Hi guys, I hope you’re all doing well and profiting from the warm weather! I have a different kind of post for you today that I hope will make your self-awareness journey a little easier. This is for everyone who’d like to start a journalling habit but don’t quite know what to write about yet. We’ve all been there and as someone who’s been journalling for over 5 years, I’m here to help you get started!
The Benefits of Journalling
If you’ve been holding back because a journal seems just like a diary meant for 8 year old girls, let me put your mind at ease. Writing in a journal is a great and healthy idea for people of all ages! I’ll tell you why and believe me I won’t hold back because writing has been literally life-saving for me.
- You can express your deepest emotions, fears, insecurities, etc. without fear of judgment because you’re the only one who knows. This is especially helpful if you feel as though you can’t open up about your struggles with the people close to you. Getting these things out is of the utmost importance and journalling provides an excellent, private means of doing so.
- Along the same lines, let’s say you’re very angry with someone; you can write them a letter with no-holds-barred because they won’t actually see it. It’s quite cathartic really!
- Many emotions and thoughts can feel too complicated and overwhelming to get out in speech. When we write things down it forces our mind to slow down which can help us process and communicate better.
- Similarly, this process can help us comprehend ourselves and our situation better. When feelings stay trapped inside like an undistinguishable cloud of pain, things usually only get worse. Journalling isn’t a miracle cure but it does provide an outlet for all of that toxicity.
- Practicing journalling increases self-awareness and promotes expression.
- Journalling can be used to challenge your own thinking patterns and mindset. You can do this on your own and/or use it as an aid for the work you do with your therapist.
- You can keep a time-oriented record of your thoughts, emotions, coping mechanisms, self-destructive behaviours, etc. This is essential because understanding our patterns and the why behind them is the first step to change.
Here are some ideas to inspire you in your writing to get started. Some are fairly simple and straightforward whereas others are quite complex and thoughtprovoking.
- How was your day? What did you do? What went well and what didn’t?
- What was your biggest struggle today? What was an accomplishment?
- What are you grateful for today? What are you grateful for in your life in general?
- What are the things you love the most? What makes you the most happy?
- Who in your life do you love and value the most? Why? How do they treat you and how do you treat them in return?
- Contemplate on your interpersonal relationships; have you been self-isolating (unrelated to COVID 19)? Have you been feeling especially dependent of late?
- Describe your various moods and when they tend to hit if you see a pattern.
- If you struggle with Depression, Anxiety, Bipolar, etc., describe how you experience it. I say this because we often fall into the trap of looking at mental health and mental illness as a once-size-fits-all. This is far from the case and it’s essential to see how we’re impacted on a personal level. There’s no use comparing ourselves to others – in sickness or in health.
- What personal qualities make you the happiest? What are the things you would most like to change?
- How do you speak with yourself? What are the sort of words and phrases you use? Are you highly self-critical? Where do you think this stems from? Do you feel you deserve the harsh words you use with yourself? Why?
- Are your relationships healthy or are they holding you back? Is it a bit of both? What could use improvement and what do you currently appreciate?
- How would you describe yourself to a friend? A stranger?
- What are your biggest wishes, dreams and aspirations?
- Write about your childhood.
- If you’re not an adult yet, how do you view it? Are you looking forward to it? Does it scare you?
- Keep track of your cognitive distortions: For a detailed explanation of what these are, these two articles may be helpful. Explanation and Correction.
- Describe your perfect day.
- Reflect on the places where you feel the most safe and secure.
- Do a free-write for 5 minutes where you write everything and anything that comes to mind.
- Struggling to find your words but enjoy art? Try using your journal to sketch out how you feel and then put it into words. (Bear in mind that your journal can be entirely art if you wish – it’s YOUR journal and there’s no right or wrong way of doing it!)
- Feeling guilty about a wrong-doing? Write an apology which you can use as inspiration to make amends.
- Are you having trouble letting go of the past? Try using the safety of paper to process it.
- Use your journal to work through personal forgiveness.
- If you have issues with anger, try stepping away from the situation by using your journal to cool down and think rationally before you act.
I hope these prompts can help you begin your very own journal! It may feel like a chore at the beginning but building a habit of spending even just 5 minutes of your day journalling can go a long way. Soon it’ll become a piece of self-care time in your day that you look forward to!
Have a wonderful weekend everyone!