The idea of journaling comes with some preconceptions on its use and effectiveness. For many, it triggers memories of teenage angst ‘Dear Diary’ entries or a space to wall in misery as you rant about your arch-nemesis.
Journaling has been embraced significantly more over the past decade and how it is now used has broadened to include art as well as focused writing through using prompts and themed journals.
Additionally, the boom in a productivity-based type of journaling, bullet journaling, has elevated the use of journaling to include mental health tracking along with daily planning. It’s safe to say that journaling has changed!
FREE FORM JOURNALING
There are many types of journaling that you can undertake. The most basic method of journaling is a free form style where you can write based on whatever comes to mind. This is also affectionately called a brain dump or word vomit journaling where you use the notebook to empty the contents of your mind in whatever random form that occurs.
This type of journaling is a good way to unburden yourself from the daily and trivial things in your life that can create clutter in your thoughts. A good brain dump can be some tension from everything you are carrying around in your mind. Once you’ve journaled about the things that are bothering you for that day, you might naturally forget those worries and move on with your day.
Another form of journaling involves a purposeful approach to self-improvement. This could involve setting goals in a journal to explore various aspects of your personality and approach to how you live your life. These types of journals include gratitude journaling where you purposefully seek to identify and acknowledge the positive aspects of your life that you feel grateful for.
This type of journaling is viewed as a preventative course of action where you are actively engaging in developing your mental wellbeing. Journaling in this manners us to reflect on our experiences and find meaning in how our experiences influence our identity.
Another common form of journaling is art journaling which is a blend of written journaling and creating art. It is not classified as art therapy in the context of therapy, however, art journaling does provide a space to explore internal thoughts and emotions. Art journaling also connects the creative process by releasing any held tension on the page.
A popular book that connects with the ethos of art journaling is The Artists Way by Julia Cameron, who explains that creativity is an authentic spiritual path. The book takes readers on a twelve-week journey to discover the link between their spiritual and creative selves.
HOW TO JOURNAL
The below suggestions are a basic guideline to start journaling. Your journal is personal, so the format should suit your interests and goals at the time.
- Journal daily – some suggest 10-20 mins per day.
- Make your journal accessible – have your journal easily available, whether it is a physical or digital journal.
- Be free – your journal is a private and safe space to explore the unsaid fears, thoughts, and emotions that you carry.
- Be purposeful – be mindful not to use your journal as a space to perpetuate negative views of the world on an ongoing basis. Keep a goal in mind to use your journal to improve your overall wellbeing.
WHERE TO JOURNAL
It’s common to use a paper journal for your writing. The physical act of pouring your thoughts and emotions into a physical representation of yourself can create a connection to the physical self.
From a practical perspective, you may wish to use an electronic journal if you want to type quicker than your handwriting can contain your thoughts.
Many websites offer online journaling services. Some suggestions include Penzu and Journey. Be sure to read the terms and conditions of each website to ensure you feel comfortable with the way your writing is managed by the company.
You can also use digital products such as Microsoft Word where you can create your digital journal. The software program Evernote is also another useful program for journaling as it can be accessed across a variety of devices so that you can access and write in your journal wherever from you are.