I’ve always loved journaling, but before this year I’d never made it a regular habit. It was usually something I’d pick up whenever I bought a new journal, but after the initial buzz of ‘oooh, pretty blank pages’ wore off I’d lose my enthusiasm. The journal would end up cast aside, usually never to be seen again.
But then this January I made daily journal writing part of my Intention Plan (my monthly plan to live with intention and love) and I’m pretty proud to say that since then I’ve managed to write in my journal almost every day.
What I’ve learned after several months of consistently writing is that my journal is one of the most powerful ways I practice self care. Without fail, journaling almost always improves my mood, leaving me feeling calm, centred and capable.
Because I know how tough it is to start (and stick with) a journaling habit, I wanted to share with you a few of the ways I use my journal for self care. I think one of the biggest road blocks is not knowing where to start with writing, so hopefully you’ll find a few of these super simple ideas/prompts helpful in your self care practice (and if so be sure to let me know in the comments!)
OBSERVE + EXPLORE YOUR FEELINGS
Have you ever caught yourself having one of those out of nowhere, ‘please don’t talk to me, look at me, or touch me’, everything’s driving you crazy, bad mood sort of days – but you have no idea why?
(Slowly puts hand up …)
I know when I’m feeling this way it’s easy to write it off as ‘waking up on the wrong side of the bed’ or ‘just feeling off’ but I’ve found that when I take time to examine my feelings I can usually find there is a specific worry or problem that needs to be addressed.
And trust me, in the long run this is much more productive than writing it off to some sort of bad mood fairy. So instead of brushing it off, I use journaling to help me dig deeper and get to the root of the problem.
WRITING PROMPT: “How do I feel?” (And let your heart pour out.)
Be honest with yourself; I often start with is “I’m having a bad day, but I don’t know why” or “I wish a plague would wipe out the human population so I could have a few minutes of peace.” (Just kidding … sort of.) But from there I explore different ideas, let my feelings flow without filter or judgement, and write.
I almost always find that with time I can distill my negative feelings down to a specific cause (such as resentment, jealousy, self doubt, or disappointment) and that awareness helps me to address the issue head on (or to simply accept what I cannot change.)
RELATED POSTS: 4 Ways to Stop Letting the Little Things Bother You
CLEAR YOUR MIND
I learned a few weeks ago that one of the greatest acts of self care is enjoying a quiet mind; it’s such a luxurious feeling to stem the tide of to do lists, emails and ideas running though your head and to just STOP thinking. The silence is priceless.
One simple way to find this silence is to do a brain dump – open your journal to a blank page and let loose; write down everything that is on your mind until there is nothing left.
When I’m done writing I usually feel tired, but in that good, post-workout sort of way. I know that my thoughts/worries/to-do list are safe and sound, so I can just relax, let go, and enjoy the moment.
WRITE A GRATITUDE LIST
Practicing gratitude is an act of self care because it shifts your mindset from one of scarcity to one of abundance. Instead of feeling stressed and worried about what you feel your life is lacking, you feel blessed and thankful for all that your life is made of.
A simple way to start practicing gratitude to write lists of everything that you’re thankful for in your journal. It’s a simple yet power way to ease your mind and lift your spirits.
FURTHER READING: If you’re interested in reading more about creating a daily gratitude practice, check out this post from my friend Daisy at Simplicity Relished.
I have a rather unfortunate habit of beating myself up when I make mistakes. I’m pretty sure that, sadly, I’m not the only one.
When I make a mistake at work, or say something awkward around new friends, or make a regrettable impulse purchase, I dwell on it and my inner voice can sometimes be a nasty piece of work.
But I am getting better at being kind to myself and through journaling I’m learning to:
- accept that I’m human and imperfect.
- forgive myself.
Journaling works for me because it helps me remove myself from the situation and view it objectively. (Sometimes I even think of myself in the 3rd person, because let’s face it – for some reason we are so much more forgiving to others than we are to ourselves.) When I look from the outside in it helps me to accept what has happened, move on, and most importantly forgive myself.
INDULGE IN YOUR DREAMS
I think that sometimes it’s scary to indulge in big dreams. For example, I dreamed about starting a blog for a really long time, but I was scared to tell anyone about it. I was afraid of looking silly and I had a lot of self doubt.
So instead I wrote about it. It was so therapeutic to explore my dreams and ideas in a safe place without fear of judgement and even better – with time, manifesting my dreams helped me grow the confidence I needed to launch the blog.
WRITING PROMPT: “What would you do if you weren’t afraid …”
However you use your journal, my best advice is to pick it up and write. Don’t be afraid of getting those pretty white pages messy, just scribble whatever comes to mind (start with your grocery list, song lyrics, a rant against your neighbour – whatever.)
Journaling encourages self awareness and once you understand your needs, you can start to take care of yourself.
How do you use your journal or what are your self care tips? Let me know in the comments! x
photo credit : Karolina Grabowska // Used with permission