”Write hard and clear about what hurts.”
– Ernest Hemingway
Journaling is something I’ve always taken to when I‘ve needed to calm my thoughts or let go of something that is making me feel anything but happy/ neutral.
Sometimes I’ll write to the point of mental exhaustion; where I’m literally incapable of thinking about what was upsetting me because I’ve either talked myself out of it, into it or through it while writing about it – AKA I’m done thinking about it for the rest of the night (mission accomplished).
Journaling will be different for everyone and there is certainly no ‘right’ way of going about it. Just write. Your entries can be a page(s), a paragraph or even just a few words about gratitude, day-to-day recaps or they can be like mine which are honestly all over the place 😅. Sometimes I’ll write pages of things I’m grateful for, other times there are even more pages of things that are weighing heavy on my heart: intimate relationships, life direction/ purpose, familial dynamics, etc…
When you slow down, you surrender and it allows you to tap into the actual source of what is bothering you. Writing your thoughts and feelings is one of the quickest ways to develop a deeper sense of self-awareness and intuition. There have been countless times where I have vented about something to my nonjudgemental pages and a solution or the answer to my question has suddenly dawned on me.
The beautiful thing about journaling is that it is entirely on your terms. You can write routinely or like me, whenever you need to vent. For me, it’s a release and a space where I can drop the vail and be vulnerable. Writing my thoughts and feelings out has time and time again walked me back to sanity when I’ve felt anxiety, sadness, guilt, anger, regret, confusion and any other feeling that I find unwelcoming.
Another really great thing about journaling is the ability to look back and see your own growth (mental, emotional and spiritual). I’ll look back on entries from years ago and laugh and sometimes cry (a weird nostalgic yet happy cry, lol). Either way, my words on these pages serve as a reminder that no matter what you’re going through, you’re going to be okay, you always have been and you always will be.
There are various questions within each prompt/theme. The way you decide to answer them is entirely up to you and how you are feeling each day or night. You don’t have to answer all the questions either. I wanted to give you lots of options so you have plenty to resonate with. You could literally fill a page with just ONE question within the prompts/themes, or have shorter responses for each question.
Think Less, Write More.
There is no structure to this unless you want there to be. If you don’t know what to write, start by writing, ‘I don’t know what to write’. Trust me, things will begin to flow when you think less and judge yourself less throughout this process.
Set a timer for 5 to 10 minutes
I recommend journaling for at least 5 minutes a day. A 2016 study published in the Journal of Happiness Studies found that people who kept a gratitude journal for just two weeks reported better moods and less anxiety than those who didn’t!
Realize there are no rules
My suggested prompts will be just that, suggested. You can edit them or create your own. Somedays you may fill pages with writing, other days you may only want to jot down a few sentences, and that is OKAY. It can be messy, organized, colorful, bullet-listed, misspelt, crossed out and just about anything else. This writing is for you, not an audience.
Ask the hard questions
Writing all sorts of questions allows you to clarify intentions and ask yourself what you really want. You’ll be surprised at what comes up if you keep digging (writing)!
If you have trouble sleeping, try journaling before bed
Writing is a mindfulness practice. It helps us stay focused and calm which in turn relieves stress, tension and anxiety. So if you have difficulty sleeping, try journaling before bed!
Find a really good pen
A pen that motivates you to write! A king-pen (pun intended). One of those retractable rollerball gel pens. If you don’t know what I’m talking about, check them out here. They’re my favorite!