Journals are the containers for you to empty your mind. A place where you can both debrief your day and plant the seeds for your dreams. The when and what you write is entirely your preference because you determine what feels best for you.
Whether you write for stress reduction, to capture ideas and inspiration for your future, becoming more self aware or for personal reflection –there are countless wellness benefits for choosing to journal.
And, if you hand write rather than type there is yet another perk, but using a combination of both digital and manual journaling makes convenience and access to jotting something down easier. (I personally love this digital one from Etsy)
Journal writing is an individual experience as are the benefits that you receive.
Writing is simply good medicine for You + Your Life.
Writing for me has always been an passion, as both a creative outlet and for emotional processing. Considering I grew up in a time when letter writing and sending it in the mail, was the thing, writing was the communication tool for connection.
In my mid teens my goal was writing a book and going on Oprah, as one does. The day I published my first blog post on Blogger (December 29, 2007), it felt like I hit the jackpot. I had a forum in which I could share my thoughts with a broader reach, (beyond my dear friend Donna), and honestly likely thought Oprah may see it too.
Here is my first post — in its entirety. I’m sure you’ll agree that its weird Oprah didn’t call.
“Welcome to my Blog! I’ve been considering starting a blog for a while now and decided today was the day. Albeit the list of reasons of why not to far exceeded the why I should, I decided to let go of my limiting beliefs and go for it. I’ve had a life long desire to write, to share my thoughts and insights with those who would read them, however it has always been much safer not to put myself out there in that way. And so I weighed the risk of creating this blog, that potentially no one would read, and I also considered how rewarding it would be to create this blog share my thoughts and insights regardless of whether or not any one person would read! So There! My intention is to share my personal application and experiences with Feng Shui, the Law of Attraction, and life. This is my present to myself, my means of attracting what I want into my life, celebrating and being grateful for the things that no longer serve me, sharing inspirations, and motivating my spirit! Namaste!“
Is it me or reading something from my 2007 self is kinda like looking at old pictures and being aghast at the hair style and fashion. lol
Writing a blog then versus now is a different creature. In 2007, I was one of a lot – in 2022 a blog post can be likened to a grain of sand on a beach. Then a few years ago, in order for anyone outside your community, to see what you had written it had to be Search Engine Optimized or SEO. Learning how to write a post that Google liked first and foremost changed my voice.
It became harder to go with the writing flow because it had to meet the parameters set in SEO in order to be validated and included in depths of a Google search. Repeating keyword phrases, not writing lengthy sentences, not writing sentences to short, peppering your post with the perfect amount of links, bla bla bla.
So my inspiration and attraction to writing was stunted, since I needed my posts to be written ‘in such a way’, rather than listening to my inner voice. But there was something bigger that was clouding my ability and desire to string words together in a blog post in the last few years.Simply put –I had lost my voice, not because of laryngitis or SEO, but certain circumstances and life experiences had planted a deeply rooted belief that I had nothing of value to say. And yet, at the same time I knew that wasn’t true but I deferred to that belief.
That 2007 version of me was wise and has reminded 2022 version of me to realign with that carefree attitude of writing whether no one or someone (and I mean you, Donna) reads what I write.
I mentioned writing personally for processing emotions, and today it may be referred to as tool of emotional self-regulation.
Now if you haven’t heard that term before, think counting to ten or deep breathing before responding to a situation. Essentially tools that you can use to help you take your foot off your emotional gas pedal. And I 100% LOVE this post I wrote for when you are ‘thisclose’ to losing it.
You likely have a variety of things you do in order to manage strong emotions, and in my experience writing can and is a very powerful one. Here are some of my fave ways to use writing as a tool for emotional self-regulation.
Julia Cameron, artist and author of “The Artist’s Way”, invites everyone to do a three page brain dump each day called Morning Pages.
“Morning Pages are three pages of longhand, stream of consciousness writing, done first thing in the morning. *There is no wrong way to do Morning Pages*–they are not high art. They are not even “writing.” They are about anything and everything that crosses your mind– and they are for your eyes only. Morning Pages provoke, clarify, comfort, cajole, prioritize and synchronize the day at hand. Do not over-think Morning Pages: just put three pages of anything on the page…and then do three more pages tomorrow.”
This is not traditional journaling, as the structure is unstructured. Conscious thought is not required here, neither is punctuation or grammar. What comes out may answer the questions you posed when you journalled before bed and I have also experienced writing three pages of “I have nothing to write” over and over again.
For emotional self-regulation this technique of free-writing is highly effective if you have something in your day that has piqued your anxiety and your butterflies in your stomach are wreaking havoc. This writing session being first thing in the morning, can help you calm those feelings by being able to write about what has you feeling anxious without having to filter your thoughts.
This technique is not just for mornings and is highly beneficial at any time you need to vent.
This article suggests writing at the end of the work day and before going home. “The benefit of journaling at this time is that it could trigger a smoother transition from work life to home life.”
If it feels like too much work to write your thoughts before you leave and that you’ll capture it all at the end of the day, consider this.
The energy you bring from the office is likely different to what you want to feel at home, even if your commute is from your home office to your living room. Depending on the how smoothly your day unfolded, writing/journaling can go a long way to help you be present in your personal life.
If you are having one of those days where your inner voice has nothing good to say and has become an 80’s music ear worm and you CAN NOT EVEN anymore. Then its the perfect time to write for emotional self regulation.
Someone somewhere counted that we have approximately 60,000 thoughts per day, and not all of them are positive affirmations (not a shocker). If your inner voice is on a rant that you are not worthy, not good enough or not [fill in the blank] whatever, its not uncommon for those feelings to really ramp up. This is where you give the negative dialogue its moment. Not an entire Netflix special, but a moment.
I invite you to try these two writing prompts; ask the question or write it down, pause then answer with the first thing that comes to your mind.
Journaling includes writing intimately about how you are feeling, in the moment that you are distracted by the negative inner monologue asking yourself why and waiting for the answer can be quite illuminating. That pause to check in with yourself may be the tool to help you self regulate before your emotions have escalated to self-defeating and overwhelming.
“…if your journaling is focused purely on negative thoughts or events, you may become stuck in unproductive or destructive thought cycles that can worsen certain issues.” Rebecca Strong, Insider.com
It may seem counterintuitive to give that moment to the negative thoughts, for fear that you are empowering them. However, asking yourself those two questions is like asking your friend what’s bothering them and why. Emotional self-regulation is about experiencing your emotions and this technique is one way to do that and also learn where its coming from to expand your self-awareness. Maybe what comes up needs more attention, and if so take another pause by stepping back and reach out to your mental health provider for support.
Writing in the evening can be for reflection. It is potentially a time when others (and your phone) are not vying for your attention allowing you to clear your thoughts before going to bed.
This may be the best time you have to acknowledge the rainbow of emotions that you had during your day. Also an opportunity to acknowledge how you regulated them and navigated through and with them.
As a gratitude junkie, I would be remiss if I didn’t suggest to you to include gratitude to close out your journal entry or any writing you have done for your well being. When we consciously choose to find ways to be grateful, I believe it enhances your life in all ways.
So thank you, I’m grateful to you for reading this.