Over the past couple of years, journaling has become a powerful tool for me in my self-love, self-compassion journey. I haven’t always been a journaler, but I’ve discovered the power of the pen. When my ink starts flowing, I’m constantly amazed at what comes out.
Just looking at my journal makes me happy and I feel a sense of calmness come over me.
When I first started writing in my journal, it felt a little unnatural and I was never sure what to write. But, through the power of practice and discovering some journaling ‘classes’ which provided daily prompts, I started getting more comfortable with it.
When I think back over the past year, my major ‘a-ha’ moments have all come from journaling. I’ll write something and then sit back and say to myself ‘holy crap’ and then be mesmerized for a few minutes as I let it sink in and start to process it. It’s been such a huge part of my self-discovery over the past year or two, that I felt a strong urge to share this with you as a means to encourage you to put pen to paper!
I think journaling is one of those personal practices that doesn't have a right or wrong way to do it or reason for doing it. You can literally journal about anything your heart desires and it doesn't have to be a "diary". These are a few things that come to mind when I think of journaling, but they're by no means the only reasons for journaling!
Release pent up thoughts & clear YOUR mind
When you feel like your mind is cluttered and you can’t get your thoughts straight, whip out your journal (or just a piece of paper) and write for a few minutes of stream of conscious thoughts with no editing. Just get your thoughts out of your head and I bet you’ll start thinking a little clearer and might even come up with a few ideas during your brain dump!
Helps you let things go
If you have lingering thoughts on things that are holding you back (past breakups, disappointments, etc.) you’ll never be able to move forward if you can’t let them go. Writing about it helps you process your thoughts. If what you write ends up being too personal and you’re scared it will land in the hands of others, you’re free to tear it up after you’re done, or toss it in a fire. That act alone can help you say goodbye to old thoughts and feelings and start fresh.
Record your memories
Journaling doesn’t have to be all about getting your thoughts and feelings onto paper. It can be as simple as recording your life. I definitely do this in my journaling and this used to be the only type of journaling I did, which makes it fun to go back and read what was going on in my life in the past.
When I travel, I keep a separate journal just for the trip and that’s my form of journaling - every night on my trip, I record everything I did, everything I saw, tasted, smelled, and experienced (I keep a small notebook in my purse that I jot down quick notes throughout the day so I don’t forget anything.).
THE MANY WAYS TO JOURNAL
When most people think of journaling they think of it as spilling all of their deep dark dirty secrets into notebook for their eyes only. But, it doesn’t have to take on this “traditional” form or be filled with juicy secrets.
There are many avenues for journaling and there are no rules! Regardless of whether you currently keep a ‘traditional’ journal, there are other options that you might want to explore as an alternative to writing down your feelings or to use in addition to your standard journal.
Do it online
In this day and age, a lot of people don’t want to have to keep up with a notebook or they just prefer typing on a computer. While there are numerous studies touting the benefits to putting pen to paper, you’re certainly not required to if that doesn’t appeal to you! While something as simple as Word or Evernote can get the job done, you also have online journal apps that can do the job for you as well (Penzu is an excellent option).
Visual journals are exactly what they sound like…they’re visual. Again, there are no rules, so you can do with this what you want, but the idea is to visually record whatever you want. Maybe it’s your thoughts, maybe it’s your future goals, or maybe even drawings to record your day. Think of this as a mini vision board! I love keeping a mini vision journal for my goals and I even house them in their own notebook! You could include magazine cutouts, swatches, quotes, mementos, etc. Whatever speaks to you is all you need to make it personal to you!
How many of us love a good list? Raise your hand high! If you’re like me, a good list is what keeps you sane, so another option is to use your notebook or journal as a place to keep your lists. There are even online ‘challenges’ for 52 weeks lists if you’re really into this. You can record lists of places you want to travel to, favorite songs, things you learned in your 20s, etc. There’s no end of options when it comes to lists!
Goals & plans
If you’re a goal setter like me, this may also appeal to you…carve out a special section of your journal or keep it separate in it’s own pretty notebook and record your various plans and goals. These can be long term, short term or both. Add in notes on how to get there and keep track of your progress along the way including any frustrations or roadblocks. Don’t forget to record successes and how you rewarded yourself!
I LOVE quotes and I regularly write down ones that inspire me. I love keeping a little notebook to record my favorite quotes as I come across them. When I need a little inspiration or boost in my day, I can whip this out and find the perfect one that speaks to me and sets me back on the right path. You could also take this a step further and write down what each quote means to you and how it inspires or motivates you. Again, there are no rules!!
Travel journals are probably one of the more popular types of ‘non-traditional’ journals. I always keep a travel journal when I head out on an adventure. As I previously mentioned, this is separate from my regular journal and it’s purpose is to record my trip so I can remember and relive it in the years to come. I write down everything I see, hear, taste, smell, and feel. I record experiences and how we got from point A to B and everything in between. Once I return home, I print off pics and paper clip them throughout my journal to add in a visual aspect as well.
Journaling is not for everyone. I didn’t start journaling until a couple of years ago, but now I’m addicted. When I have a lot on my mind, it’s like I can’t sit still until I can pour it out of my head, through my pen, and onto the paper. There’s something about finding a quiet spot and curling up with a cup of coffee, my journal, a favorite pen, and getting lost in my thoughts for awhile. It’s ‘me time’ at it’s finest.