The other day I was trying to figure out when I began journaling. I really cannot remember. I know my therapist and I discussed it about 15 years ago. She explained it as a great way to express what was weighing me down, so I gave it a try. It has really helped me over the years.
But I want to make something clear - I’m not the most consistent journaler, nor the most disciplined. I seem to gravitate toward my journal sporadically, and that works for me. It took me a while to give myself the permission and grace to journal when I feel like it, rather than on a rigid schedule. However, daily journaling may be right for you, so I would encourage you to explore the frequency with which you journal.
During therapy, I learned that journaling is not an English assignment. You shouldn’t worry about punctuation, grammar, spelling, etc. Just write. Nothing fancy, just write. The goal is to get the thoughts and worries out of your head and onto paper. I’ve found it helps release what I’m feeling. It does not need to make sense to anyone else. It’s like giving your worry to someone else when you put the words to paper. I try to keep my journaling to 5-10 minutes per day. It should be a cathartic experience, not a daunting task.
Just like how often you journal, the format of your journal is completely up to you. For instance, I have multiple journals that can be found in different spots around my house. I have one that sits on my nightstand and has been there since 2011. After learning about practicing gratitude in January of 2011, I remember making a special trip to the store to pick out a journal with the perfect cover. With its silver, metallic background and pink and blue paisley print, it’s just my style. At the time I was very excited about trying a new self-care practice, so I began filling up its lined pages with lists of things for which I was grateful.
I obviously haven’t written in it everyday or its spiral binding would be bursting. It now holds journal entries, gratitude lists, and other thoughts. It’s fun to go back and reread what my life was like throughout the years. Sometimes the things I wrote about seemed so worrisome at the time, but now I realize they weren’t that big of a deal. It’s also great to reflect on the ages and stages of my kids during that time. I especially like rereading my gratitude lists because they make me feel warm and even more grateful. Many of the things on my 10-year-old gratitude lists are the same things I’m grateful for now.
I also keep a journal on my office desk, which I use when I need to express myself or have thoughts I need to write down while I’m working. I have my copy of Kickstarting Wellness in my yoga room, which I use to record self-care practices and other related experiences. I especially love the guided prompts in this journal because they keep me focused on my physical and mental health, my weekly activity level, and my progress toward wellness goals.
Whether you’re a journaling veteran or a novice, you and your kiddos can get involved in this beneficial practice. I suggest teaching your kids how to journal by modeling this behavior. Take them to the store and let them pick out their own journal, or order a copy of Staying Well: A Self-Care Journal for Teens if your children are a bit older. Make sure to set aside consistent journaling time each day or week so they can learn the importance of emotional expression as a tool to promote mental wellness.
Here are a few journaling tips:
What I have learned: There are very few rules to journaling, so make it a practice that works for you.
Tania Farran is an educator, mom, business owner, and an author. Her blogs tell about balancing all of these things in life! Laugh or cry with her and maybe learn a thing or two.