When you think about journaling, what’s the first image that comes to mind? If you’re anything like me, you probably picture a teenage girl with a pink notebook, pouring all her thoughts onto a page following the words Dear Diary, but it’s time we put aside the beliefs we have that journaling is an activity for angsty teens and discuss the reasons it should become a regular habit in 2022.
Why You Need to Start Journaling:
There is something magical that happens when we let our thoughts spill onto paper. Picture your mind as if it were a muddy pond. The water is a bit murky, but you can still faintly see fish swimming around about 5 feet under the surface. Think of the fish as your thoughts. If you’re standing above the pond looking in, you can probably tell, despite the murky water, that there are different types of fish swimming around. Maybe you can even see the different colors and shapes, but unless you reach inside and pull the fish out of the pond you won’t be able to make any detailed observations about the fish.
Journaling is about reaching in and grabbing the fish.
When we write, we’re pulling the thoughts from our head where they are swimming around with a bunch of other thoughts and making them a reality. Why is this important?
When our thoughts and ideas become real and concrete, we can form a connection with them. On top of that, we’re creating a space where we can cultivate a relationship with our minds. All of a sudden, our thoughts have gone from an abstract idea in our heads to something we can analyze and start to understand.
Okay, but WHY IS THIS IMPORTANT?
Journaling has been shown to help treat depression, manage anxiety, improve productivity and elevate overall well-being because it allows you to do the following:
Recognize and address any limiting beliefs that may be holding you back;
Identify any negative thought patterns that are affecting our state of mind;
Develop a greater understanding of who we are as a person;
Create positive habits;
Keep track of progress;
Let go of things that are taking up mental space;
And explore your mind free of outside judgment.
When we allow ourselves to write about our day, our feelings, our beliefs, and our dreams; when we remove the opportunity for outside opinion and create a judgment-free zone for what’s inside of us to spill out, we create the perfect environment in which we can truly start to ‘find ourselves’.
Where to Start:
1. Create an environment where you feel calm, at peace, and free from distractions.
Get comfy, find your favorite notebook, and pen, and focus on being present with yourself.
2. Start with an affirmation.
Something like “I am making space right now for my thoughts, ideas, and feelings that is free from judgment. I am understanding myself more the more I write, and I am accepting of even the darkest pieces of me I may uncover”.
3. Write about your day.
If you aren’t sure where to start, start writing about your day. This is a great way to process the experiences you had. Write down anything you need to get done tomorrow so you can let yourself forget about it until tomorrow, write about the best parts and the worst parts, about the things you are grateful for, and the ways tomorrow could be better. Don’t put pressure on yourself to stay on topic, let your pen follow your thoughts.
4. Write about your problems.
A great way to become better at problem-solving, or to change the way your brain sees problems, is to write about them. As yourself questions like: what can I do about this problem right now? If there’s nothing you can do, make a plan for the next time you want to reevaluate and leave it at that. Sometimes problems can seem bigger in our head than they are, so writing about them can help us get a realistic view. Sometimes, it’s even helpful just to complain about them.
So, whether you’re trying to improve your mindset, embark on a journey of self-discovery, or if you’re setting goals and developing plans, make journaling a part of your routine in 2022.
If you’ve started journaling this year, what changes have you noticed in your mental health? Productivity? Have you been able to be present more often? Tell me more in the comments!