Reflecting by Journaling
Fill your paper with the breathings of your heart – William Wordsworth
We’ve all had a lot happen in the past several months. Emphasis: A LOT. Think about the changes we’ve all endured in such a short amount of time. Have you been able to process it all? Now that it’s summer and you have some downtime, you’re likely doing some reflecting. You might be reflecting on the state of the world, your life, or your loved ones. You might be processing those thoughts alone in your head, or by talking with friends and family. But if you aren’t already, writing down your thoughts is a powerful way to reflect on all that’s going on inside you.
Why write? Putting down our thoughts and ideas into the written word is a way to chronicle the events and memories of our lives (and we are living in strange times!) It’s also a way to process our feelings and can be a cathartic release. With all that’s happening in the world, you likely have had some strong feelings, whether fear, uncertainty, sadness, or even hope and optimism. I go through periods where I journal every day, and other times I might write once or twice a month. Sometimes I write a lot, sometimes just a few sentences. I’ve kept my diaries over the years and occasionally will look back on them. This retrospective look has helped me make sense of events in my life. It also helps me get in touch with who I was, and who I’m becoming. Grab a pen and paper and get writing! Use these tips:
Any amount or format is good! You don’t have to write pages upon pages per entry. Any amount of journaling is helpful. You also don’t have to write in a “diary’ format – you could simply write a poem or draw a picture or just doodle! Just be open to any form of expression that comes to you.
Be consistent. Aiming for some sort of consistency in your writing will help you reap the benefits. For instance, you could write at night right before bed. Or sitting on the porch with your morning coffee. Put your journal in a place you’ll see it and remember to use it. Incorporate your writing into a daily ritual.
Go digital. Though writing with pen and paper is nice, we ARE in the digital age. And you might find handwriting daunting or slow. So how about using a journaling app or using word processing tool? Check out this list of the latest journaling apps, some which include various tagging and organizing functions, the ability to add pictures and video, or inspirational questions or prompts. However you express yourself, use the medium that’s easiest for you.
Keep Under lock and key Are you deterred to write in the first place because you’re worried someone will read your journal? Don’t be. I have a journal with a lock on it (not a little gold key like my pink diary had when I was 10)! Nowadays, there are nice journals with numeric locks, for instance, see this one on Amazon. Or if you’re going digital, many journaling apps include personal passcodes to open the app. For me, having a lock gives me peace of mind about keeping my innermost thoughts from snooping family members.
Use charts, trackers, sentence starters. If you feel like you don’t know where to start, consider using structured writing prompts. For instance, you can use charts to track your feelings or healthy habits. You can also use sentence starters in your journaling – here are some ideas:
- Right now, I feel ______________ because ______________…
- Today, I was surprised by __________________…
- I’m grateful for _________________…
Why not try it for a week?
The scariest moment [about writing] is always just before you start. – Stephen King