Journaling: A Gift to Yourself

A guide to the benefits of free-writing journaling.

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Journaling is a gift of time and attention to yourself. The gift of free expression, of allowing your words to spontaneously flow onto paper. They often emerge as a list or stream of consciousness. Enjoy a meditative escape from expectations, goals and deadlines. It’s like doodling with words. The flow can be initiated by a prompt: a word, a phrase or an open question. The resonances with the prompt will be unique to you. They might bring reminders, revelations or release. Treat yourself to the gift of journaling to enhance your creativity and well-being.

Journaling offers fast relief when you are overwhelmed by emotions. Simply write I feel… and safely vent onto paper. You can forget about spelling, grammar and punctuation or what anyone else might think. Simply releasing the words will bring relief. Reading them may reveal more nuanced emotions, contradictions, mixed feelings and underlying motivations. A calmer, clearer perspective will make it easier to deal with the distressing situation. The paper you wrote on is easily destroyed to bring a sense of closure.

When you are kept awake by a whirlpool of anxieties, fears or a sense of injustice, give them attention by writing them down. Your inner storyteller will straighten endless circular thoughts into sentences and link them to help you understand the situation more clearly. Having unburdened your mind, you can fall asleep.

The same technique can be used to unchain you from past troubles. Use it to declutter your mind of past anger, grief, shame, resentments or regrets. Revisit an event and view it from your perspective at the time. Your words may bring understanding and compassion which may make it easier to forgive yourself and others; another gift to yourself. Start with the mildest event and limit yourself to a five-minute journaling session to minimise distress. You can even clear the air with people from your past. Simply initiate a dialogue and write their responses with your non-dominant hand. Journal gratitude to yourself for dealing with each issue, and for starting to break habits of keeping quiet, denial or confrontation.

Journal to seek internal solutions to your personal problems. The answers are within. Journal to discover the healing power of fresh perspectives. If you journal regularly, some advice that you fail to act upon will keep cropping up. Proactively journal about small problems before they grow.

We tend to focus on problems because being alert to danger is a survival skill. Gratitude journaling acts as a counterbalance, bringing a sense of appreciation and abundance. We notice more of what we focus on. By focusing on the best in your life, you will appreciate it more. Journal gratitude for your strengths and successes to boost your confidence. Journal on the word success to expand and personalise your definition of it.

Bad day? Instead of dwelling on what went wrong, write down three specific highlights of your day. A quick list or longer, richer descriptions. Repeat daily at bedtime until no day seems completely bad, however painful. There’s always something to be grateful for.

Cheer yourself up by using sensual prompts to reconnect with uplifting memories. Try to remember the detail of an event on a specific day. Write them in a beautiful journal to be treasured and revisited. A resource guaranteed to lift your spirits and confidence. What were you wearing at your proudest moment?

Are you fretting about a dreaded future? Rekindle hope by journaling about a vibrant future and how to achieve it.

Journaling is an effective route to self-discovery. Take time to reflect on your life. Using specific open questions as prompts is a start. Expand by journaling What question do I need to ask? and hand over responsibility to your inner wisdom to tell you what you need to know. Do this by exploring any prompt more deeply. Write continuously for a longer set time. You might start writing a description and then diverge into thoughts, feelings, ideas and insights. Be prepared for some surprising and even uncomfortable insights into your behaviour. Your words may reveal authentic needs, desires and values. They will make it easier to prioritise, be decisive, and to let go. Self-awareness is needed for self-acceptance, understanding and compassion which may bring self-forgiveness. You will be creating a more loving, less judgmental, relationship with yourself. It will benefit all your relationships

Journal whenever you want to boost your well-being, need inspiration, ideas, insights or creative solutions.

Rereading your journals will reveal your progress and changing perspectives. You will discover which ideas have been implemented without striving. Recurring themes may attract your attention. Enjoy rediscovering uplifting memories, ideas and insights. All of them could provide a basis for further journaling.

Journaling can help you discover a talent for writing. As a writer, it is a joy to be able to pick up a pen and paper and unleash waves of creativity at will. And to join those who believe that writer’s block is a fantasy.

My own journaling experience started with gratitude journaling as part of a pain-management programme. It helped me to cope after a life-changing accident and to appreciate what I had rather than mourning my losses. I learnt to recognise which activities boosted my well-being. Years later, John Siddique introduced me to free-writing journaling at the Canterbury Wise Words Festival. The resultant flow of ideas, insights and creative solutions to problems has transformed my life. Journaling has enhanced my confidence, self-image and mental resilience. I started Julie’s Journaling sessions to share my passion. Regular group journaling in response to eclectic or themed prompts is uplifting. Our words remain confidential to enable us to be completely honest with the page.

All you need is a pen and paper to start discovering the benefits of journaling. It just takes a few minutes anytime, anywhere. The resultant ripples will spread outwards and be reflected. They can gently enhance your creativity, relationships, well-being and resilience. Are you ready to start enriching your life by journaling?

Navigating a river of travelogues, whirlpools of free-writing journalling and plunging into the ocean of fantasy short stories.

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