What do you think of when you hear the word JOURNAL?
Is it a sticker-covered notebook filled with your childhood scribbles? Flowers, hearts, rainbows, and peace signs? Or is it a lock-and-key diary where your wrote your deepest feelings about your first boyfriend? And hid it under your mattress, of course.
(Mine was orange with a little gold key. 🔑 And his name was Paul Tewes. ❤️)
While it might seem a bit old-fashioned, journaling is more than hearts and flowers. Journaling does much more than help you record memories and express your feelings.
Studies show journaling can even be good for your health—physically and emotionally. By putting a pen to paper, you may reduce stress, boost your mood, strengthen emotional regulation, and even improve immune function. Who knew! Journaling can also keep your memory sharp as you age. Research shows that expressive writing can help people with perspective, providing a greater sense of confidence, and self-identity. Those are some pretty spectacular reasons to grab a pen and get started.
Do you want to relieve stress and anxiety?
Do you want to cultivate an attitude of gratitude?
Are you working through some personal trauma?
Are you yearning to be wiser, kinder and more thoughtful?
Are you seeking perspective on a particular subject?
Make 2020 your year to journal!
So how does a person begin journaling? Is there a right (or wrong) way to do it?
The best advice: don’t overthink it. Just start where you are.
Simply jot down a thought you have or something you are grateful for. Perhaps you could write out a favorite quote or song lyrics that move you. Write about your dream vacation spot or a person who influenced you. Maybe you’d like to start by doodling or drawing a picture. Or your thoughts about a movie, relationship or situation at work. Nothing is off limits.
Here are a few tips to get you started:
- Don’t preoccupy yourself with punctuation, grammar, or spelling. Just write. This is for you. Only for you.
- Skip the screens when journaling — writing by hand stimulates and the brain in a way digital communication doesn’t. This is especially beneficial if your work requires you to use a computer all day.
- Write often—every day if possible—but don’t worry if you only have a few minutes. 5-10 minutes of quiet time is sufficient.
- Remember this is a non-judgmental flow of your thoughts. A time for you to reflect and ponder. No need to filter or sensor.
If you’re still unsure how to get started, you can always use journaling prompts—questions or topics that get your mind flowing. Since journaling from scratch is difficult for some people, prompts can give a starting point. You can find hundreds of them with a simple Google search. Just reflect and answer the prompt as honestly as possible. Use them to help you reflect, shed stress, cultivate gratitude, and to get yourself thinking about topics in a new way.
Here are a few of prompts to get you started:
- What is the best thing that happened to you in 2019?
- If the new year is a successful year, how will you describe it when it’s over?
- Is there a word, theme or verse you’d like to focus on in 2020?