Journaling is a word you have probably seen all over your social media timelines at one point or another. The truth is, however, nobody really knows exactly what it means...but it’s provocative and it gets the people going.
I started journaling in high school. Initially, I don’t think I had much of an emotional connection to journaling. For context, I have always been obsessed with stationery and fancy pens -- so give me a good pen and I’m down to go. However, it wasn’t until towards the end of my high school career that I realized the actual power that journaling harnessed.
As with any person preparing to transition from one stage of life to the next, I felt a lot of things. Largely, I felt myself experiencing a lot of uncertainty and anxiety about the future. Since so much of my time was being spent thinking about college and other aspects of my future (and rightfully so), I found myself never really living in the moment. It was during this transitional period that I started to write in my journal with more purpose and intent.
Initially, I would start journaling by simply asking myself “How do I feel?” and my responses would range from something as simple as one word to paragraphs depending on how I felt, but nonetheless I allowed myself to feel whatever I was feeling at that very moment and tap into the flow.
While journaling has become almost second nature for me, I understand that’s not always the case for others and I would love for as many people possible to realize the healing potential in a good journaling practice.
So here are a few tips/resources to help you ease into the practice altogether:
Thorns and Roses - This is an activity I used to do in elementary school with my classmates towards the end of the day. It was a brief and fun way to wrap up the end of the day and highlight any highs or lows we experienced. The “thorns” represent the lows and the “rose” represents the highs you may have experienced during the day. This is a great way to debrief and unpack your feelings. If you’re a visual person like me, feel free to add in a quick little sketch of thorns and roses.
Guided Prompts - I’m rarely ever at a loss for words, but sometimes I need a little extra push in the right direction so I turn to guided prompts. My favorite prompts come from one of my favorite authors, Alex Elle. She currently has two different guided journals one that focuses on practicing gratitude and another that allows you to affirm yourself whenever needed.
• Today I Affirm: A Journal that Nurtures Self Care
• Growing in Gratitude:150 Days of Expressing Thanks
Set Goals + Be Realistic - I think this goes without saying with anything you set out to accomplish, but you have to set realistic goals. Start off modest, commit to journaling a few times a week and try different times of the day to see which suits you best.
Lean Into Discomfort - I’ve realized that journaling almost always forces you to acknowledge your true feelings and sometimes those feelings might evoke some sort of discomfort. Lean into that. Discomfort is merely a pathway to growth.
Be Creative - Think outside of the box, buy a few colored pencils or pens, maybe even stickers if you’re feeling fancy. Truly allow yourself to express yourself and show up as your truest self, no matter how that looks.
Hopefully some, if not several, of these tips work for you and can help you pivot into the actualization of a strong journaling practice. Here's to letting it all out on paper, to releasing suppressed emotions that we've been unable to give language to, and most importantly to happy healing.