How to Journal for Self Improvement
You may not have journaled since you were a kid. Or maybe you’ve never tried it and don’t see the point. But, the action of putting pen to paper is an extraordinarily beneficial way to improve your life. Journaling is an effortless way to change your life when nothing is going right.
Journaling is a powerful self-help tool that is gaining popularity. You can purchase a variety of journals online from stores such as Amazon as well as in bookshops. Coaches and therapists also use journaling to help clients. It is also incredibly easy to journal on your own in just a plain notebook. However, all journaling has one thing in common and that is writing.
Benefits of Journaling
Discover what’s important
When you free write, you end up writing about the things that are most important to you. They may be things that you don’t even think of as that important but looking back over your writings later will give you a strong inclination of what you find the most rewarding in your life.
For example, if you find yourself coming back to the idea of starting your own business over and over again, it’s obvious that it’s a dream that’s important to you and you might decide to go for it and see what happens.
Probably the biggest benefit from journaling is what you learn about yourself. When you read back your challenges and accomplishments, you can recognize areas where you need to focus on, and you can take pride in your achievements.
You still can do all this without a journal, but most people forget much of what they have done and why they did it.
We get used to living in a routine and frequently overlook the small actions we make that add up to beneficial changes in our lives over time. Journaling helps us see all the successes we’ve had, even when life isn’t going the way we want it to.
Using a journal as a form of tracking our successes can bring us a great deal of comfort when times are tough.
Let go of old emotional blocks
We can share our deepest fears and worries in a journal. When we feel down, we often need a sounding board more than we need advice, and journaling gives us that. We can let out and then let go of past hurts and failures, our needs and wants, without having to tell anyone about them but ourselves.
Writing is cathartic and can help us release old emotions and beliefs that are no longer serving us.
Find the answers
People who journal often report that they find the answers to problems within themselves by using journaling to tap into their unconscious. Each of us has the answers to every problem already inside of us and journaling is a way to access those answers in a positive way.
It’s amazing how allowing ourselves to be honest and open to our struggles ends up making the answer we’ve been seeking so obvious – it’s all there in black and white.
Many people who journal find themselves writing poetry or drawing to express themselves. A journal is a safe place to be creative.
There’s no judgment from others, just an open invitation to express ourselves in whatever way comes up. Allowing this creativity to spring forth is another way that our problems get solved because we allow our minds to be in a different, creative space that is open to all possibilities.
When you start to grow, you can help others do the same. Journaling can be your source of inspiration to help others.
You can even use passages to show the people you help. You do want to let them write their own journals, however. Still, showing what you have created from time to time can be a great inspiration for them.
There is no way to eliminate mistakes. However, recalling what mistakes you did make and what you did about them can go a long way in helping you to reduce those mistakes.
Write down your personal and professional events in a journal so that you can recall them in the future.
How to Journal Expressively
Expressive journaling can be your road to de-stressing and re-energizing your mind. It can help you declutter your brain and your soul, and help you get feelings out on paper where they can be examined and interpreted.
Journaling like this can further your self-improvement journey as it helps you live more of your life in the moment, as you deal with the past and future in your journal.
You’ll feel more secure in your daily life without all that hanging around in your brain, and you’ll find yourself enjoying your days with less worry and pressure.
There are lots of different types of expressive journals, and each of them can be used exclusively, or you can mix and match what you want when you want it. Herewith are some different ideas for expressive journals:
- Art Journal – Whether or not you are artistically talented, an art journal is an excellent idea if you love to doodle and sketch. What are you feeling? Turn that into a sketch. Draw an outline and then color it in with colored pencils or gel pens. If getting better at art is your goal, make the page opposite your creation where you write about how you feel about what you’ve created and how your progress is coming along.
- Gratitude Journal – There’s no better way to increase positive feelings in your life than with a gratitude journal. Each day, reflect on your experiences, what you’re thankful for, and lessons that you want to remember for the future. And then take it a step further and let the people you’re thankful for know about it!
- Dream Journal – Each morning, grab your dream journal and write down your dreams from the night before. Leave room after each dream, in case you come back with different insights later on, and you want to record them. Your dreams can tell you a lot about your waking life when they’re interpreted correctly!
- Creative Writing Journal – If stories are your thing, try a creative writing journal. Write a short story every day, or challenge yourself to write a short story in just 100, 200, or 300 words. Challenge yourself and hone your skills!
- Positivity Journal – Each day, pick something positive that happened that really inspired you. Write about what happened, the people involved, and how it made you feel. This can help you see more positive things in life overall, and helps decrease negativity.
Don’t overthink your journaling – just get started and try!
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How to Journal if you Hate Writing?
