I’ve noticed that the reason people don't maintain their journaling routine after trying it for the first time is that they don’t know how or find that the structure they have followed doesn't work for them and they feel they have failed. There is no one right way to do write a journal, and it takes time to find your style.
Journaling can be an excellent tool not only to be more organised, intentional, mindful but also space where you can truly be yourself, where you can grow and develop. Your journal won't judge you; your journal won't tell you what you should or shouldn't do. It simply provides you with a space for self-exploration, where you can discover who you truly are and see the beautiful, unique human being inside of you. It's a space with great potential to find acceptance from the most important person in your life - yourself! But like every good relationship, it needs to be regular and consistent. And like in every good relationship, it can be so much fun too!
There are many ready to go journals with prompts, available out there, and they are all different. But what I find the most beneficial and what gives me the most freedom is just an empty notebook. Discovering your style and what works for you is a process, and a simple notebook gives you a lot of freedom. And that's precious! You can try different prompts and test it for yourself or change it every day if you want. You can keep it minimal or get creative with colours, doodles, stickers, pictures, anything that inspires you. If you are truly engaged with your journal, it can really reflect your personality. And opening your journal during stressful, hectic times is like a homecoming. You are finding yourself again and again in this busy world, filled with opinions, and never-ending ideas on how to live and how to be.
Here you will find some tips that I hope will help you to find your style, have fun and be consistent with your journaling routine.
- Make it regular - check what the best time for your journaling session is. Is it morning or evening? Can you do 5min, 15min or 30min? It doesn't matter how long and when you do it, as long as it's working for you. It's essential to enjoy and benefit from it instead of treating it as another "to do" on your list. Or you can be flexible - pick it up as you need during the day for a short session and perhaps schedule longer journaling session once per week, as a part of your self-care routine or reflecting on the week.
- Journaling can be a valuable resource to get in touch with yourself. Assess it for yourself how you want to benefit from it. You can use it as a self-development and self-reflection tool, to express your creativity, to be more mindful, centred and intentional, or you can use your journal for problem-solving and tracking your goals.
- Make it your way - try various ideas, templates and prompts. Don't be put off if something doesn't work for you. That's ok, as there are so many options to choose from. You don't have to be like everyone else. You can mix and match, copy and change after trying it out.
- Colour coding. Some of my clients find it very helpful to use a colour system for some aspects of their journal. If you suffer anxiety or depression and your mood varies depending on the day, marking your good days or achievements in one specific colour can serve as your anchor, your hope during those low days. It can be a struggle to bring back any examples and memories of positive states and achievements when you feel overwhelmed by feelings of depression, apathy or fear. It may seem like it's a constant state like it was never different and will never change. But tracking my client's states and moods gives me a great insight - that it's not true, and they know it too! In this low state, this information is not available in your conscious mind. Having it marked with a specific colour in your journal makes it easier to recall and build different perspective in your mind. That is the first step to take you out from this dark place!
- Practice being non-judgemental towards yourself. There is no perfect way to keep a journal. This journal is for you, it's private, and it's not for anyone else to see without your permission, or judge it too! Watch out for your inner critical voice or any perfectionist tendencies. This is a great way to start working on it. Catch it when it says: that is not a great choice of words, or your handwriting is terrible; don't let it sabotage your progress! None of these matters!
- Limit the time that you spend on writing about negative states, difficult emotions or self-limiting beliefs. Offloading can bring relief and take all these negativity out of your mind and heart but if not done with the intention to shift these states and transform them to something more beneficial, can make you feel stuck in it. Set a timer e.g. 5min or 10min. This will prevent you from overthinking. After that set time, just let it go and immediately as a next step focus on something positive or constructive, like brainstorming solutions, recalling examples of how you've coped in the past using your skills and resources or expressing gratitude. That way you keep it more realistic and more importantly this simple process can truly empower you!
- Be honest with yourself. There is no point in doing that if you are pretending. Your journal is your space for self-reflection, self-acceptance and growth. Before any change, comes awareness of the deep, real reason for certain problems and acceptance of this situation as a fact. By being aware, you own it; and it doesn't control you any more if you pay attention. There might be some sad or ugly stuff coming to the surface, but that's life, that is being a human and we are together in it. Bringing it to the consciousness is the first step to change and there are plenty of resources you can use to help yourself in this process. As soon as you own it and know that just one element doesn't define you as a person, you will be ok. I believe in you!
Let me know if you already keep a journal and how you benefit from it. Or perhaps you feel inspired now to start your own journey with journaling?
Also, I've prepared for you some self-discovery journaling prompts, it's a great way to make sure you stay aligned with your True Self. Print it out, keep in your journal and use regularly. Enjoy! 🙂