Wellness Series: Self-Care, Journaling

Wellness Series: Self-Care, Journaling

Happy June. Summer is just around the corner. School is out, let the fun begin! Of course, things are still different and changing, but trying to regain some normalcy is important for the health and wellbeing of ourselves and our family. I am continuing my discussion about self-care and the many avenues of it. This week I am digging deeper into journaling. Journaling has a very positive effect on many individuals but again is not for everyone. I encourage you however before you doubt it to try it. Remember how our mothers always made us try different foods?  Well, trying journaling is much the same. We never know what will work until we try it!

What is journaling? It can be writing, doodling, drawing, typing, etc. It can be handwritten, typed, or recorded. It can be focused or unfocused. Handwritten journaling has been proven to have the most benefits in the world of journaling. However, if typing your journal works for you then do it!

Benefits of Journaling

  • Problem solving
  • Emotional healing
  • Anger management
  • Relaxation
  • Memory and retention
  • Processing traumatic events and learning to move through those experiences in a healthy way.
  • Medical related benefits including the lowering of blood pressure and cardiac stress.
  • Fighting depression & anxiety

These reasons apply for which ever method of journaling you chose. For me personally when I am in a meeting or class, I am a doodler. It helps me to learn better when my hands are busy.  Research shows many cases where writing and doodling have greatly increased mental stimulation along with increased learning. Journaling is creative and creativity is very helpful with mental focus. Journaling by hand has many added benefits with the big one being its similarity to meditation. So, think about what happens when we are writing, even if it’s just a note or a to do list. What happens? We slow down, we focus, our breathing slows, our mind slows and focuses. This all increases our ability to restore and rejuvenate for a moment.

What does journaling have to look like?

That is the special thing about journaling, it only has to look like what works for you. There is no right or wrong to what journaling must look like. You can journal on scrap paper, a notebook, or a special journal. You can just write words that come to mind, phrases, sentences, or draw pictures to identify with your thoughts and feelings. You can even cut pictures out of a magazine and glue them to pages if that is something that works for you. There is nothing that says what works for you is wrong in any way. It may take a few attempts to decide what works and what doesn’t. What’s the worst that can happen? Nothing but the ability to say that you tried!  

Types of Journals

There is no need to have a specific journal, but it can be helpful to you. Often having a specific type of journal can make it easier to get started and gives you the topic to write about so you do not have to contemplate about to write about. So, for example if you chose to do a nature journal and each evening you could set aside five minutes to write about what you noticed in nature today. Maybe it was on your drive to work while stuck in traffic that you noticed a bird flying freely through the air and you wondered what it would be like to be free like a bird. Here are a few types of journals that might help you in choosing what works for you.

  • A gratitude journal – this can help with staying in a positive frame of mind in a negative world!
  • A spiritual journal 
  • A gardening or nature journal
  • A feelings journal
  • An exercise journal
  • An art journal

There are many many more types of journals so find what speaks to you.  You might surprise yourself.

Starting to Journal

Just start! It does not have to be perfect and it can change to meet your needs. Here are a few steps that might help you in beginning your journey into journaling.

  • Chose a method (Writing, Typing, Doodling, or recording.  Maybe some of all).
  • Chose a book, paper, or computer.
  • Chose a time that works for you.  Maybe evening right before bed to help you process the day or early in the morning to help you start your day.
  • Start small – Maybe set a goal of journaling for five minutes per day.
  • Chose a comfortable spot.
  • Date your work for future reference.
  • Unsure what to write about? Ask yourself a question like “what is my favorite color” and then write about the color, why you like it, and what that color might remind you of.
  • Do not focus on the little things like form or handwriting. This is a guilt & judgement free zone. This is part of who you are  My handwriting changes with my moods when I am angry, frustrated, sad or happy. So, it always has differences.
  • Always end with a positive thought. This helps with your frame of mind as you begin to refocus on other things.

I have included a resource that I found, and it is full of in-depth and helpful information about journaling and the positive effects. My challenge to you all this week… Just TRY IT!  Journaling that is! Happy thoughts and happy journaling. I hope that you all have a positively blessed week!

Be GREAT this week!