How to start your journaling journey

Traveler's Notebook Hasami Mug Journaling time

If you're like many of us, you're constantly on the go and don't always have time to think about your own needs. But by taking just a few minutes out of your day to journal you could improve your mental and emotional health.

Writing in our journals helps us to be more aware of ourselves and those around us because we are taking note of things that happen or words spoken by ourselves and others. Being mindful has been shown to reduce stress levels so it’s important we start taking note of our thoughts and feelings so we can create positive change.

If you're still unsure whether to start or how, we'll help by taking a closer look at the benefits of daily journaling, how to incorporate journaling into your daily routine and a tips to get you started.

Benefits of Journaling

When we write down our feelings they become real and we start processing them in a different way which helps us deal with stress rather than holding onto these emotions and allowing them to overwhelm us. It works because we are taking time out for ourselves to focus on our thoughts and feelings.

So if you need a little nudge to start recording your thoughts, below are five benefits of journaling.

  1. You'll be more organised and productive.
  2. You'll become better at expressing yourself verbally and in writing. 
  3. You'll have a greater understanding of yourself and your thoughts and feelings.
  4. Your memory will improve. 
  5. You'll be less stressed and happier overall!

5 Tips for Daily journaling

  1. Make it a positive experience by creating a ritual. For me, that involves writing in my journal each morning with a cup of coffee. A space where I can spend some quiet time reflecting on the day before and preparing myself for the day ahead.
  2. Find a quiet place that is comfortable and free from distractions. De-clutter your desk before writing, this will help when focusing on the entry itself because it means there won’t be any distractions from other items such as mail or bills, etc. The atmosphere needs to be conducive to writing because if there are lots of things going on around you then it will take your focus away from the task at hand.
  3. Write the first thing that comes into your head with no judgement or overthinking. You’ll have time to look back later.
  4. Give yourself time - generally from 10 - 15 minutes gives you the time to reflect and write down your thoughts.
  5. Be consistent. Aim to journal at the same time each day so it becomes an automatic part of your day. Whether you prefer beginning, end or both. The consistency is what helps.

There is no perfect way and by starting you have already taken that first step on your journaling journey.

Tidy desk with Midori Notebooks

How to set up your journal

My go-to notebook is the Dot Grid Journal by Midori and my Delfonics pen.

I like to leave the first-page blank - It’s my way of opening and realising there are many possibilities beyond - may also be just a nice way of keeping it private…

Open with a quote page - keep this for quotes that you may come across that you want to remember or something to inspire you. My quote of the moment is “Be happy with what you have while working for what you want.” It is a nice reminder to be thankful for today and to make the most of the present.

Moments to remember - Nice way to highlight those key moments in my journal so I can reference them later or just be reminded of them. Kind of like an Index page but way cooler.

My year at a glance - I like to separate the next 2 double pages (4 pages in total) with the year broken down by month. I like to grid it by month with Birthdays or key dates on the left and new events on the right.

Goals for the year - I like to separate this into goals around each aspect of my life - Personal, Family, Financial, Home and Work goals. Just 1 - 2 items to reflect on and keep my life in harmony. This can be a commitment to go for a 30-minute walk 4 times a week and meditating 15 minutes twice per week to paint a room in the house or just being more attentive and listening to my family. I can reflect on these and add or adjust as the year progresses.

Favourites page: This is a great way to jot down my favourite reads, music, talks, meals and activities from the year.

My Journal: Some days can be a couple of lines on my activities, other days a deeper reflection on how I am feeling or just some bullet points of things to do.

What do I write about?

You can write about anything, but personal thoughts and feelings really help us to process what has happened during the day or what we may have been feeling going into a situation. If you find yourself constantly complaining about a certain topic, for example, try looking deeper as to why you feel this way and how you could change your perspective so that this doesn’t have such an impact on your wellbeing moving forward.

  • What does my future self need from me now?

This is a great question to ask yourself if you’re feeling out of control and just want things to go your way. Think about what is needed for the day ahead and how you can prepare in advance so that you don’t panic or ruminate on negative thoughts throughout the day.

  • Are there any patterns in my life that make me feel stressed?
  • What am I grateful for today?
  • What do I need from myself now?

You’ll be surprised by what comes out of your journal when you ask yourself simple questions such as these. It may take some digging but remember – you can be honest with yourself. Write what you feel and know that no matter how difficult things get, it’s important to keep going.

Finally, knowing where your thoughts have gone will become a positive aspect of your life so if nothing else, journaling is a great way to get a grip on your thoughts ..

Take care everyone!

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