Self-Care Awareness Month: Journaling Techniques
Self-Care Awareness Month
It’s still Self-Care Awareness month, and I’m sad it is almost over. I am sure y’all know that I am still going to be a major self-care encourager regardless of what month it is, so there will definitely be more self-care topics over the coming weeks and months. In case you’ve missed any of the previous weeks, you can always go back and check them out.
I’ve written a post about self-help and personal development books and ways to implement them into your day. I wrote another post all about how to create a daily night and morning self-care routine that you can stick to and some tips to keep you on track. Then, last week I wrote a post about affirmations and how to use them as a powerful self-help tool.
This week is going to be about journaling and different techniques you can use when journaling.
Journaling and Therapy
Journaling is not a complicated practice, but I often find that clients think it is overwhelming or feel like there are a lot of rules they should be following when using journaling as part of their self-care. Journaling is simply the process of writing down your thoughts and feelings with a focus on your internal experiences as a way to reflect on them. There really is no wrong way to do it, but I have a few suggestions you can try if you’re struggling with how to use journaling as a part of your day.
Think of writing as a way to clear out your brain of all the stuff that is cluttering it and causing distress or angst. When you have too many thoughts or too many feelings all swirling around in your mind at one time, it can feel very overwhelming and this can often make you want to shut down. Although, talking about your feelings is a good idea too, journaling and writing allows for a different brain process to occur. It can be very healing for the cognition to feel less cluttered by all the junk you’re keeping inside your brain.
Lindsay’s Tip: After you’ve been keeping a journal for a while, it can be fun to look back on the progress you’ve made along the way.
Keep in mind that some people feel uneasy about writing things down for fear that someone may read their private thoughts. There is no rule that says you have to keep your journals. After writing, you have the option to tear the pages up into little pieces, use a paper shredder or even a controlled burn to get rid of your journal. It can actually be therapeutic to imagine you’re destroying the written evidence of the things that are bothering you.
Lindsay’s Warning: Please Please Please exercise extreme caution if burning things. Ensure it’s a well-ventilated area or outdoors. Some people use their barbeque grill or fire pit. Just be safe if that’s the route you go!
Different Types of Journaling
There really are so many different types of journaling techniques, and y’all know I like to give examples of how to implement things into your life, so below I’ve included a list of journaling ideas and a brief explanation on how each one could be accomplished and added to your self-care routine.
Writing Journal - This is the basic diary type of journal that you’re probably familiar with. If you are thinking of keeping a writing journal, I suggest finding a schedule that works best for you, and try to implement it as a consistent part of your life. Maybe you chose to write a brief summary of your day as the last thing you do before going to bed, or maybe you would rather spend time reflecting on yesterday as a way to start your day.
Lindsay’s Tip: Don’t feel like you have to do this everyday if that feels overwhelming. Every other day or even once a week could offer enough consistency to help declutter your mind.
Lindsay’s Tip: You could use this type of journal sporadically and only when you feel a build up of emotions that need to be released.
Bullet Journal - This is the same basic concept as a writing journal, but instead of writing in complete sentences, you would use bullet points to list out the highlights or main points. It is a much faster option then the writing journal, so it may be a good option if time is a concern.
Gratitude Journaling - I love Love LOVE gratitude in all forms. It’s just so great for the brain and the cognition, and I cannot recommend it highly enough. If you are thinking of adding a gratitude practice to you days, gratitude journaling is a quick and simple way to do so. To implement this as a part of your morning routine or night routine, quickly write down 3-5 things you are grateful for.
Lindsay’s Tip: If you are having trouble thinking 3-5 things, just start by writing 1 per day. Remember there is not just one right way to do things.
Lindsay’s Tip: Instead of just thinking of 3-5 random things, use the following ideas to get you started:
Write down 1 thing you’re grateful for about your family
Write down 1 thing you’re grateful for about your work life
Write down 1 thing you’re grateful for about yourself
Lindsay’s Tip: As you get more comfortable about with keeping a gratitude journal, you may want to start using it throughout your day to take note of grateful moments you experience.
Lindsay’s Tip: You could also decide to write letters of gratitude to people who you care about or mean something to you. Make a list of who you are grateful for (make sure you’re on that list), and just pick 1 per day or 1 per week or 1 per month to write a letter to.
It’s not a requirement to actually send these letters, so they could be written in a journal that you keep. Of course if you decide to send them, I bet they would brighten someone’s day.
Affirmation Journaling - I talked about affirmations in last week’s blog, and I mentioned that sometimes saying affirmations out loud is strange at first or just doesn’t feel comfortable. Keeping an affirmation journal is a great way to incorporate 2 self-care techniques into one activity. Pick 3-5 affirmations that you’d like to start with, and write each one 10-15 times per day in your affirmation journal.
Lindsay’s Tip: Stick with the same ones for at least 7 days before changing or adding others. The consistency of writing the same affirmations multiple times over multiple days helps the brain to latch on to them and to start believing them.
Quote Journaling - I love inspirational and motivational quotes, and keeping a journal of your favorites is a great way to start incorporating journaling into your day.
Lindsay’s Tip: As you are scrolling social media, save the quotes that speak to you in your phone or on your computer. Then, once a day or once a week, sit down and write them in your journal. You may want to add a sentence or 2 about why you saved the quote. It’s a way to save them and also spend some time reflecting through journaling.
Mindfulness Journaling - Mindfulness is all about staying present and living in the moment. There are 2 basic ways to keep a mindfulness journal.
Lindsay’s Tip: Set an alarm/alert on your phone at different intervals during your day. Morning, midday, afternoon, and night would be a good schedule to start with, and you can set the times to correspond with your other scheduled activities. When the alarm sounds, take note of how you’re feeling and write is down. It doesn’t have to be a long journal entry, but you can write as much as you’d like to.
