…or should I say fingers to keys? Whichever way you journal, getting the thoughts out of your head and onto the page before you is a powerful tool for mental clarity, perspective and calm.
Having always found writing to be a positive expression of emotion, it’s something I’ve dipped in and out of throughout my entire life, whether it be writing songs, poetry, short stories or blog posts. However, after hearing about the benefits of daily journaling from others, I decided to give it a go this week.
Disclaimer: get ready to confront some honest truths if you’re new to this…
My initial finding was that morning journaling provided an opportunity to note a variety of emotional and physical feelings without too much distraction as the day was yet to begin. I noticed myself paying attention to how my body felt immediately upon waking before getting out of bed. I noticed which thoughts sprang to mind and how I felt after looking at my to-do list for the remaining week.
It allowed me to pinpoint the main sources of stress and worry, and it also allowed me to praise my dedication and productivity from the previous day (self praise is something I’m working on). It encouraged me to drink more water to avoid feeling dehydrated, and it also proved quite telling when it came to difficult emotions. All highly beneficial to being even happier, healthier and more productive. Although, there was one unexpectedly challenging element that came from the activity.
You see, after a lot of practice I’m now extremely good at internalising challenging emotions, assessing the situation and deciding how I’m going to react (which can be both a blessing a curse, as the small things can build up). Most of the time, things don’t warrant a big song and dance, but rereading my journal entry from the previous day or revisiting how I felt about something that happened yesterday has helped me see that what I feel matters, even if it’s small.
If it’s something you’ve been meaning to try, or if you simply find writing quite cathartic, I encourage you to give it a go. Here are my top three tips:
Ensure you write in a place that you know you can keep hidden from prying eyes. If we think someone else may discover our journal, we’re likely to hold back in our writing. Depending on what works best for you, consider a Word or Google Doc, a notebook or the notes section of your phone.
Some mornings you’ll find that the words flow easily, but others can take a bit of encouragement. Set a timer or an allocated amount of time aside for journaling and encourage yourself to write whatever comes to mind. You may feel a little silly initially if you’re not used to opening up or find it difficult to put into words, but this non-judgemental time allowance isn’t there to produce an eloquent masterpiece, it’s to see if there’s a thought hiding that needs some gentle persuasion to be released or acknowledged.
Stuck for inspiration? Try to make a few notes on the following:
- How your body physically feels
- Your state of mind
- Whether you had a strong waking thought and if this filled you with dread or happiness
- Reflections on key events from yesterday
- Positive intentions for the day ahead
It’s up to you what you do with your journal and findings from it. From my one-week trial, I’ve discovered that I need to prioritise my negative emotions more in a constructive way, voicing when something’s left me highly frustrated or upset, rather than sweeping it under the carpet. And it’s also reconfirmed my feelings that I need to get a better work-life balance and make more time for the important people in my life.
I hope you find journaling a useful tool. If you try it out, let me know how you found it.