I love keeping a daily journal, even though I used to be a non-believer in the benefits of journaling! From bullet journaling to dutch-door journaling, there are so many different ways of journaling, which means you’re definitely going to find a journaling technique that suits you the most.
Benefits of mind journaling are seemingly endless, but here’s a few of my faves:
- Make sense of your life: Each and every one of us can’t resist the urge to ‘understand’ or be understood. Journaling helps you sort out your thoughts into neat little piles so you can see why you do certain things and how you can improve on yourself.
- See how far you’ve come: Journaling is a fab way to measure what you’ve done in your life over a period of time. You’ll be surprised at how much you’ve achieved in as little as six months. This can be a motivator in itself and lead to even greater things…
- Expresses creativity: Creativity isn’t just about drawing, painting, singing and so on. Creativity is the ability to conjure up clever solutions to your problems. Journaling helps us to brainstorm ideas to our thoughts, issues and problems – it’s one of the best ways to get those initial creative juices flowing.
- Makes you laugh: Recounting humorous memories can get those endorphins flowing, giving you a brilliant rush and putting you in a great mood.
- Improves sleep quality: Noting down various thoughts, ideas and tasks you need to do tomorrow just before bedtime can greatly improve your quality of sleep. You won’t be plagued by stress and anxiety keeping you up at night. You can sleep soundly knowing that you got it covered on your to-do list for the following day.
I recommend using a diary format throughout Mon to Fri, with a well-deserved rest on Saturdays and Sundays. I’m not saying journalling is a chore that should be resigned to the working week. Oh, far from it. It’s just that most of us may benefit more from Mon-Fri journalling as opposed to journalling all week. Research has proved that keeping a journal for as little as five days can noticeably transform your mood and outlook on life.
Here’s a basic diary keeping technique to jumpstart your journaling journey and improve your mental health and well-being:
Monday: Give thanks
Most people don’t like Mondays, right? But there’s a way you can inject a little happiness into every Monday just by writing down your gratitude and appreciation. Think back over the past week and jot down three things you’ve felt grateful for. This can be anything from ‘catching the train on time every day to work’ to ‘having a lovely conversation with a stranger.’ Simple events usually work best for this – although you may feel like writing down the ‘bigger’ things. List down the three things you’re most grateful for. If you can think of more than three, then go for it!
Tuesday: the good times
We all have good memories in our lives – whether that’s falling in love or listening to a breathtaking album. Today is the day to choose one of your best memories and write all about it. Your writing doesn’t have to be structured as such – it can be in a stream-of-consciousness form. This is effectively a mindfulness exercise where you plant yourself in that particular moment in time. Write down how you felt, what the weather was like, what you could smell, what you could see, what you could hear, etc. Spend a couple of minutes writing down your thoughts and don’t pay any attention to spelling or grammar – this is for you and not anyone else!
Wednesday: the best version of yourself
Now this is one that isn’t covered enough in journaling, in my opinion! Write a letter from your future self to you in the present detailing what your life is like now (in the future), what you’ve achieved, where you’re living, how you’re feeling and what you’ve been up to. It’s important to be as realistic as possible – so don’t tell present you that you’ve won millions in the lottery! This journaling exercise is designed to help you realise the person you want to become is completely achievable – if you can’t write about it and imagine it…of course it can come true! This can really help boost your mood and you’ll find you can’t stop smiling afterwards.
Thursday: Dear you
Another letter writing journal exercise, Dear You is where you write a letter to someone who is a very important part of your life. This can be anyone including a partner, friend, family member or even your pet. The idea is to write down why they’re such a vital asset to your life, why they’re such a wonderful person, how they’ve made a great impact on your life, their positive traits and how much you care about them. Naturally, you don’t have to send this letter because just the act of writing it down can get your adrenaline pumping and get those endorphins running through your body. But if you do choose to send it, this could give you brownie points in the mood boosting department…and it could make your loved one feel absolutely amazing too!
Friday: The big review
This is a short but sweet journal entry. It’s the part where you cast your mind back to the last five days and write down three things that went really well for you. They can be anything from really little, trivial things such as enjoying a really smooth coffee to life-changing events like getting a new job or making a fab new friend!
The Science Behind Journaling
According to Positive Psychology Progress Empirical Validation of Interventions, by Dr Martin E. P. Seligman et al., the effects of keeping a journal like this for just one week can have a huge positive effect on your mood for as long as two months. Participants in the study were asked to build up gratitude and focus on identifying their strengths by journaling for a few months. One week after the exercises, people felt happier and declared that the gratitude exercises made them feel the most positive! This effect lasted at both the three month and six month follow up!
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