For years I have journalled and can report positive benefits from doing so when I am in a habit of journaling regularly. Like many things, it requires a routine of building a habit to be able to see results. I certainly know when I have forgotten to journal as my brain and vision feel more ‘foggy’.
So, let’s talk, what is journaling?
One thing that many people associate with the term journaling is the regular writing of a diary, but that alone doesn’t catch it. Journaling is much more. It can loosely be defined as regularly reflecting on something and writing things down, whether it is in a paper notebook or even using your phone or laptop! I personally recommend pen and paper as it is better to visualise and feel like it is leaving your mind onto the paper and writing and reading it reinforces that.
This general definition makes it such a versatile tool that can fulfil more functions than you think!
- Creative factory
Journaling can tremendously improve your creativity and idea generation. As Thomas Edison said “Never go to sleep without a request to your subconscious.” When you are asleep, the subconscious mind keeps working and connects the dots to present solutions and answers to any problems. You may find when waking up you feel better about some problems you went to bed with the previous day, and you may feel your head is clearer. This is a moment again to write things down and collect your thoughts, ie. journaling. This is how enormous creative potential can be released, solutions to problems are found, interesting ideas can be captured on paper and the important mindset shift from a reactive to a proactive lifestyle, from the very start of the day, takes place.
- Thought dump
On a similar note, journaling can serve as a place where to dump your thoughts to simply get them out of your mind, whether it is in the morning or the evening. This for me is a hugely useful tool, especially when I am very busy with lots of plans and feel a little overwhelmed.
- Grounding your goals
Sounds a little bit silly but you can use a journal as the perfect place to write down your values and priorities.. You can either use your daily journaling sessions to think about what your values are or schedule long term goals. Every Sunday you can write down what you want to achieve the following week, at the start of the month you can plan your month, and again even more so at the start of a year.
Once you gained some clarity about your values and created a vision for life, write it down and make sure to revisit it as part of your journaling sessions. Especially in the morning this contributes to getting yourself up and out. It essentially puts things into perspective and lets you focus on what matters most. When you’re not feeling it, it will help you overlook everything and feel focussed.
- Aspirations & Goals
Similar to grounding your goals in a little map, goal setting is essential to connect your long-term life vision with what you can do here and now, and how you are going to get to where you want to be. This can sound scary and daunting, but without it, it is so easy to keep ‘plodding’. Start with your end goal in mind and work backwards. Break your long term goal down; let’s think: yearly, monthly, weekly and then daily goals.
I find creating a to-do list the day before is crucial, and anything that’s left on that list I can carry over to the following day/week if it’s not a priority. A top tip would also be if you have something you need to get done and keep putting it off, put this task on top of your list and make sure to tackle it directly after your morning routine. This is the time where your brain is most capable, levels of willpower are the highest and it will make the rest of the day much easier and feel accomplished.
- 5. Accountability
Journaling can be a great way to hold yourself accountable to you. If you are struggling with what to write or where to get started when you go to a journal, these can be a great way to start!
- What was good about today?
- What are you grateful for?
- What could I improve?
- Did I live up to my standards and values?
- What did I get done?
- How far would I get towards my long term vision if every day looked like this?
Getting into a routine will make it a habit and second nature. Sometimes your mind will just want to write some things down and you may shock yourself with what you write down.
Regularly expressing gratitude in these more recent years often gets overlooked in our busy daily lives. However, it can heavily contribute to your well-being and overall life satisfaction.
I make it part of your all journaling sessions, especially in the evening reflecting on the day. It may be things that happened to you during the day or subtle things like food, family, health, the weather! Writing these things down before bed allows you to enter a state of relaxation and therefore ends the day on a positive note, with a better chance of sleeping well which also contributes to better mental health.
So, where to go from here; buy a notepad, buy a pen, and let your mind relax and do the rest.
Written by Amy Rosanna @amyrosannaruns