You might think that you’re already doing morning pages, why should you journal. But the two are completely different. Morning pages are used to write the crap out. You’re usually writing a jumble of words that may or may not make sense but they’re helping to shake the cobwebs out of your brain. Journaling, on the other hand, can guide you down a path, whichever path you want to take. Here’s how to use journaling to help with your self-care.
Journaling is even different from keeping a diary although you can combine the two into one. A diary is a record of your day. An accounting of what happened on a particular day so you can look back on it in the future. A Journal, on the other hand, is usually created with a specific goal in mind.
A journal usually starts off as a blank notebook allowing you to follow whatever path you wish to pursue. There are also guided journals that take you down a specific path. Some might be used to set your goals or track your moods, or as a place for creative play.
How Journaling Helps
There’s a lot of scientific evidence that shows that journaling can help you emotionally. Writing about something traumatic can help you process it and helps improve both your physiological and your physical wellbeing. One study, published through Cambridge, shows that writing about a traumatic situation might increase the stress of a person in the short term, but in the long run, there are reduced symptoms, including reduced visits to a doctor, lowered blood pressure, and more.
Reduce Stress. By writing out those things that bother you, whether big or small, you are reducing the stress that causes your flight or fight response. A necessary response if you’re in a dangerous situation, but in our fast-paced stressful world flight or fight can be triggered by any number of things. Your teenager talking back, the driver who cut you off, your boss yelling at you.
All of those little triggers add up to huge stress that’s taking a toll on your physical and mental health. Writing about what’s going on gives you objectivity and even a new perspective all while reducing the stress.
Improved Creativity. Yes, I harp on creativity all of the time. I know it. But it’s important. Whether you’re an artist or just a person trying to figure out what to do when you don’t have the tools you need to complete a project. Journaling doesn’t mean the only thing you can do is write. You can draw in your journal or collage or paint in it.
Increase Happiness. Yes, journaling can increase your happiness. Focus on writing down things that brought you joy. Some people track 3-5 things they are grateful for each day. Studies have shown that by focusing on the positive things in life you create a more positive outlook, which leads to happiness. Happiness is not dependent on others but is grounded in how you look at life through your journal.
Different Types of Journals
I’ve had a lot of journals through the years. I even had a period journal. Yep. I tracked my periods. Day one would be the first day of my period and then I continued tracking/counting days until I got my next period. With each day, I’d track my mood and energy level. Since I was also on the pill at the time, my start and end dates were consistent.
I was trying to get a handle on the patterns. I wanted to make sure that on days when I was moody or my energy levels were low, I wasn’t planning a big project. I found that period journal very helpful and kept it going for years. I only used 1 line per day, so the journals lasted a long time.
Another journal I kept was to track my meditations. I struggle with meditating and it was a huge part of yoga teacher training. Each day, I meditated, struggled, and wrote it down. I wrote down whether it went well or not, and what the things were that distracted me. The journal I used for meditation practice was special. It was made from recycled fibers and the paper was thick and soft. This Nepali Eco Journal reminds me of that special book.
I’ve even used guided journals. A guided journal is one that is filled with prompts that lead you down a specific path. For instance, I created Ease into Your Goals a guided journal to help people plan out their goals for 2022. There are a lot of different guided journals, some for managing finances, tracking your dreams, managing anxiety, etc.
As a reminder for everyone of how important self-care is, I created this free guided Self-Care Journal. I hope you use it and would love your feedback on it.