How often do you take time to find a quiet space of stillness and reflect on Life that is happening at every moment? Journaling is a powerful way to reflect that can help you focus on the task at hand without allowing your mind to slip away to an upcoming task, a recent event or something else that is desiring your attention. When you fully allow yourself to become enveloped in reflecting and writing, you’ll be able to experience how beneficial this practice can be.
Journaling is scientifically proven to reduce stress, improve immune function, keep your memory sharp, boost your mood and strengthen emotional functions. In more simple terms, journaling is good for you inside and out and is a practice that is easy to begin. All you need is a piece of paper or a notebook and a pen or pencil or another writing utensil. You’re all set and now let’s begin!
While you really only need paper and a pen to embark on your journaling journey, there are a few things that can help make journaling feel more like a life-giving ritual than just sitting at a table with a piece of blank paper. Here are my top 5 tips (PLUS a bonus tip!) for journaling that are available for you to try out and perhaps add to your own time of putting pen to page.
Tip 1 – Tools You Love
Personally, I am drawn to things looking visually appealing. I want my notebook and my pen to be beautiful so that every time I look at them, I am being drawn into using them. I have a go-to journal that I have been using for the past two years. I buy a few at a time and use them for everything– from journaling to planning workshops, from sequencing for yoga classes to when ideas strike in the middle of the night. Find tools you love to inspire you with every session.
Tip 2 – Set A Timer
Some days I journal for an hour, other days I journal for 5 minutes following a few short and sweet daily prompts. I usually journal in the morning while still in bed (more on that later) and have a time I need to be out of bed to get the rest of my day going. This works for me and it may not work for you which is totally okay! However, with this setup, I know I have until usually around 7am to journal. Each morning I look at the time and see what time I have and that’s when I journal until. Setting a little timer or ‘stop time’ for each session can help keep you on track.
Tip 3 – Stream of Consciousness
Stream of consciousness journaling is one beautiful method of journaling that is simply beautiful for letting out what is on the inside. With stream of consciousness journaling, when you read a prompt, you simply start to write anything and everything that comes up. Your pen immediately hits the page and you start to write. You aren’t looking to form proper sentences or pen the next great Instagram caption, it’s all about letting out what’s inside as freely as possible. Try this out when you journal. It helps release perfection and embraces who you are.
Tip 4 – Make it a Ritual
Let’s be honest… ritual sounds more lovely than the word routine. A ritual is a set of fixed actions and sometimes words performed regularly. Turning journaling into a daily ritual will help you become more consistent in your practice and will turn this task into a beautiful unfolding of what’s inside of you to come out in a way that nourishes you. Set a specific place in the day to journal. For myself, I love journaling when I first wake up in the morning. For you, perhaps evening is best to let go of all your stressors so you can sleep better. Notice, I didn’t say pick a TIME every day. Let’s not get ourselves into a situation where we get hard on ourselves when we don’t journal at exactly 7:15am each day. Let’s stick with attainable. A time like ‘in the morning during coffee before getting ready for the day’ or ‘while in bed after brushing my teeth and before turning off the lights’. Add in journaling to things you already do to make it attainable in your schedule.
Tip 5 – Enjoy the Process
Instagram journaling can make it seem daunting to begin this beautiful work. You see perfect spaces and pretty journals and filters and plants and everything else that makes you feel like your practice won’t be enough. As I’ve mentioned before, a page and a pen is all you need. Make this enjoyable. You officially have permission to release perfection and the need to make it photo-worthy and just enjoy the process.
BONUS! Tip 6 – Start Simply
I like to start all of my journal entries with the simple words, ‘Dear God…’. It frames my time as a spiritual practice of writing out the very words I would speak to God. When I write this way, I find it’s easier to be honest, to express gratitude, and to share what’s really going on while acknowledging that God cares and knows. It makes the time feel more valuable to me than just writing out what’s on my mind. It becomes intentional and purposeful.