Writing in your diary as a kid may have been filled with silly worries and school yard crushes. But, as it turns out, using a grown-up version of this writing tool can help you overcome stress and anxiety. Journaling can allow you to discover new solutions to your issues just by helping you clear your mind and think easier. It is so easy to fixate on our problems and let them drive us crazy. This type of worry-cycle thinking can become habitual and hard to stop once it’s started. Thoughts just keep looping and looping around, never going anywhere. What’s worse is that they begin collecting other things to fixate on. When will it end?! Never. Unless you intentionally stop this cycle and start to look at your problems in a new light.
Journaling can be a great way to break this cycle. Problems won’t change unless we acknowledge them. Here are a few things that you can do to get the most out of your journaling experience.
1. No Censors.Which means no self-judgement. This is important. Whatever is on your mind or on your heart, let it out. Open. Honest. Unfiltered. Your journal is a safe place where you can do that, so don’t hold back. Grammar doesn’t matter, punctuation doesn’t matter. No one will be reading this after you.
2. Keep your journal safe.You will want to make sure to keep your journal in a safe place. You will have a better chance of being open and honest in your writing knowing that what you are writing isn’t going anywhere. If you don’t have a safe place to keep your writing, consider keeping your journal with you. Or, you can burn or shred your entry after writing. The important thing is to get your thoughts and feelings out in an open way.
3. Keep at it.Keep journaling every day, even when you don’t feel like it. Write for 5 minutes or ten minutes in the morning or at the end of your day. By being consistent with your writing, your journaling will evolve much faster. You will witness yourself growing and evolving into the person you hope to be.
Try different types of journaling. See which one resonates with you. Or, you can mix it up and use each different type as you go.
Free Writing: Gain clarity and let go of stress. Let your thoughts and feelings out, in no particular format. Just let that shit go, as they say. We’ve all vented to a close friend or family member before and it feels so good to just get it out and get things off our chest. And while this method can be helpful, there are shortcomings to this scenario. You might need to vent at a time or in a place where this person is not available. Or they may try to give you unwarranted advice. Keeping your problems private can help you find your own genuine solution.
Reflective Journaling:Gain self-esteem and confidence. Chances are, you are doing much better in life than you give yourself credit for. It’s easy to focus on what we don’t want or what has “happened’ to us. Instead of looking at challenges and stresses as punishment or life’s way of cursing you, try to see them as something that you can grow through and gain strength from. One way to do this is by reflecting on a hardship or lesson that you have gone through in your life. It could be a break-up, getting fired, failing at a passion project. Think back to what you gained from that experience. It could be that you learned the importance of trusting your gut instinct. Maybe you learned how to stand up for yourself. Whatever it was that you gained, take inventory and write it all down. Next time you are challenged by life, you can look at it as a situation to gain from, not lose from.
Gratitude Journaling:Gratitude journaling can boost your mood instantly. Make a list of what you are grateful for in your life. Friends, family, work, health, money. Hopefully this will be a long list. If you’re feeling depleted and don’t know what to be thankful for, start small. Be thankful for your pen and paper. Be thankful for your light in your room. More and more things to be grateful for will start to show up instantly!
Goal Journaling:Take your daydreams out of the fantasy world bring them into the physical world by writing them down. This will change thoughts from a dream to a plan. Write down your goals no matter how crazy, improbable, or unlikely they seem. Remember, if you can think, you can do it! Start by describing your goal in great detail as if it has already been accomplished. Write about what it will look like; the size and shape, color, design, and pattern. Go back and reread your journal entry. Feel what it will feel like to accomplish your goal.
Journaling is a great way to open up about your fears and desires. Once you are able to unclutter your mind, you can gain a clearer vision of where you are going. Your journaling will change and evolve as you grow. This is an opportunity to record what’s going on so you can look back and appreciate your journey and all you’ve been through.