Fewer things make my clients stare at me with a look of reluctance and skepticism as do my suggestions to journal. Some people swear by it, but many others avoid it like “The Rona”. I hear clients say things like, “I don’t have time to journal” in one breath and then talk about how they lost an hour of their life taking a mindless deep-dive into Instagram in the next. I also hear, “I don’t know what to write” or “it doesn’t work”. And I have to admit, I have said these things to myself in the past. But once I learned what works for me, it became easier. Dare I say, even…enjoyable.
Journaling does not come easily to everyone, but the insane number of benefits it has to offer makes it worth trying. It has been proven to reduce stress, improve your mood, sharpen your memory, reduce depression and anxiety symptoms, improve immune functioning, help you to become more in tune with your emotions, make you more self aware and much, much more.
The benefits of journaling cannot be ignored. So here are my tips on how to get started.
1. Set a Reasonable and Realistic Goal
5 minutes is more than enough time to reap the benefits of getting your inner thoughts out of you. Schedule journaling into your day. It can be part of a morning or evening routine. You can do it while drinking your coffee. You can do it on your lunch break. Find the time that works best for you, set a timer for 5 minutes and see what happens. If the timer goes off and you want to continue writing, go for it! If not, you can stop and know you did it. Woohoo! And if you miss a day or two, do not worry. You can pick it up again the next day, or maybe at a different time than you had scheduled that same day, and still benefit from it. In fact, I have a little secret for you. Journaling only once a week has been proven to be effective. Remind yourself of that if you happen to fall off of the journaling wagon.
2. Think Outside The Box
There is something very special that happens when you write your thoughts and feelings down on a piece of paper. Seeing your words written in your own handwriting can help to give you perspective and distance from something that moments ago felt very real and rigid. However, you can get similar benefits from typing your feelings and thoughts. Start a note in your phone or a blog instead. You can also take a video of yourself speaking your truth out loud. A video journal can be very effective. Or using a daily planner as a place to jot down what is going on within you, can work. Throw the rules out of the window and do what works for you.
3. Use Journal Prompts
Not knowing what to write seems to come up a lot. So take the mystique out of journaling and find some prompts to inspire you. A simple question can spark a wonderfully insightful response. Try to be thoughtful and dig deep with your answers. This will help you to discover your voice and uncover what lies below the surface of your automatic thoughts. I have included a list of prompts to get you started. CLICK HERE.
And there you have it. Try these simple tips, be open to the experience and see what comes out of this new exercise.