It’s 11pm and you’re staring at a blank page with little or no inspiration apart from a nagging voice inside telling you your life will be transformed if only you were journaling daily.
Perfect. Layer on a side of guilt, disappointment and frustration to your already growing list of emotions.
The prospect of regurgitating the day onto a page, spilling our heartfelt experiences immediately before we’re supposed to feel serene enough to drift off into a blissful sleep can be less palatable than the fast food, we bolted two hours earlier.
Here’s the thing. Journaling doesn’t have to be another full-time job. And, it can be something we look forward to. After all, its purpose is to support our wellbeing not add to our stress and discomfort.
It’s proven that journaling accelerates your ability to manifest your goals. Creating clarity and congruence. It’s something I often work with clients on. Finding a journaling rhythm that works for them.
Here are my four tips for stress free journaling:
Start with a number – Rate your day. On a scale of 1-10 (with one being ‘I’m glad that’s over and 10 being ‘my best day ever’). Why? Well this gives you a benchmark. Not only that, it gives you ‘your’ benchmark. One you can choose to work with going forward. For example, today was a 6. What would’ve made it a 7 or an 8? This is a tried and tested method of nudging us forward, noticing what keeps us at a 4 and what’s different when we confidently pop a 9 at the top of the page.
Keep it simple – Use a pre created format that you actually like. It can help to keep it in threes. Three things I learnt today, three things I noticed about myself today, three things that delighted or frustrated me today. It’s all about spotting patterns – that’s the magic.
Say what you want – Lets face it, no one else is going to read your journal. So, feel free to let loose and say exactly what you want. You have complete freedom here. Enjoy it, imagine, create, build. When we allow our self this luxury it releases positive endorphins and creates new neural pathways of possibility we can explore if we want to.
End on a high – List the things you’re grateful for today. This may take a bit of time to get used to but there are significant benefits to including gratitude to your journaling. Being in a state of gratitude not only reduces physical and phycological stress it actually helps you to sleep better. A study in 2009 found that gratitude helps to increase the depth and the length of your sleep. Plus we know quality of sleep is directly linked to good mental health.
Finally, avoid beating yourself up if you miss a day or a few days. Just pick it back up again and maybe note ‘what stopped you’ as a start.