Many of you know that I’m an advocate for journalising. In fact, I was personally journalising as young as 15 years old, long before I knew the extraordinary benefits it affords the brain. With every new client, from day dot, I recommend that they keep a journal of their thoughts. So many say to me “But I don’t know what to write or where to start!” I say, “Don’t think about it, just put pen to paper and write the first thing that comes to your mind”. I know, I know, sometimes not as easy as it looks. Hence, I thought this article might help by giving you some tips.
First, let’s discuss the benefits. No good asking you to take time out of your busy day without reinforcing some good reasons for taking that time out. Plenty of studies have found that journaling our thoughts and feelings strengthen our immune cells, thereby improving both our physical and mental wellbeing. Writing activates the left side of the brain, allowing us to engage analytically and rationally, whilst the right side of the brain allows us to be creative, intuitive, and emotional as we write.
Therapeutically, journalising helps to bring the unconscious into consciousness so we can develop our awareness of who we are, what holds us back, and ultimately grow our potential. I usually explain to clients that journalising is the brain’s way of detoxing the pent up baggage. If we let negative thoughts and emotions fester over time, we can be left feeling septic. Releasing the strain and the stress can leave us feeling at ease with ourselves. And even if we already feel at ease, journalising can help reinforce what we are grateful for and what is good in our life.
So, time to begin that journal. Here are some questions to start you off. Remember, journalising is not about list making or dot points. No need to edit your thoughts or feelings or to correct your grammar. Write freely so that your stream of consciousness explores deeper thoughts and feelings. That way it will feel like a good ‘spring-clean’ or, as I said above, a detox.
- Start writing about where you are in your life. Describe your living situation, your work, and your relationships.
- Are you right where you want to be? How do you feel about this?
- If not, where do you want to be and how will this leave you feeling?
- What do you know about yourself? Your interests and your dislikes?
- What do you want to change about yourself and what would you not change?
- What gets you out of bed in the morning?
- What puts a smile on your face? What puts a frown on your face?
- What nurtures you and how do you nurture yourself?
- What needs of yours are unmet? What would leave you feeling more fulfilled?
- What are your strengths, your values, and desires? What would you like to improve and grow in yourself?
- What are some self-compassionate activities that you could engage in? Or want to engage in? How would this leave you feeling?