It can be overwhelming to stare at a blank piece of paper with the expectation to write something down. What should you write about? What should you say? How should you start?
When it comes to journaling, it’s easy to overthink, believing you have to write down the perfect thing, journal the ideal prompt or make your writing productive in some way. The truth, however, is that writing should be a relaxing, freeing experience that promotes self-awareness, increases self-esteem and simply benefits you in the way you need it to the most.
The benefits of journaling are numerous, including the benefit of being able to pick the type of journaling prompt that enhances your life the most.
Use your journal as a mood tracker
Using your journal as a mood tracker can increase self-awareness and promote a healthy focus on beneficial habits in your life. Many find it helpful to jot down what they’re feeling, and what’s on their mind on a daily basis, and consider the impact of things like sleep, exercise and relationships on their mood.
Starting a mood-tracking journal can increase awareness of the connection between external events, thoughts and emotions and allow for more peaceful, intentional control over your emotions.
Delve deeper into self-awareness
A journal can be a great outlet for exploring your self-image and perception. You might consider journal entry prompts such as:
- What makes me happy?
- What are my greatest strengths?
- What do I struggle with?
- What are my biggest hopes for the future? My biggest fears?
You can also use your journal to explore experiences from your past that have shaped who you are today. You may consider diving into painful experiences for the sake of discovering the growth and goodness that came from it, or you might focus on the gratitude you felt during particularly joyful times. How did they affect you and how can they shape your life for the better?
Cultivate gratitude through journaling
You may have heard that practicing gratitude is beneficial to your mental health. Research has shown that people who regularly take time to live gratefully experience less burnout, increased humility and patience and greater satisfaction in life overall.
Gratitude journaling can be as simple or involved as you’d like. You might purchase a planner and write down three to five things you’re grateful for each day; or you might take time to journal more in-depth about the moments, conversations or situations for which you felt particular gratitude. The more you make this a habit, the more you will experience the concrete benefits of thankfulness and graciousness.
Reflect on your day
Some days are inconsequential and feel routine and relaxed; other days feel more overwhelming or present more challenges than expected. For these days, in particular, journaling can aid in processing any thoughts, emotions or feelings you experienced.
Reflecting on your day can help increase awareness of yourself, your habits and your inclinations when responding to certain people or situations. You might discover strengths you have yet to foster, or become aware of unsavory tendencies you’d prefer to change. Reflecting can help you process and let go of the things you can’t control and feel closure when it’s hard to find it elsewhere.
Discover art journaling
For those who want their journaling time to be a space for creative expression, art journaling and creative writing prompts are always great options. Art journaling blends scrapbooking, bullet journaling, drawing and writing into an artistic expression completely your own. There’s no right or wrong way to art journal; as long as it is a genuine expression of yourself, it’s a valid form of journaling.
Explore a spiritual journal
Many people find spirituality and religion an integral part of their life and mental health journey. Praying and meditating can be easily distracted, though, so journaling down meditative thoughts or revelations made during prayer can be a beautiful way to remember the spiritual experiences you had during these moments.
By going back and reflecting on what you’ve written during prayer, reflection or meditation during challenging times, you might find comfort and peace in your own words when you need it most.
Switch it up as you go
The best part about journaling is that there’s no right or wrong way to do it — you might even try out a couple of methods of journaling, with an art journal for when you have time to sit down and craft, and a gratitude journal for a brief, yet fruitful journaling session before going to bed.
And remember to not overthink it. There are plenty of journaling prompts to be found online, in addition to guided journals if you desire more accountability and structure. But so long as you are writing, crafting or bulleting what you need to process in a way that benefits you, you will feel the difference routine journaling makes in your life.
Additional mental health and self-care support
These are just suggestions, and you may find that certain prompts or methods don’t resonate with you as much as others. Ultimately, the journal is for you — for self-expression, exploration, growth and discovery — not to mention self-care.
And if you feel the need to speak with someone for additional support and guidance as you explore this area of yourself, feel free to reach out to The Light Program. Visit our website or call us today at 610-644-6464 to learn more.