have filled up the page.
Doodle and Draw
There is no reason you have to write in your journal! There might be a day when you’re feeling creative or just want to doodle until you think of something to write about. Get out a pen, pencil, or even a coloring pencil, and just draw what feels right to you. This is not only a good activity for de-stressing, but often sparks thoughts for your next journal entry.
Try Stream of Consciousness Writing
One thing that often keeps people from writing int heir journal is not knowing what to write awithbout. But remember, this is your journal to do what you want . Even if you have been trying to follow a certain topic or style, doesn’t mean you can’t just have a few days of writing whatever is in your head. This is called stream of consciousness writing, where you don’t even think before you write. Just put pen to paper, and see what happens. The first thought can be something as simple as how your day was, and can change subjects as often as you want.
Use Journaling Prompts
Another great strategy is to use journaling prompts. There are many prompts that ask you question or direct you to a certain topic to write about. This gives you a little direction, but can also inspire other journal entries when you’re feeling a little stuck.
Kickstarting Your Routine – The First Days
Now let’s learn about how to choose your journaling routine, and what to do on those first few days of writing in your journal.
Choosing Your Journal and Writing Utensils
Get prepared for your journaling routine by first deciding what you are going to use for your journal. There are so many options these days, since journaling continues to become more popular. You can find soft cover and hard cover journals, spiral notebooks, traditional notebooks, and everything in between. If you want a journal with various templates to fill in, you can also look at online printable pages that you print out and add to a binder or book of your choice. For pens, try out a few different ones to see what you enjoy writing with. Journaling often involves a lot of writing, so you don’t want to get frustrated every day just because of choosing the wrong pen.
What Time of Day Is Best for You?
As for the actual routine, think about your current schedule and when you think 5-10 minutes of writing in a journal would be most convenient. Do you want to wake up a little earlier in the morning to write before work, or would you prefer adding it to your nighttime routine? Also consider the type of journaling you intend to do, as this might determine what time of day and environment is best.
Your First Days of Writing
For the first day of writing in your journal, it is the perfect time to write about why you want to start the journal and what you hope to get out of it. This sets your intentions and keeps you inspired.
The following few days might include:
- How you’re feeling
- What your goals are
- What you enjoy about journaling
Just have fun with it! Allow your journal to reflect who you are and how you feel, let go of the rules, and enjoy yourself.
Have you ever kept a journal? If not, are you excited about starting one? Let me know in the comments below. I would love to hear from you.
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