I’ve been journaling for my mental health and self awareness for around two years now. When I started I wasn’t actually sure what the benefits would be. I put pressure on myself to make sure I was doing it ‘right.’ Firstly, there’s no specifically correct way to journal, but there’s definitely things you can do to get the most out of it and strengthen your practise. Once you understand how to journal more effectively, you’ll start to see even more benefits and find a way that works for you! From implementing certain techniques I noticed way more benefits which has helped me journal more consistently.
If you’ve read my blog post on journaling for self awareness, you’ll know I also included some tips in there. I wanted to dig a little deeper and share how you can really make the most of the time you’re spending journaling…
Read over what you’ve written
There’s something strange about reading your own thoughts on paper, it’s just not something you do (without journaling). It almost gives you a sense of detachment from yourself, and you’ll probably realise how much your thoughts can get caught up in the past or future, I definitely did. Reading over what I write is always a good reminder that I don’t have to take any thoughts on board that don’t serve me. Whether you’re feeling uncertain about something, anxious, or your body feels tense, sometimes getting that out on paper and reading over it can feel therapeutic, almost like speaking to a friend you trust.
Stop resisting what you truly want to write
This is a biggie. Journaling can feel deeply uncomfortable. Growth is not easy, it’s looking at the areas in your life you want to change and improve and growing from there. You have to acknowledge things you want to change. We’re hard wired to resist it, so naturally if you’re trying to change something in your life, it’s going to be tough to see that on paper. Keep going! The joy of journaling comes from the true insight you achieve and being able to set goals for things YOU want to do.
Another thing that may stop you from writing exactly what you want is the fear of someone finding your journal. Journaling should feel like a safe space, and it absolutely is. I know it will depend on living situations, but try to keep it in a safe place if that will put your mind at ease and allow you to write more freely.
Use prompts when you’re feeling stuck to give you a starting point
I really like the stream of consciousness style of journaling, but if you’re feeling stuck, turn to journal prompts. Feeling like you don’t know what to write can easily happen with stream of consciousness/ free writing journaling (where you have no prompts and ‘brain dump’ onto the page). In this instance you could also look at a specific moment in your day, ask yourself how that made you feel. Or, whatever it is you’re thinking about, even if it’s the fact that you’re feeling stuck and don’t know what to write! I’ve had this so many times, and it’s the starting point that always leads me onto something else.
Think about and write one good thing from your day or things you’re grateful for at the end of your journaling session
Like attracts like, when you think and feel negatively that’s all you’re able to receive. I’m a firm believe in striking a balance between the law of attraction, and the fact that we can’t be positive all of the time… However, something we can do is try to look at our day, not matter how awful and pull something positive from it. Even if it’s one thing you’ve learnt. Try to latch onto something positive that makes you feel good. I can almost guarantee you will enjoy journaling more.
Doing this helped me become more positive and optimistic over time. It made me realise that I am grateful to have certain privileges that others don’t. On the whole it gave me perspective!
Write in a way that flows for you
Writing in your journal doesn’t have to be poetic. You can write in bullet points or as messy and disjointed as you want. Forget any kind of rules when it comes to journaling, it’s about being expressive in a way that’s individual to you. Experiment with different types of writing and see how it flows! I definitely put pressure on myself to make it coherent. Remind yourself that journaling is for you. It can be hard if you’re a perfectionist, but another thing to remember is that it doesn’t have to be neat, if your spelling is off don’t worry. All of the little things you would usually pick up on, let those slide when it comes to journaling.
Set a reminder and put it on your to do list, basically, make journaling a priority
You see the benefits of journaling the more you do it. Your self awareness will start to deepen over time, and any goals you set will be at the forefront of your mind. Rushing through and seeing it as another thing to add to your to do list not only makes it less enjoyable, but adds pressure and stress that you just don’t need.
5 tips on how to be more consistent with journaling
- Keep your notebook and pen in the same place. This makes the biggest difference, it will trigger the habit and remind you to do it. Not having your pen near by (especially if you journal in bed like I do) could easily become an excuse not to journal.
- Set an alarm to remind you
- Make your space calming and frame journaling in a positive light
- Use a notebook and pen that you love writing in
- Don’t put unrealistic expectations on yourself. Had a long day? Simply write a line or two
Starting to feel like a chore? Take a break
If it’s just another thing that’s on your to do list and feels like a chore, take a break. Although it’s good to get into the habit of journaling regularly, if you’re not feeling it, it’s ok to stop. There’s definitely periods when I feel more up to it. Sometimes I’ll journal morning and night, sometimes I’ll take a few days off. Ultimately, although it can feel uncomfortable at times, it should be enjoyable and a way for you to connect with yourself.
I hope these little tips have been yourself if you’re trying to get more out of journaling. If there’s anything else that helps you let me know in the comments!
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