I’ve written a lot about the importance of selfcare and how writing can be an incredible way to manage your emotions. Even though we know it helps reduce stress and improve our mental health, have you ever considered how to get the most benefit from it? In this post, I’ll walk you through my process of journaling, and then show you how to reflect upon what you’ve written, and how to use it to your advantage as a self-reflective tool in six simple steps.
I journaled for many years, sometimes on a regular basis and sometimes not so regular. And in all that time, do you know what I learnt about myself? Nothing! While it was a great tool for me to understand my emotions and allowed me to dig deep into how they affected me, I never developed any inner awareness, or learnt how to resolve problems.
My mum died when I was a teenager and journaling became my confidant. It enabled me to escape the overwhelming grief and gave my consuming thoughts an outlet. This period of my life has now become my greatest tool as a writer. It taught me how to portray emotions effectively, becoming my first training ground for developing characters. With time, my life improved and my journaling become infrequent and patchy. This was my first big mistake.
To gain the most out of journaling it is essential to use it consistently. It doesn’t have to be every day, which can seem daunting, it could be once a week, but sticking to it on a regular basis . Otherwise, like me, you’ll find yourself journaling sporadically and I can’t tell you how ineffective this will be.
Get out of a rut.
Sometimes journaling can become a chore, perhaps you simply don’t know what to write about. Journal about the mundane, the stuck place, the difficult work colleague, the wonderful summer, or about how flattered you were by a passing compliment. Just keep it going.
Use some of these prompts to get you going:
- What was the most challenging part of your day?
- Write 3 affirmations that help you align with your goals.
- Write a special memory, then write about how this has influenced your life.
- Use your favourite motivational quote and expand on it… why is it relevant to you and your life, how does it help?
- What is you goal, what steps are you taking towards it, and most importantly what has the journey so far taught you?
- Write 5 things about yourself that you love? Now write about what thoughts and feelings came up as you did this exercise.
Why? Because it pushes positivity into your journal and therefore into our minds. It brightens patches of our lives that perhaps we’re struggling with. It gives hope! Taking a different perspective of your life can help you appreciate the things you take for granted. Add one thing you’re grateful for into each entry, and see the difference it makes.
We encounter many problems in life, and some seem insurmountable. By journaling consistently, you’ll begin to clearly see the issues you face, therefore, you can begin to find solutions. Do you need to have an awkward conversation with a friend? Write about what you plan to say, and about your desired outcome. This should bring clarity and relief. Maybe the problem can’t be fixed, maybe it’s something you have to come to terms with like an illness or a loss. Instead, write about how you plan to take care of yourself. Consider areas where you’re being to hard on yourself and practise self-love, allowing yourself to lessen the burdens that hail you.
Self-reflect and review your process.
It’s important to read back, or skim, your journal. Look at everything that’s transpired over the last, week, month or even year – depending on when you choose to review. Imagine you’re the author, and that each entry has been made by your main character. What journey have you been on? What patterns can you see arising? What problems have you resolved and what can you learn from the process. Are you coping with a difficult situation? Are you happier than you’ve previously been? View everything with curiosity and wonder, turn off the self-criticism and really allow yourself compassion and understanding. Keep exploring, and remember you’ll discover far more about yourself if you’re kind.
Do you Journal? If so, do you have any other tips to share? Or, maybe you’ve never journaled, but you’re toying with the idea; are you ready to give it a go? Don’t be shy, share your journey with me, you know I love hearing from you.
Thanks for stopping by, until next time, Much Love.