One of my favourite ways to process my thoughts is through journaling. I love it because for me, writing my thoughts feels much easier than saying them, and when I journal and look back at what I have read, the tangled threads that were in my mind seem to unravel and begin to make sense. So while I share my thoughts with you through this blog, they have always found their way into my journal first.
Journaling has been proven to have many benefits. It is an excellent tool for self-expression, reflection, and growth and can to process and understand thoughts, emotions, and experiences in a safe and private way. Today I want to explore the benefits of starting a journaling practice, provide some tips to get started, and offer a few prompts which focus on gratitude, one of the most beneficial parts of a journaling practice.
Benefits of Journaling
- Improved Mental Health
One of the biggest benefits of journaling is the positive impact it can have on your mental health. So many of us have a lot of thoughts bouncing around in our heads. All those thoughts can increase worry and anxiety. For me, writing about the thoughts, worries, stresses I feel, reduces the power my thoughts hold over me. Writing about my emotions helps me to process and understand them better. Additionally, journaling can also be used as a form of therapy, allowing you to work through any past or present struggles safely. However, if you are working through past traumas I would recommend journaling in addition to working with a therapist who can safely guide you through the work you need to do.
- Enhanced Creativity
Journaling also serves as a creative outlet. When I journal, I am not editing or worrying whether the ideas make sense together. I am able to simply explore my imagination and express my thoughts and ideas in a free-flowing manner. Tapping into the creative part of myself has a positive impact on my well-being but also impacts my work and personal relationships as I am able to think and act more creatively in all areas of my life.
- Improved Self-Awareness
Journaling provides a space for self-reflection, allowing me to gain a deeper understanding of myself and my behaviour. Through the process of writing, I have learned so much about myself and the patterns that exist in my thoughts, emotions, choices and actions. Identifying these patterns in my thoughts and emotions has led to increased self-awareness and personal growth. With improved self-awareness, I am able to identify the things I want to change in myself and work on those things, while celebrating the parts of me that I love and that make me who I am.
- Improved Memory
Journaling can also serve as a way to improve your memory. Ok. Real talk. All I am approaching 50, I am starting to find that my memory is not always as great as it once was. Or maybe I have always been forgetful but the self-awareness I wrote about in the previous point is showing me that I don’t always remember the details of events with clarity. I am the person who must write a grocery list or I will forget the one thing I really need. So, writing and journaling about important events in my life has been important because writing about those experiences and thoughts can help me remember them more vividly and clearly. It is also helpful to look back at previous journals to remember how I was feeling, what important events happened and to see just how much my life has grown and changed.
- Increased Gratitude
Gratitude journaling, in particular, has been shown to have numerous benefits, including increased happiness and improved well-being. I was listening to a podcast yesterday and the guest was talking about heathy habits. Her advice was that people need to simplify things. In nutrition, there is no need to worry about micro-nutrients and this and that…just eat more vegetables. The same is true for improving mindset, mental well-being and resilience. Just practice more gratitude. Why does it work so well? Writing about the things we are grateful for each day can help us focus on the positive aspects of our life, reducing negative thoughts and emotions. When we focus on the positive aspects of our life, our mindset changes and then our thoughts and actions follow.
Great! So how do I get started?
Find a Journal That Works for You
The first step to starting a journaling practice is to find a journal that works for you. I love starting a new journal. When I look for one, I try to find one that speaks to my heart, but any notebook can work. Some people prefer to keep an electronic journal and that is perfectly okay too. For me, there is something about connecting my head and heart to a page through a pen that feels joyful and therapeutic. There are many different types of journals available, including lined journals, blank journals, and guided journals with prompts to get you started. Choose one that feels right for you and that you will enjoy using.
Set a Regular Journaling Time
Once you have found a journal that works for you, it is important to set a regular journaling time. This could be once a day, once a week, or even once a month. I like to journal first thing in the morning, to start my day with gratitude and clarity. But for you, it may be best to write in the evening to unpack the day you just had. The key is to make journaling a regular habit that you stick to, so that it becomes an integral part of your life.
Start Small and Simple
It can be intimidating to start journaling, especially if you are new to it. It may feel silly to be “talking to yourself” but our bodies and minds hold on to the words we tell ourselves in the same way we hold on to the words others tell us. If we speak to ourselves with judgement and unkindness, our bodies and minds believe what we say which affects how we move in the world. The same is true when we speak to ourselves with compassion and understanding, holding ourselves accountable for our actions, forgiving ourselves for the mistakes we have made. To make the process easier, start small and simple. Write about something that is on your mind, or simply write a few sentences about your day. As you get more comfortable with journaling, you can gradually increase the amount you write and the complexity of your thoughts.
Gratitude Journaling Prompts
As I mentioned earlier, gratitude is the one type of journaling that can have the greatest positive impact on our outlook, our mindset and our well-being. Here are a few simple gratitude journaling prompts if you would like to get started but don’t know how to begin:
- What are you grateful for today?
- Write about a time when someone showed you kindness.
- What are three things you are thankful for in your life right now?
- Write about a moment in your life when you felt truly grateful.
- What are five small things you are grateful for today?
Starting a journaling practice can have numerous benefits, including improved mental health, enhanced creativity, increased self-awareness, improved memory, and increased gratitude. By finding a journal that works for you, setting a regular journaling time, and starting small and simple, you can begin your journey with journaling and experience its many benefits for yourself. Whether you are writing about your thoughts and emotions, exploring your imagination, or focusing on gratitude, journaling can provide a safe and supportive space for self-expression and growth. If you are interested in learning more about journaling and its benefits, let me know. I would be happy to share some resources with you.
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