Some people just write down on a scale of 1-10 how they are feeling. I’m going to keep reminding you that there is not just one write way to use journaling as a tool in your self-care.
Food Journaling - Whether or not you are trying to eat healthier or you just want to document your food experiences, food journaling can be a quick way to keep track of things.
Lindsay’s Tip: Take a picture of your favorite dishes when out to dinner, and save them in a folder on your phone. Anytime you want to reminisce, you have them easily accessible to look at.
Lindsay’s Tip: Combine food journaling with mindfulness journaling and take a gauge of how you are feeling either right before or right after enjoying a meal. Make the process fit your life.
Travel Journaling - If you love to travel, keeping a travel journal is an easy way to start incorporating a journaling technique into your life.
Lindsay’s Tip: Take pictures of your favorite experiences and destinations while traveling, print them out and arrange in a small journal scrapbook after each trip.
Lindsay’s Tip: Take time each day while traveling to reflect on your experiences of the day and document your favorite moments.
Art/Drawing/Doodling Journaling - Rather than feeling like you have to express yourself using words, why not try keeping a art journal. This also incorporates some creativity time into your day which is great for your cognition.
Project Journaling - This is a form of list journaling. It’s especially helpful to use a tool if you’re feeling overwhelmed by all the projects you are working on or want to do. It’s also a form of a bullet journal, so use that same idea. Just quickly jot down all the ideas that are swirling in your mind.
Lindsay’s Tip: Once they are all written out, it becomes easier to prioritize things and to determine where you want to focus your attention.
Workout Journaling - This type of journaling can be a great way to document your progress working out. And it’s, also a great way to look back on how far you’ve come in the process. You could do a mindfulness check before and/or after a workout, or you could track the different exercises you are doing each workout. Many of my clients have used this type of journaling a way to motivate themselves to keep working towards their fitness goals.
Brainstorming journaling - Brainstorming is a kind of list making project, and it can be done in so many ways.
Lindsay’s Tip: I like to suggest using what I call “popcorn journaling” and it’s also called mindmapping. I’ve included an example below for you to use as a model if you want to try this technique.
Sometimes the idea of starting with a blank piece of paper feels very overwhelming, so that is where prompt journals become your best friend. There are so many great ones available that will offer you daily or weekly prompts to get you started, and here are some links to my favorites to get you started.
The whole 52 Lists series is amazing:
I love all the Zen as F@ck series:
This is the journal I just ordered, and I can’t wait to start using it (there is also one specifically for mothers, so I included that link too):
Make it Fun
You are more likely to maintain consistency if you are having fun with your journaling. You can literally use a scrap piece of paper, the back of a receipt or a blank note in your phone, but if you are looking for some fun journaling supplies, I wanted to include links to a few of my favorite journaling tools I’ve found throughout my own journey.
I love using my Moleskin journals, because they come in all sizes and colors! I also recommend writing in your journals using fun colors or doing things to make it more fun and interesting to you. If it feels like work, you’re less likely to do it.
Here are some links to my favorite pens and markers that I use in my own journaling:
I also love these highlighters because they never dry out!!!
The goal is to have fun with it and figure out what works best for you.
***This post contains affiliate links, and I may receive a very small commission if you purchase through those links at no additional cost to you. Thank you for helping me out.***
Start Where You Are
I’m going to sound like a broken record, but starting where you are is the key to success. If you’ve never journaled before, it may be daunting to imagine how to start. However, if you allow yourself to begin without overthinking it you will discover how powerful it can be to use journaling as a self-care tool in your daily life.
It’s to the point now that if I miss a few days of my own journaling, I start to feel a build up of junk that needs to get out. As soon as I write out what I’m thinking and feeling, I feel so much relief and I feel emotionally lighter.
Work with Me
If you are interested in setting up an appointment for therapy, life coaching, or consulting or if you would like more information about ways to incorporate and implement self-care into your life or how to use affirmations as part of your daily routine, you can call my office directly at 314-485-9189 or feel free to send me a message. My direct email address is firstname.lastname@example.org and you can also follow me on Facebook, Instagram, and Pinterest for more life and relationship tips!
I will be launching a number of new workshops and coaching groups in the next few months, so there will be many ways to connect and work with me! Stay tuned for details on them coming soon!
Therapy Thoughts Workshops
If you are local to the St. Louis area and interested in attending my monthly Therapy Thoughts Workshops, I just wanted to let you know they are on hold for a bit, but we will be back soon with more helpfulness. I love being able to bring you a great discussion with tips to implement into your life. I’m so grateful to the The Bike Stop Cafe for this opportunity, and I can’t wait to see how this develops in the future! If you have topics or questions you’d like me to cover in a future workshop, please let me know. Either send me an email email@example.com or call my office 314-485-9189.
Therapy Thoughts Podcast
My Therapy Thoughts podcast has re-launched, and I am so excited!!! Each new episode will be uploaded to my Therapy Thoughts Podcast Blog on the website each Thursday afternoon at 2:00pm CST, and then I’ll share it to all the podcasting sites from there. It is also available on the Apple iTunes podcast site, and you can subscribe so you never miss an episode!
Last week we talked about Relationships & Courageous Conversation. If you want to check it out, here is the link to Episode 6.
We have officially changed the name of the podcast from Therapy Thoughts Podcast to Therapy Thoughts with Lindsay. I like this name change as it is more personal, and it will make sure there is no confusion with any other podcasts that may be similar.
I really am so grateful to all of you for your continued support, and I hope you’ll tune in this Thursday for episode 7. Remember to make sure you are following all my social media platforms so will know when each new episode is available. And, make sure you subscribe to my YouTube channel, so you will be able to watch the episodes once I have the videos ready to go!