Journaling is probably not the first thing that comes to mind when you think of healing, but rest assured, it can play a huge part in fostering our well-being. Journaling is one element that can contribute to a holistic approach to healing, and it has proven to be an effective agent in promoting optimal mental health. It allows for emotions to be processed, and thus lowering stress. Journaling also helps us to gain clarity, and it brings more awareness and accountability to what we put out into the world. If you’re in for some self-directed change and want to embark on a journaling adventure, The Centre for Journal therapy recommends you do the following:
Keep it private.
Meditate before you write.
Date each entry.
Keep and re-read what you write.
Write without censoring or editing yourself.
Give yourself permission to tell yourself the truth.
Write naturally in a way that works best for you.
I’ve implemented journaling into my life for a few years now, and like yoga, it really has helped to keep me grounded. This was extremely beneficial during my postpartum period. As anxious feelings were heightened, I really needed to refocus my energy to bring about more clarity and awareness. Committing to journaling on a daily basis during this time was not only healing, but it was also something I was excited about and looked forward to.
Some people prefer to have different journals for each category of entry type, but I find it a lot simpler to keep one journal in which I differentiate each different category of entry by title. For instance, the three categories of entries that I incorporate are as follows:
Are you most likely to remember the guy who complimented you on your new hair cut, or remember the girl who dissed your outfit? Have you ever found yourself dwelling on a rude encounter or fixating on a mistake you made? That’s right, we’ve all been there! We tend to let criticism impact us more than compliments, and we are better at recalling insults than praises. We also think about negative experiences more frequently than positive ones. Our human brains are just wired to dwell on the negative (ever wonder why bad news draws more attention than good?).
Gratitude journal entries are the best way to help us refocus our energy on the good stuff (because believe it or not, that takes a little bit more effort). It forces us to look through the lens of appreciation and gives us a new perspective on our everyday world. Writing gratitude journal entries, or, maintaining a gratitude journal, encourages us to constantly be more aware of the good (big or small), which leads to accumulating happier days!
When you desire to keep evolving into the best version of yourself, you need an action plan. That’s why setting intentions in our journals act as a road map keeping us focused on our growth into better versions of ourselves. Writing intentions down help us to delve deeper into ourselves, and it helps us to connect to what really matters to us (our core values).
Intention setting also increases our accountability, ensuring we stay on track to becoming better versions of ourselves. Setting intentions helps to keep me mindful of whether or not my actions and thought processes are aligned with my core values. I personally like to set my intentions at the beginning of each month (and sometimes more frequently than that), and this allows me to focus on short term goals for my growth as a person.
Positive statements are key when you are setting intentions. For example, instead of saying “I will avoid the wrong people for me,” try saying: “I attract partners who treat me well.” Note the difference? The intention statements that you jot down should encourage living purposefully with aspirations, rather than avoidance and neglect. Here are a few examples of intention statements you can try exploring:
I see the goodness around me.
I love unconditionally.
I am kind even under pressure.
It’s impossible to grow into the best versions of ourselves without doing any self-reflection, so that’s where writing reflective journal entries can be useful. Reflective journaling is a way to get to know ourselves better and help us become more mindful of how we interact with the world. In addition, it helps us gain perspective. Writing about and analyzing experiences (big or small), and the emotions elicited from those experiences, helps to guide us to make better decisions and live a more fulfilling life.
Tips on how to get started on your reflective journal entry:
Journal the experience (what happened?)
How did this event make you feel? Why did you make that particular decision? (Interpret)
What is the lesson learned? What will you do next time?
These 3 types of journal entries have helped to keep me focused on my personal growth and hold me accountable. So, whether you’ve never journaled, or have been dabbling with the idea, I hope this post gives you the encouragement to give it a go! It’s definitely a useful tool in fostering a happier and a more goal-oriented life.
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