Do you want to start journaling but are feeling stuck on getting started? If so you’re not alone and I am excited to share some tips on how you can begin and stick with journaling for your mental wellness as a self-care practice!
Journaling can help to alleviate anxiety, increase mental clarity, relieve stress, spark creativity, help us face our biggest fears and process the many events and emotions in life. My suggestion would be to jot down some of these notes in your journal to get you started on making your pen hit the paper…
Here are 6 practical Tips to help you get started:
1. Set an intention for your journal practice. Ask yourself why you wanted to start journaling and what you hope you will get out of it. We are more likely to stick to a practice that has personal meaning to us.
2. Don’t wait for perfect. You do not need the perfect words, thoughts, or eloquent sentences. You don’t need a setting that looks like something on Pinterest either (you know the pretty desk, coffee mug, succulent plants, cute journal and a window with a pretty scenery outside).
3. Keep your journal somewhere easily accessible. Keep it by your nightstand so it’s there waiting for you when you get up and go to bed. Incorporate journaling into your morning or evening routine to help you get your day started and wind down in the evening. Check out Julia Cameron creator of Morning Pages for more ideas on this…http://juliacameronlive.com/basic-tools/morning-pages/
4. Use journal prompts/ quotes/scripture to get you started.Prompts are helpful when you feel like you do not know what to say or feel like you don’t have anything to say. I have listed 10 prompts that foster self-awareness and positive thinking. If you like to read you can pick a quote or scripture that you are pondering and write about what it means to you and how you intend to apply it.
5. Find a journal that you like and are inspired by…in doing so you are more likely to want to open it! (Check out www.journaljunky.com for some beautiful handcrafted journals by Nicole Annette:@journaljunky she is also a wonderful resource for journaling tips and inspiration!
6. Incorporate movement and spirituality into your journal practice. Before writing you can…. Do some yoga…pray… meditate….read scriptures go on a nature walk! We know that our body holds much emotion and moving it can help us to express and tap into the emotions, memories and story it is holding.
7. Thank yourself! Thank yourself for taking this step in caring and loving on yourself in this way. This is something only you can do for yourself in this self-awareness/self-love journey!
Emotional intelligence is a way of recognizing, understanding, and choosing how we think, feel, and act. It shapes our interactions with others and our understanding of ourselves. It defines how and what we learn; it allows us to set priorities; it determines the majority of our daily actions- J. Freedman
What emotions did you feel as you went about your day today? Often we can go through the day so quickly without giving much attention to how we feel emotionally (or physically). As you begin to journal express in sentences, single words or pictures what you are feeling and where in your body you feel it.
Be patient with yourself, sometimes just noticing the sensations in your body can help to express or identify emotions. Do so with curiosity and not judgement. This is a practice of turning inward, being present, and being compassionate with yourself. Allowing yourself to feel is one of the most -kind things you can do for yourself.
Check out one of my favorite resources on emotional intelligence (you can order the deck of cards that goes along with it on the authors’ website!) Language of Emotions by Karla McLaren
Create Space-Mental Clarity
Writing your thoughts on paper can help to sort them and unclutter your mind so that you can choose what you want to focus on. Use your journal to unpack your thoughts, beliefs, worries, fears and dreams.
When you have written everything you want to down ask yourself which are serving you and the direction you would like your life to go in and which are not? Is what you wrote down in alignment with who you want to be and how you want to feel?—keep what is and let go of what is not to make room for new thoughts that do.
Make room for truth, self-affirmations, hope, dreams and love.
“Our greatest weapon against stress is our ability to choose one thought over another”- William James
Write down each day something you are grateful for. A positive mindset is a habit and building it takes intentionality and practice. Be specific about what you are grateful for and why! This is practice of noticing the positive things within yourself and within your life can help generate more energy and hope. This kind of positivity doesn’t mean we never acknowledge those areas in our life that need our attention to change, instead it helps us to open our mind to see solutions and possibilities.
Letter to loved one/self
Writing letters to yourself is a very powerful practice. You can reflect and write a letter to your younger self. What would he or she need to hear from you right now.
Who are they what are they like? What do they think of you? What would they ask? What would you like to tell them? Some examples of what your younger self may have needed to hear but didn’t hear enough of:
• You are enough
• You matter
• You can
• You didn’t deserve that
• You are worthy of love
Another idea is write a love letter to yourself right now.
What do you love about yourself and what do you hope for yourself. Encourage and affirm yourself with your words. Refer back to this when you are feeling down to remind yourself you are loved.
You can also write a letter to a loved one who may no longer be here on this earth. Express gratitude, love, memories, sadness, anger…. welcome any and all emotions to the paper. Try not to edit and overthink what you write down.
This is a practice of reflection and taking time to turn inward and explore the different parts of yourself…this is an act of self-love and self-awareness. Continue to love, stay curious and welcome all of you!