Journaling is like whispering to one’s self and listening at the same time. – Mina Murray
Ready, Set – Journal!
I started small. I found a great lined notebook with a purple cover to capture my day, a blank notebook from the Dollar Store to doodle in when I was stressed or anxious. I was lucky to find an app – on my first search – to track my symptoms and also another one to do my daily gratitude practice.
I was reluctant to start a journal when I experienced my anxiety and panic attacks. I wasn’t sure if I really wanted to explore the triggers or assess how I was feeling both emotionally and physically. The thought of reviewing those more difficult days wasn’t high up on my priority list. I focused on the positive side and tried different ways of capturing my thoughts, feelings, symptoms and accomplishments.
Here are my suggestions to start journaling on paper, electronically or even both!! There are a few things to consider in order to make the habit stick:
- Get a notebook that you will want to write in. It can be your favorite color, have an inspiring quote on the cover or is unlined so you have the option to add drawings instead of just words.
- When a quiet moment arises that you are alone, do a quick check in:
- How are you feeling? Happy? Sad? Anxious? Annoyed?
- What happened during the day that brought forward these feelings?
- Write down your thoughts on the cause and then take 3 deep breaths to let the feeling go.
- Close the Journal and continue on with your day, try to let go of those emotions. Consider the feelings you jotted down and you can reflect what you wrote down at the end of the day. Only do this if you feel the need because the feelings are lingering.
- Did you know that multiple journals can also be very helpful? Here are some addition journal types that could inspire you:
- The PMS Journal: Track how your cycle affects your physical, emotional or mental health.
- The Food Journal: Track you food choices, calories or even physical reactions to certain foods. I used this type of journal during an elimination diet so that I could follow if my symptoms improved as I made different food choices in relation to dairy, wheat and eggs. This was a tremendous help for both my family doctor and allergist.
- Gratitude Journal: This type of journal is fantastic for staying in a positive mindset and be thankful for the people that have an impact in your life. As I mentioned, I have been using the thankful app on my iPhone because it also allows me to include pictures in my entries. I am a visual person so the images trigger memories and evoke strong emotions.
- Dream Tracker: Do you thrive off of looking into the meaning of your dreams? Do you like interpreting the experiences and gain insight on your dream patterns. A dream diary can definitely help you reflect and learn more about your personality.
- Pregnancy Diary: As an adult, this was my first real attempt at journaling. Tracking my pregnancy experiences was rewarding and has enabled me to compare each experience (I’ve had 4 pregnancies!!) to see how unique they all have been. Another benefit is the ability to share this information with my children as they get older. In fact, my oldest daughter just had a baby and was so appreciative to be able to look at my pregnancy experience with her.
There are plenty of reasons to keep an online journal or diary. The most rewarding can be in regards to your emotional health.
Mental health benefits from journaling:
- Reduces overall stress
- Increases happiness
- Keeps you on track to achieve goals
- Increases your emotional intelligence
- Develops self-awareness
- Improves memory
- Allows you to emotionally heal from trauma
- Boosts problem-solving skills
- Gain clarity on confusing situations
I suggest that you have some kind of schedule in order to make journaling a habit and incorporate it into your lifestyle. Journaling throughout the day helps me capture all the various emotions and experiences I encounter. I aim for upon waking up, mid day, while cooking dinner and before bed. Just a few minutes per day has improve my mindset, gratitude and appreciation for all people and things that contribute to my journey through life.
Do you Journal? How has it benefited you? I’d love for you to share YOUR experience with the Violet Buddha Tribe and help others incorporate journaling into their daily To Do list.