Journaling your Way to Wellness
Journaling. A few years ago, that word might’ve conjured up mental images of an early 2000s teen girl, lying on her bed, talking to her BFF on her lips phone and writing about her crush in her journal. Just me? Nowadays, journaling is being used to aid in people’s journey to wellness and mindfulness by assisting personal development and managing stress, anxiety and depression.
In a time where mental health issues are widespread, the power of journaling shouldn’t be overlooked. There’s a multitude of research out there outlining the benefits of journaling, these are only a simplified overview.
Allows you to self-reflect
Clarifies thoughts and emotions
Helps with organisation
More likely to achieve your goals if you write them down
Improves your memory
Helps you problem solve more effectively
Once you start getting things on paper, some fascinating things start happening to your brain. But where do you start? That overwhelming feeling can keep us from starting, but these approaches can be a good place to begin and keep you on track. Experimentation to find what works for you is key.
It’s widely known that increasing your gratefulness leads to increased happiness. But it can be SO hard sometimes. This approach is a quick and simple one that only involves writing down a few things you’re grateful for. This one is perfect for people who consistently find themselves wallowing too long in a negative mind frame as it forces you to take an optimistic outlook.
The key to this being effective is focusing deeper into fewer things, focusing on people more than things and surprisingly – not doing it daily. This contradicts the common advice but apparently doing it daily wears off the positive benefits and once a week is the optimal amount.
BULLET JOURNAL (BUJO)
This approach is one for the people who need help with productivity and organisation. Once you get that down, that should in turn reduce your stress levels. Stress management = better mental and physical health.
It involves using custom layouts and symbols, traditionally in a dot grid notebook, to track appointments, to dos etc. It offers complete flexibility for your specific needs, unlike the rigid layouts in store-bought planners, with monthly and weekly spreads, habit trackers, mood trackers, fitness pages, list pages, meal planning … the list goes on.
Online you’ll see beautifully hand drawn artistic pages and if you’re no artist, like myself, it can be incredibly intimidating. But please note that it’s NOT all about the beautiful hand lettering– it’s about the system. A plain black and white list might not be as Instagram worthy but its going to get the same job done.
This approach was created by Julia Cameron, the author of The Artist’s Way. It involves continuously writing three pages of anything that crosses your mind every morning. Yep, you heard correctly. Anything. No direction or rules. Apart from the fact that it MUST be three pages.
This is a great one if you find yourself with an overwhelmed brain filled with too many thoughts. By getting them all out of your head first thing in the morning, it leaves your head clear and a clean slate for your day ahead. It can also be great for creativity, getting those ideas down if your someone who wakes up filled with inspiration.
It’s your journal, your rules. You have the freedom to write however much you want and about whatever you want. Your ideas and needs may change daily, and your journal should reflect this. Some days you may want to use it productively, some days you may need to write out complex emotions you’re feeling to try and gain some understanding. Add drawings, diagrams, paintings, writing, poems.
Beginners may find it easier to use a more structured form of journaling, but as your confidence in it grows, it’ll be easier to let go and just write.
If you’re struggling with mental health, pick up a pen and paper (the best way to do it) and write. Keep it up daily and see for yourself what a difference it can make.