At Healthoholics, journaling is a practice we recommend often. And, with our focus being Self-Care this month, there’s no way we could avoid diving into the topic!
In an article published on Mic.com, Maud Purcell, a psychotherapist and journaling expert, shared the following: “Writing accesses the left hemisphere of the brain, which is analytical and rational… While your left brain is occupied, your right brain is free to do what it does best, i.e. create, intuit and feel. In this way, writing removes mental blocks and allows us to use more of our brainpower to better understand ourselves and the world around us.”
Many of us intuitively know that journaling is good for our mental and emotional health, and the science is rather solid that journaling can even assist us in healing physical wounds. I’m willing to bet most of us had a diary or journal at some point in our lives. So, why don’t more adults journal regularly?
The most common reason we hear is – “I don’t know what to write!”
That leads us to the purpose of today’s blog post! Today we’re discussing seven different types of journals, to help you get started with a journaling practice even if you “don’t know what to write”!
Free writing is the type of journaling that most of us think of when we hear the word “journaling”. You may have also heard it called stream-of-consciousness journaling. Basically, you sit down with pen and paper, and you write what comes to mind.
When I was studying Nutrition, I took a Psychology-related class where I was tasked with the homework of writing in a journal every single day for 20 minutes. Can I tell you how overwhelmed I felt on the first few days? Oh my!
But, as with anything, as time went on… the more I practiced, the better I became at writing, and the easier it felt! Being able to read my own words back, I gained some significant insights into my own life, and made huge changes to relationships I had at the time.
Free writing in my journal was a task that I dreaded at the beginning of the course, and one that I loved and appreciated by the end.
All this to say, free writing is always a journaling option – even if it seems overwhelming at first! To get started, set yourself a timer for 2 or 5 or 10 minutes, and just write for that long. Sometimes the best way to get started is just to get started.
Life Event Journal
Any big life event whether it be travel, a new baby, a new home, or getting married could be the topic of it’s own journal.
There are lots of ready-made life events journals out there, which for many of us, are helpful. All we need to do is fill in the blanks!
Keeping a little notebook beside your bed to write your dreams down in is another journaling option. Our dreams often have hidden messages for us, and writing them down for later review can help us find the patterns.
Personally, I have a lot of dreams about being back in high-chool and writing tests or studying for exams when I’m feeling anxious about something in my life. It’s often a good sign for me that I need to re-group or decompress in some way.
A bullet journal is exactly what it sounds like – a journal of 3 to 5 bullets per day.
I have found that I love writing down: 3 things I accomplished, 1 thing that challenged me, and 1 thing I’m grateful for.
Bullet journals only take 1-2 minutes per day, so we lose the possible excuse that “I don’t have time”, while still reaping many of the benefits of getting our daily thoughts down on paper.
Can you guess what a sentence journal is? I’m guessing you can!
Now, could you commit to writing down one sentence daily that describes what happened in your life that day? An interesting thought, isn’t it?
I plan on undertaking this journaling challenge with my little one when she starts back to school this September.
A diet diary is another type of journaling we’re familiar with at Healthoholics.
At the end of the day, journaling is getting thoughts and habits out of your mind and into a tangible form via written word. A food diary, exercise tracking, or record of other daily habits certainly fits those criteria!
A diet diary can help us build new routines (and stick to them!) as well as gain insights into what habits are working for us, and which ones need a little extra finessing.
Gratitude journaling may just be my favourite type of journaling!
In a gratitude journal, you only write things you are grateful for. Whether that’s something as deliberate as a promotion at work, or as awe-inspiring as witnessing your child’s first steps, to something as mundane as having air-conditioning on a hot day, or as contemplative as a lesson learned during a challenging time – we all have much to be grateful for.
Focussing on the good in our lives allows us to shift from a negative mindset into a more positive one.
With gratitude journaling the quality is more important than the quantity. Some research has shown that the depth of your gratitude means more than the breadth. So, make sure you’re really taking time to consider just how grateful you are for each blessing or gift… what would your life be like without it, was this expected or a surprise, and how did it impact you and the people you love?
Gratitude journaling may also be best done on a weekly basis, rather than a daily one, for the best health benefits – so, it can be a great start into the world of journaling!
If you’re interested in more tools to help you get started in journaling, join us next week on Wednesday, July 19th for our Self-Care Night. Along with a presentation by our resident Mental Health Counselor, Grace Howe, and specials on many self-care-related products, we’ll have a bunch of different journaling templates available for the taking!
You can RSVP here. We hope to see you there!
Do you have a journal? If so, what type? Do you have any ideas we didn’t cover here? Let us know about it in the comments below.