Journaling – What’s the hype all about? A how to guide to journal.
As a simple yet powerful form of self-care, journaling is possibly one of the most profound tools out there for enhancing your well-being on every level (mental, emotional, physical, and spiritual). Yet many people wonder how to journal and what are the best ways to get started. Read along to find our tips and tricks.
When it comes to self-growth, journaling is probably one of the top five practices I recommend to everyone.
Journaling is about exploration: exploring who you are, what you think, how you feel, and the way in which you process life’s daily events. More clarity and insight is gained about your mind and emotions, leading to heightened self-awareness.
The more self-aware a person is, the more well-adjusted, grounded, and balanced they will feel, despite what is going on around them. Therefore, journaling helps us to find inner stability and gives us the ability to untangle ourselves from self-destructive forms of behavior and negative thought patterns.
Thankfully, you don’t have to be particularly good at writing to benefit from journaling. In fact, you can be flat-out terrible like me! There is no judgment in the sacred space of journaling. You don’t have to worry about things like grammar or spelling.
What really matters is your intention and the attitude you bring to journaling.
What is journaling?
Journaling is the practice of writing down your thoughts and feelings for the purposes of self-analysis, self-discovery, and self-reflection.
As one of the oldest forms of self-help in the world, journaling is about exploring one’s own thoughts, feelings, impulses, memories, goals, and hidden desires.
Journaling is often prescribed by therapists, counselors, and spiritual mentors as a powerful way of developing more self-understanding and compassion.
Journaling provides a gateway to our True Self (also known as Higher Self) or Soul. By helping us to explore, process, and work through our thoughts, emotions, dreams, and desires, journaling nourishes our self-awareness.
We start to develop a deeper relationship with our inner self. The more inwards we go, the greater capacity we have to distinguish between our thoughts and feelings, and the guidance of our Soul.
Benefits of journaling
- Increased self-awareness, self-understanding, and self-compassion
- Strengthens your immune system and leads to better physical health
- Helps decrease stress, depression and anxiety
- Enhances mental health and mental clarity
- Encourages spiritual and emotional growth and integration
- Improves your ability to communicate with others
- Increases creativity and helps you achieve your goals
- Promotes emotional, mental, physical, and spiritual healing
How to start jounaling for yourself
If you want to start journaling – or have tried in the past but never made a habit out of it – here are a few tips that might help:
First – Keep your journal private
Your journal should be for your eyes only – it isn’t to be shared on your Facebook page, Instagram account, YouTube channel, or even this platform.
It shouldn’t even be shared with your friends, partner or family members. Why? The answer is that when we share thoughts and feelings with others, we tend to screen them for acceptability. Your journal should be a place where you can write freely without the fear of judgment – this is why it’s better to keep it private.
No one is saying that you can’t share some of your private reflections with others, and we encourage you to be vulnerable here in this space. But just try to keep what you have written to yourself. It is somewhat of a balance of honoring your own privacy while being open to sharing.
The more confident you are that your thoughts will stay private, the easier it will be for you to write openly.
This was a big one for me. Editing your journal entries actually stops the flow of thoughts and feelings because you are busy trying to “play by the rules.”
Just let it all out – it feels so much better!
I don’t even capitalize or use any sentence structure rules when it comes to writing in my journal. And sometimes when I go back and read my entries I still cringe a little but I honor what I was feeling when my words filled the page. That is where the magic is not in the grammar or spelling.
The purpose of journaling isn’t to write a masterpiece, it is to self-reflect and record the thoughts and feelings you’ve been having for self-growth and self-discovery.
Simply write whatever comes to mind and don’t worry about how it sounds.
Third – Write your deepest thoughts and feelings
Journaling is an intuitive activity because it requires you to tune into your feelings and blurt all of that out on paper. Journaling is the most effective when it is a space where our deepest thoughts and feelings can be shared and mulled over.
I love exploring my latest emotional insights, problems, and aha moments in my journal. Sometimes I will write for a minute, and at other times I will write for up to an hour: it all depends on how I am feeling. There’s no need for time restrictions. Try to avoid setting time limits just to allow your writing to flow.
Don’t be afraid to dive deeply into your mind and heart.
Fourth – If you’re struggling, ask these questions:
Sometimes we just don’t feel “in the flow” of writing, and sharing our thoughts doesn’t come naturally. If you ever feel this way, here are some useful question you can ask yourself which will stimulate thought:
- How am I feeling today?
- What is an issue I’m facing?
- What can I do about my most recent problem?
- What spiritual lesson is hidden in a difficult situation I’m facing?
- What thoughts are triggering my current feelings?
- Why do I keep having these thoughts?
- What was the message hidden in last night’s dream?
- What do I feel the need to change or improve about myself? (And why?)
- Am I being self-compassionate?
- Am I seeing the entire picture?
- How am I being dishonest with myself or others?
- In what ways can I be more mindful?
- What mistaken beliefs am I buying into?
- What is my plan of action to achieve my goals?
- What setbacks and obstacles am I facing?
Fifth – Reflect on what you’ve written
After you’ve finished your journal entry, you might like to read over what you’ve written with the intention of gaining clarity. If any thoughts, feelings or realizations stand out to you, try highlighting them.
Personally, reflection on what I wrote was one of the best ways to emotionally and mentally metabolize some of the most difficult experiences in my life.
Reflection is what allows you to integrate your thoughts into knowledge, understanding, and inner transformation.
Give yourself grace
As you begin to create a writing habit, give yourself grace and kindness as you develop a system that works for you. Even just spending a few minutes a day recording how you feel is hugely beneficial, this is because journaling helps you to read your own mind and make sense of all the mental clutter and emotional turbulence you feel inside.
When we explore our thoughts, we’re not living second-hand knowledge or seeing ourselves through the eyes of some “professional” – instead, we are actively seeking to understand, through direct experience, who we are and what we value the most at a core level.