How to journal + make a daily habit of it!
It seems a pretty basic idea, right? Keeping a journal and writing in it regularly. But somehow, just like eating a healthy meal and not the whole block of chocolate, it’s easier said than done. 😉
But journaling is a fantastic way to incorporate a little mindfulness into our day, keep an accurate record during stressful times, plan ahead and track our goals, and just get to know ourselves a little better!
So, where to start? If your memories of journaling as a child include:
Tommy told Emma he likes Rebecca. And Miss Thomas made us do lines today for being too noisy.
Then you might be wondering what is the point of journaling?
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Why keep a journal?
There’s not just one answer here, and I think that’s why people put off starting. Are they recording their day’s activities? How they felt about them? What they plan to do tomorrow? Yes! All of these. And more 🙂
Journaling has many benefits. And what to write does depend on what benefits you are trying to achieve. See, if you are wanting to keep a journal for your gratitude practice then you probably don’t need to include tomorrow’s “to do” list.
What’s your ‘why’?
To let go of the circling thoughts.
Perhaps your ‘why’ is to download the thoughts in your head. This is one I use a lot! I find the same thoughts running around and around my head, and if I don’t get them down on paper they’ll just carry on all day long, taking up all that space!
It might be something I’m trying to remember for later in the week, or replaying a conversation I’ve had. As soon as it’s on paper, it’s as if my mind can let go. And this makes room for new, creative thoughts.
What?? That sounds a bit crazy, right? Well, consider this. We don’t pay attention to every thought running through our minds, they sometimes just have free reign and we go about our business. But not every thought is helpful, or even true.
You know, things like “I can’t do this” or “I’m going to make a fool of myself when I do (insert whatever scary thing you have coming up!)”.
And so these thoughts are ruling not only our conscious mind, but our subconscious mind and consequently, our sympathetic nervous system. Which is where our stress and anxiety stems from.
Now when we write down these thoughts and actually get a chance to evaluate whether they are true, false, helpful or not, we can react to them. We can say “actually I’m not scared, I’m a little excited and it’s very new to me, but it’ll be OK”. Or “yes I do feel nervous, but of course I can do this”.
When you come across a thought that doesn’t serve you, throw it out! Consciously choose a thought that you feel is more reflective of how you feel and your abilities.
Keeping an accurate record.
There are times in our lives when we have a lot of information coming at us. You just can’t rely on your mind to keep it all in check! According to the experts, our memories are sadly not quite as good as we like to think.
Whether you’re starting a new job, planning a renovating, or expecting your first baby, keeping a journal is a great way to keep a record of everything that has been said and is going on.
It can also be useful when things are not going so well. Maybe you are facing health issues with multiple doctors visits and medical jargon, or you are caught up in a legal battle. Write it all down! You will be so thankful to have kept a record of things, and this can help reduce the stress of trying to take everything on board at an already stressful time.
As part of a gratitude practice.
A daily gratitude practice provides so many benefits, and perhaps most important it can make us happier! That’s a pretty good reason to start. 🙂
Keeping a gratitude journal helps to cultivate a positive mindset and reduce stress and anxiety. By actively thinking about the things we are grateful for, it helps us to focus on the positive things, and spend less time worrying about the negative. This #1 bestselling journal will help keep you on track, and for the days you don’t feel like writing there is room to just doodle! Or check out the ever popular Zen as F*ck journal (take a peek and you’ll see why it’s so popular!).
Nothing I say could describe how to bullet journal as well as this tutorial at bulletjournal.com (this is not an affiliate link, just an awesome resource for you!). I really love this approach, and anything that encourages us to step away from a digital screen is pretty cool. You can buy a Bullet Journal directly from their website too, or there are plenty of options on Amazon too, like the Bullet Journal Method.
Not sure what your ‘why’ is?
If you just don’t know where to start, you’ll find heaps of journal ideas online. Penzu.com is a great place to start for journal prompts, as well as providing a digital journal for those who don’t like pen and paper.
How to journal daily.
The key here is to be consistent. Writing something everyday will help you develop good habits. Making the effort to write something everyday will ensure you are journaling effectively and you’ll get better over time too! And if you feel like you are running out of time, or too tired, commit to just writing a sentence or two.
The easiest way to start a journaling habit is to set aside a specific time for yourself to write. You might choose to keep it beside your bed and write first thing in the morning or before you go to sleep (again, this is going to depend on what your “why” is). If your are writing three things you are grateful for each day, then writing in the morning gives you the added benefit of putting you in a great mindset for the day ahead.
Or, if you have time in the day that you know you could set aside, perhaps a train ride to work or waiting to pick up the kids, then keep your journal where you can always make use of the time. If you work in an office, it’s a great idea to journal in your lunch break so you’re forced to get up and find a spot in the sun (or under cover in the rain!) and get some fresh air.
Whatever routine that helps you to journal daily is the best routine!
Ready to give it a go?
If I’ve convinced you why you should give journaling a go :), how about committing to 30 days of writing. See how you go! Make sure you have thought about why you want to write, and if you have more than one why, grab a few journals to keep everything in it’s right place!