From simple to elaborate, any kind of picture that expresses your emotions and situation will help. After you’ve drawn the picture you can label and annotate it. If you leave a blank page opposite your drawing then you can come back and review it at a later date and jot down any additional thoughts, emotions, and responses.
Quite often this simple method will actually get you writing quickly.
Why not try using different types of pen or pencil to make your journaling more interesting and exciting?
If you are journaling about a problem, then you might consider using a diagram such as a mind map or decision tree.
Diagrams are powerful because they are visual and help you to see patterns and connections more easily.
If you are trying to make a decision, then you can illustrate the different outcomes and results to help you formulate the best decision. Adding in color not only makes them more attractive but can highlight connections.
Using a simple prompt such as a word or question can help break the blank page syndrome and inspire you to unburden yourself onto the empty page in front of you. It’s important that you don’t feel that you have to write a lot or even in full sentences.
The act of journaling has to relate to your needs at that moment in time and this will vary from day to day.
You could consider purchasing a journal designed for the specific use you need. There are lots of weight loss, gratitude, happiness, and other journals available. Many of these will include prompts and recording methods that don’t require lots of writing.
Create a Collage
Get some magazines or newspapers and cut out words, phrases, paragraphs, or even articles that relate to your situation or emotions at that particular point. Add in pictures that you find that could demonstrate how you are feeling or want to feel.
Again you can annotate it to make it truly personal. Leave a blank page so that you can revisit and review at a later time and add in additional journaling.
While writing using a pen and paper is probably the most powerful method of journaling you can also use dictation software such as Dragon. You’ll need the software and a computer with a microphone to use this method. It may be easier to start your journaling journey by speaking to the computer and imagining you are talking to a friend or just yourself. The software will ‘write’ what you say and you can save the document so that you can review it later.
You may decide to keep your journal electronically in which case you can review it and add in later thoughts and feelings by typing or dictating through the speech recognition software. Or you may decide to print it out and keep it in a binder. If you do print it out, then you have the opportunity to embellish it or make additional notes on the hard copy.
Journaling does not have to be undertaken every day for a set period of time if that does not suit you. Many people journal every day for 20 minutes as that is the method that suits them best. However, it may be that once a week is enough.
Alternatively, you may decide that you will journal when you feel you need it. Some days it may be that you choose to use a prompt or picture to kick-start your writing. Other days you may find that the words flow and you can write without stopping.
Ideas for Making your Journaling More Effective
Any type of journal that you keep can be beneficial. It doesn’t matter if it’s just to document your life or to work through problems – you can use a journal to do it all. From tracking your projects to documenting vacation to overcoming anxiety, a journal will work for you if you pick the right type and make journaling a ritual.
* Find the Right Medium for You – For some people, that’s pen and paper. Many experts claim that’s the best way because of its simplicity. However, you have to do what works for you, and what works for you is what you will do daily. If you make it too hard, you won’t do it.
* Turn Journaling Daily into a Habit – To be most effective, journaling has to go on for a long time. It’s a long-term strategy to improve your life and not something that is going to have any effect overnight. For this reason, ritualize your journaling so that it becomes a daily habit.
* Set Up a Comfy Journaling Spot – Find a good space you can journal in each day, one which is relaxing and without stress. Some people like to keep their journals by their bedside so that each night when they get into bed, they can quickly write in their journals.
* Choose the Right Style of Journal for Your Needs – The type of journal you want to keep depends on how you plan to use it. You may want to track a project, in which case you’ll need a project journal. If you want to simply document your life, you’d want a classic journal.
* Use Your Journal to Work Through Life and Reach Goals – Don’t just write in the journal; actively seek to improve something in your life – whether it’s the thoughts that drive your feelings or improving your actions so that you experience more success.
* Consider Using More Than Writing to Document Your Life – You don’t need to just use text. You can use images, pictures, tickets, and other memories inside your journal too. Sometimes a few pictures and mementos mean more than anything you can write to help you remember.
* Read and Reflect Occasionally – Take at least a few minutes to re-read parts of your journal. Once you’ve kept it for a year, it’s fun to go back and read the same day from last year to find out what’s different now and what’s the same, and why.
* Keep Your Journal Secure – You don’t want to worry about anyone getting into your private business when you’re not around, so keep it hidden. If it’s on your computer, keep it password protected.
If you know why you want to journal, it’ll be easier to figure out which type of journal you need to keep to make your journaling more effective. Sometimes you just want to document your life, while other times you want to work through something difficult. It really depends on your goals and the point of the journal.
The important points to remember are that the journal is a personal document designed to help you and that it is designed to be used and revised. It’s a living document and there is no right or wrong way to create or use it.
How to Journal for Self Improvement