Journaling is a life-changing habit that contributes to your health and personal development. In fact, researchers say that it has amazing health benefits. Through journaling, we begin to let go of our negative thoughts, we clear our minds, and we get new perspectives on our problems. It can even speed up the emotional recovery after a break-up or another unfortunate event.
If you are new to journaling, this article will teach you how to start writing, how to do it regularly, and what some of the most effective journaling methods are. Perhaps you have thought about starting journaling before, but you never had the time, or you began but failed to do it regularly.
Don’t worry; I’ve got your back. Here are my tips for getting started with journaling and turning it into a habit:
1. Start small
When thinking about journaling, most people imagine filling pages and pages with structured and beautifully written stories. That’s probably not going to happen, at least not in the beginning.
Don’t set high expectations. Write as much as you want to, and don’t overthink it. In the beginning, it is important to form a habit, even if you write three lines or three pages a day.
2. You don’t necessarily need a paper journal
While it is recommended to write on paper, as it stimulates the reticular activating system and improves our focus, it is not mandatory to do so. You can use your laptop, your phone, or any other type of device—whatever works best for you. In fact, researchers have shown that blogging triggers dopamine release.
Regardless of the method you are using, the purpose of journaling is to write down your thoughts; where and how you do it is less important.
3. Write about gratitude
There’s always something to be grateful about, and it’s a pity that sometimes we fail to see it. Contemplating the good things in our life and writing about them lifts our spirits and brings us positive energy.
Therefore, whenever you’ve got writer’s block, or you feel down, try to write about gratitude. This practice can be life-changing, as it can help us gain a new perspective on our life. Even if we are going through a bad situation, there’s something good we can learn from there. Furthermore, we get the chance to remind ourselves about the good things that we might otherwise take for granted.
A popular technique consists in creating lists with the things we are grateful for. You can choose a certain area in your life, or you can analyze the positive aspects of your life from a general perspective.
4. Schedule your journaling
It is important to fit journaling into your daily routine in order to make sure that you actually do it regularly. While it is recommended to do it in the morning or before going to sleep, you can really do it anytime. The important thing is to make a habit out of it and not skip it.
Also, don’t get stuck if you are feeling uninspired. Ideas will come as you write. Just write about whatever is on your mind.
5. Write for your eyes only
Journaling should be very personal. We sometimes tend to hold back from expressing our real thoughts because we are afraid that someone might see them.
Let go of this fear and make sure that you keep your journal private. Journaling can be therapeutic, but it’s important to be honest with ourselves to cultivate self-awareness and let go of our negative thoughts.
6. Do stream of consciousness journaling
Stream of consciousness journaling means that you write whatever is on your mind. This technique is extremely beneficial if you are feeling anxious. It helps you clear your mind and order your thoughts. By doing this, you might even discover ideas you did not know you were having.
7. Write out affirmations
Affirmations are a great way to remind yourself about the positive aspects of your life. Furthermore, they help you encourage yourself and boost your spirit.
In order for this to work, make sure that you write down only affirmations you really believe in. Don’t just google them, but rather think about what is important for you. Use short sentences that reflect your beliefs and priorities. Also, try to write affirmations in the present tense and keep them positive.
8. Use journaling prompts
People often postpone journaling because they feel uninspired. That’s why it’s a good idea to use journaling prompts every time you don’t know what to write. There are many types of content you can include in your journal—lists, unsent letters, monthly goals, and so on.
There are a lot of journaling prompts available online, and you can filter your searches based on your preferences. The possibilities are endless; you just need to find the motivation to start writing.
9. Create a feelings wheel
Add a feelings wheel at the end or the beginning of your journal and track how you feel day by day. This is an easy exercise recommended for beginners that helps you acknowledge how you feel and analyze your mood swings over a period of time.
This can also give you a better understanding of what triggered certain emotions. By analyzing this, we learn what situations to avoid and what to do to feel better.
10. Make it personal
If you feel like drawing in your journal, do it. If there are certain random quotes or lyrics you like, write them down. There are no rules when it comes to journaling. Your journal is supposed to be your safe space, so you can do whatever you want.
Furthermore, creating a journal that matches your personality and that has no self-expression boundaries will make you more willing to return to it regularly.
The main purpose of journaling is to make you feel better. So relax, don’t overthink it. Write as much as you want and be honest with yourself. The more you enjoy the process, the more it will benefit you. For more inspiration you can read Reinvent Yourself through Journaling
So what are you waiting for? Start this journey of self-discovery and let me know how it’s going in the comments below!