Do you keep a journal or did you used to journal long ago and want to try and get back to it? Have you seen the personal benefits of keeping a journal? I personally see the benefits of my own journal writing in allowing me a place to find some calm and moments to reflect, and I find it a great outlet to turn to throughout the month.
The clinical term for mindful journaling is “expressive writing.” There are numerous studies and experts in the fields of psychology, mindfulness, stress reduction and more, that attest to the power of journal writing on one’s health and wellbeing. Dr. James Pennebaker, a preeminent social psychologist and expert on writing therapy at UT Austin, is known for his work in quantifying how when we write our feelings or what may be bothering us, it has been shown to help offload the levels of stress and other tension that is “loading on our bodies.”
Our bodies have a loading capacity. In the same way that floors can only take so much weight and tonnage of books and heavy materials before they need reinforcing, stress and overwhelm, big changes in one’s life, pain, tension, body or mind tiredness, or constant distractions are extra “weight” on the floor of the house of our selves. Journaling can be a modality we turn to when we need to “figure out more of what’s going on in our minds,” or even a place to turn to when we just do a “brain dump,” of putting what’s on our minds onto the paper!
Expressive writing/journal writing helps you to write for your health and wellbeing and offload some of this extra weight, especially in trying times. This can help with a general sense of calm, quality of life, overall happiness and general sense of equanimity. Mindful journal writing can be done in whatever way you want to express yourself. It can take the form of an art journal, a a paper and pen journal, an online journal, a gratitude journal, a bullet journal, or however you decide you want to keep a journal for yourself. You can use your journal to help you identify things you like about yourself or things you want to change, to try to capture the good or favorite memories or to think about goals. A journal writing practice can be a way to find a good, healthy outlet and a creative way to cope with challenges and it can help you stay mindful in the moment.
If you haven’t journaled before, or if you had less than stellar writing or journaling experiences previously, sometimes it’s helpful to take time now to pause, reflect and write from this new space and time. There are many reasons we can get stuck with our journaling. We can get in a rut or just not know what to start writing about. Another issue that comes up for many individuals I work with is their thinking that if they haven’t journaled in a long time, they may have missed the boat on journaling and “can’t get back on,” so to speak. This is not true! You can start mindfully journaling wherever you are at and it needn’t be a long entry nor does it have to happen every day. Just sit and be with your thoughts and write.
The three most common questions/writing prompts I often suggest people journal through when they’re not sure what to think about something going on in their lives, or they just need to start journaling somewhere, “wherever they’re at” right then and there are as follows.: ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀
1) What feels most important to you right now? ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀
2) What are the strengths you already “bring to the table?” ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀
3) What are you already good at and/or what do you most enjoy doing?⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀
Often when we take a few moments to journal through one or all of these, we can see what else comes up. Try it today to see what comes up for you. ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀
We’d love to hear from you which of the journal prompts above you’re going to use to start writing today! Check out more ideas on Mindful Journaling for Wellness on our social @joyfestivalindustries or join us for a writing workshop. Email [email protected] for more information and mindfully write your way towards greater wellbeing!