Have you taken a moment to really reflect on the thoughts that go through your head?
Growing up, I used to always write in diaries. I still have a journal that I wrote in when I was in 5th grade and oh boy is it entertaining to read through.
Of course, 10-year-old me didn’t have a clue how writing your thoughts out in a journal can be beneficial for you. Now 15 years later, after picking up the habit again, I realize that little Angela was on to something.
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Putting feelings into words and words onto paper is a powerful tool to help us be more in tune with ourselves and ignite change. Call me old-fashioned but the physical act of putting pen to paper makes us slow down and turn inwards like no keyboard can ever do.
Last week I wrote about how I use journaling to improve my mood when I’m feeling down. While writing that post, I realized that journaling helps me gain clarity, feel lighter, and connect with myself on a deeper level.
When I started journaling again, I always thought I was doing it wrong. While there is no right or wrong, today I want to share with you some useful ways to help you get the most out of journaling.
How to get the most out of journaling
1. Create a sacred place
Find a place that is quiet, inviting, and relaxing. You’re much more likely to get in “the zone” in a sacred area rather than in a noisy, cluttered, and stressful place. If your living room is poorly lit and you can hear the neighbor’s TV, go to another room. If your bedroom is the perfect place but it’s cluttered, make it inviting by cleaning it up. Here are some other fun ideas to creating your sacred place.
Remember journaling is your “me time” so treat it like it. This is your time to uncover and express your innermost thoughts. Once you find your sacred place, you can choose to play soft music, diffuse essential oils, turn on your salt lamp – do whatever you need to do to make it an enjoyable, relaxing activity that you look forward to.
Read this next: How to Prioritize Self-Care And Make Time For Yourself
2. Find your journaling style
Some people like using writing prompts, others like to free-write. Some people like writing paragraphs, some like writing lists. Some people like to write for hours, others only for 5 minutes. There are so many different ways to journal and the best part is that there are no rules.
To find what journaling style works best for you, you’ll have to experiment a little bit. If you’re just starting out, I always recommend starting with a guided journal with writing prompts. Pick one that stands out to you. Here are some of my favorite:
If you think you’re going to forget to write, a great way to get yourself in the habit is to keep your journal on your nightstand. Most of us tend to have 5 minutes to spare right before bed and it’s the perfect way to wind down.
Finding what works for you and your lifestyle is how you’ll stay consistent with it.
Read this next: 8 Tips For Building Habits That StickHow to get the most out of journaling to become more in tune with yourself Click To Tweet
3. Take the pressure off
Let go of the assumptions and expectations you have towards journaling. Remember, there’s no right or wrong way to journal. You don’t need to be a good writer, journal every day, or write for hours.
Will your journal be messy? Yes. Will it make sense? Maybe. Forget about complete sentences, grammar, and punctuation rules. Remember your journal is for your eyes only.
Honestly, my handwriting in my journal looks like chicken scratch. I’m not worried about it looking pretty, I just want to capture my thoughts as quickly as they flow.
When I start to overthink it, I remind myself that it’s only a tool to help me reflect on my days on a deeper level and that I have the freedom to make it as simple as I want.
4. Be real with yourself and don’t censor
When you journal it feels therapeutic because it helps you digest and let go of the thoughts and emotions that you experience every day. If you censor yourself, you’re not letting yourself get the most out of it.
The best thing you can do to start journaling is to write whatever comes to mind. Turn inwards and reflect on what’s really going on inside. When we feel self-conscious or critical of ourselves, we tend to shy away from those thoughts instead of running towards them.
No matter if you think your thoughts are embarrassing, disappointing, or shameful – let your words flow without second-guessing yourself. Greet your thoughts with compassion and understanding so you can become more in tune with yourself.
You’ll often find that you’ll feel a great sense of relief when you release those feelings and come to term with them.When you journal, you'll often find that you’ll feel a great sense of relief when you release your feelings and come to term with them. Click To Tweet
5. Look for revelations
Journaling brings us clarity and often helps us discover what we want more and less of in our lives. As I mentioned in this post, I often come out of journaling and find that I have an answer to how I want to move forward with my emotions. I find myself writing and I suddenly have a moment when I think, “Wow, that makes so much more sense.”
Maybe you figured out that your social anxiety comes from childhood experiences that you had forgotten about and now you know how you can better navigate those emotions when they arise.
Or maybe you realized that waking up earlier in mornings definitely has an impact on how you feel throughout the day and you want to start doing it more. Whether it’s big or small, writing out your thoughts brings you the clarity you need to make sense of who you are and who you want to be.
Go with the flow. Pay attention to the revelations when available, but remember that not every session will bring clarity. If you let it, journaling helps you gain a different perspective on life, the past, and your emotions.
Read this next: How to Set Monthly Intentions for a Positive Shift in Your Life
6. Bring yourself back to your why & adjust
Writing your thoughts out is meant to be a fun, stress-relief activity. If you start to find journaling annoying, frustrating, or useless, it’s time to go back to your why.
Why did you start journaling in the first place? How did you want to feel? Less stressed? Happier? More connected with yourself? Focus your energy on the good, the why, and the purpose.
If you’re still struggling, take a break from journaling and think about why you’re finding it difficult and unpleasant. Is it taking up too much time? Are you finding it hard to come up with something to write?
Reflect on what is causing the negative feelings and then make adjustments. Go back to #3 and take the pressure off yourself. Remind yourself that you can write for 5 minutes if you wish or that you can buy a guided journal with writing prompts to help you get the words flowing.
Make the adjustments necessary to bring yourself back to the joy of why you started journaling in the first place.
My best beginner advice: just start journaling. Start writing whatever you’re thinking at that moment and see where your thoughts take you.
Writing down your thoughts helps to make sense of your story, reconnect with yourself, and reflect on the person that you are and want to become. When you allow yourself to explore your feelings without limits, you begin to realize that the emotions you experience throughout the day become so much easier to navigate.
Now over to you … have you tried journaling? What benefits have you gotten from it?