Do you journal? Today, I’m sharing how journaling impacts my life, why I started and why you need to pick up a journal, pen and start writing.
The Life Changing Art of Journaling and How to Get Started
My first memory of ever penning my thoughts on a sheet of paper was when I was 10 years old. My grandma had just passed away and I was having a tough time dealing with it. My mom got me a journal and told me to start writing my feelings to her, since I couldn’t seem to verbalize them. It worked quite well, actually. I think that journal might be laying around one of our houses, somewhere.
In college, I got into journaling much more. I found a notebook at Wal-mart, of all places, that I loved. I’d doodle on it and add fun stickers, you know, make a cool looking journal. I’d write my thoughts for my devotions and college life. I went on a few life changing trips (a Homeless Immersion Weekend, 4-Day Civil Rights Bus Tour, week long Mission Trip to the Dominican to work with at-risk women and Refugee Immersion Weekend) too. After college, I kept a journal, or two, filled the pages with life struggles and dreams for the future. Journaling had never been a huge part of my life, but it always seemed to show up at some point.
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A couple months ago, I listened to one of my favorite podcasts, The Model Health Show, and Shawn was talking to Katie Dalebout. She wrote this awesome book on journaling and I was quite intrigued. At the same time, my church was doing a 30 days of prayer challenge. I also had Kindle credit, so I thought to myself – Why not just buy this book, journal for 30 days along with the prayer challenge and see how things go.
So, I bought the book. And then I bought 3 journals, a morning, during work and evening journal. My plan was to utilize all of them, every day. I read through ‘Let It Out’ and made note of all the prompts I wanted to try out. This girl likes plans.
I remember one of the first prompts I did in my evening journal. It was called the Emo Tool. You picked a feeling you were feeling and answered a few different questions about said feeling. I wrote for PAGES. After writing, I had that calm, free feeling I get after doing yoga or alternate nostril breathing. I knew at that point, this journaling things was something I needed to stick with.
After a couple weeks of doing at least 1 different prompt a day, I got into my own rhythm. In the mornings, I’d write about how I was feeling that day or how I wanted to feel that day. I’d write about what I was looking forward to, things I was grateful for and sometimes, just brain dumps. My work journal because a spot for me to write about ideas for my business, dreams for the future and frustrations from the day. The evening journal was a recap of my day and action based ideas for the next day.
Journaling helped me connect my thoughts, feelings and actions. It helped me question bad moods and figure out areas where I wasn’t taking action or where I was afraid. It helped me change my perspective, be more mindful and just clear my head.
The past few weeks I haven’t been journaling as much and I can certainly tell a difference. And if more than a day or so has gone by without spending more than a few minutes in my journals, I know it’s time for a break to write.
3 Tips for Starting Your Journaling Practice
So, you wanna start journaling? Not sure where to begin? Have you started and stopped and need a way to stick with it, long term?
- Pick a journal that makes you want to write: The first thing I did was pick out new notebooks at Target. There are plenty of places out there that have amazing and beautiful journals. To be honest, I wasn’t sure I’d be able to stick with the practice or that I’d even enjoy it, so I didn’t spend a ton of money on my notebooks. I’m over half full in at least 1 of them, if not 2, so I’ll definitely invest a little more into future notebooks. Here are some favorites to consider: one / two / three / four
- Find prompts if you have trouble thinking of what to write: What I love about journaling is that there are no rules. You can literally pick up a notebook, a pen and start writing your thoughts. I do this often. But there is something about a writing prompt that gets you out of our comfort zone and opens your ideas to new things. Some of the prompts I did made me uncomfortable and were hard to write, but those prompts helped me learn the most about myself. And it helped me dig deeper when I did just grab a pen and start writing. I love Katie’s book, but I know there are others out there!
- Block off time each day to pen your thoughts: This goes with forming any new habit. Add 5 minutes of journaling to your morning routine and/or 5 minutes before you go to be at night. You don’t need 3 separate journals like me and you don’t have to spend a ton of time throughout the day. I started with journaling every morning, either before work or once I got to the office. Now, I usually do a little bit once I get to the office. My work day journal is usually always out and being filled with thoughts. My night journal has been sitting on my bed side desk for about a month. If you block off time each day when you start, you can get an idea of what works for you, then cut back or add, where needed.
Again, no rules to journaling. You gotta find what works for you. I definitely encourage the use of prompts every now and then, especially if you feel you keep writing the same thing or your struggling with something and need help pulling thoughts out.
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P.S. Happy December tomorrow. Keep and eye out on Friday for a sneak peek at a brand new workout series coming to the blog in December. Four weeks of TRAVEL FRIENDLY, minimal equipment/bodyweight workouts all under 20 mintues!
So, tell me:
Do you have a journaling practice?
Favorite journal? How many do you have?