This is the first part in an ongoing series on rituals that can make you mentally and physically strong.
Let's face it: life can be difficult. It can get rough physically, emotionally, and mentally. At the end of the day, we succumb to the pressures of life and let stress get the best of us. It can be overwhelming at times.
Not to worry though! There are simple actions you can take that will help make life more manageable. One of these actions is journaling. Read on. When you are done, download my free 7 Day Journal Challenge Workbook. So you can have a little fun while you learn to or start to journal again.
Journaling is one of my favorite personal rituals. It is so easy! All I do is grab a notebook and write. I don’t even think about what I’m going to write, I just write.
I've been journaling even before I knew how to write. Journaling kept me company, along with the characters in the many books I read as an only child in my household. It is a part of my daily ritual that is non-negotiable.
A ritual can help anyone achieve their goals in life. It’s not a secret formula per se, but rather a collection of daily habits that can help you unlock your full potential.
I journal when I feel lost, lonely, or run out of ideas. It is one of those mindfulness habits I love to practice.
"Journal writing, when it becomes a ritual for transformation, is not only life-changing but life-expanding". ~ Jen Williamson
As I get older, I get more thoughtful about brain health. Taking blood pressure medications makes me keenly aware of conditions that affect my brain health.
One of the many benefits of journaling is stress reduction. Stress can contribute to high blood pressure. This article also indicates that journaling about stressful events has "a positive impact on physical wellbeing”.
Whenever I feel stressed about something, I take out my journal and write whatever comes to mind. Usually, by the time I finish writing, I feel better, and my thoughts are less chaotic.
Many documented studies show that journaling is a fun and mindful activity that enhances wellbeing. Having experienced these benefits over the course of my life, I didn't need a study to tell me that.
But less about me and more about you.
How can journaling help you? Journaling can help you:
Organize your thoughts
When life gets chaotic and you can't seem to think straight. Grab a notebook and start writing. This exercise will help you work through your feelings.
Practicing journal writing helps us see ourselves more clearly and objectively. It can offer a sense of calm and peace when we look back at our thoughts and feelings from previous days. It keeps us focused.
There's no single formula for journaling. No standard way or structure. The main thing is to just write.
Tip: Dr. Daniel Amen recommends writing about upsetting events at least once a day for 15 minutes. When you get something out on paper, you're able to "process it more effectively," he says, which has been proven to reduce stress-related hormones even more than talking about an event does."
Don't limit yourself. Pretend you are talking to your therapist or a friend. Write how you talk.
Record your dreams. Set your goals.
Use a journal to write down your dreams. What do you want? And why? When do you want it?
Each of us has our own set of goals and dreams. These goals define us and drive us to be more than what we are right now.
In order to achieve our goals, we need to know where we’re going. And in order to know where we’re going, we need a map — or a journal — that can guide us through the rough patches and help us achieve our dreams.
Write it all down. You can even draw pictures and symbols.
Or cut out pictures and paste them on the pages. For example, if you have a dream house, vacation or car in mind. Cut out a picture or download a free graphic of the object of your dream. Paste them on your journal pages.
I’ve also used journaling to recreate my dreams by drawing what I could remember.
Stay in an attitude of gratitude
Dr. Amen, talks about keeping a gratitude journal. It's hard to focus on what you don't have when you practice gratitude. Journaling can help you focus on giving thanks.
When life throws things at you, write down one or two things for which you are grateful. It can be as simple as "I'm grateful I can breathe without an oxygen mask or ventilator".
I recommend starting with 3 basic questions: 1) What am I grateful for? 2) What am I worried about? 3) What am I looking forward to?
Spend 5 minutes answering these questions, then either journal about something else or end your session with a short prayer of gratitude that encompasses what you are grateful for in that moment.
Stay motivated and focused
It's easy to get distracted by what life brings each day. Also, social media can dictate how we feel about our own situation.
And when we are solely focused on the needs of our children. We are less focused on ourselves.
But when you get distracted by what's going on in your life at this moment. Open your journal and review what you've written in the past. Read over your dreams and goals.
Journaling helps us process our emotions, which makes us feel less overwhelmed and gives us a clearer perspective on what we want in life.
"Journaling helps us identify our patterns so we can recognize when we're repeating cycles that aren't serving us well. ~ Jennifer Francis
Track your progress and self-reflection
When I was studying to become a real estate salesperson, I wrote my income goals in my journal. I wrote down how much I would make in sales in my first year.
My mentor at the time told me that new agents didn't make any sales in their first year. She said that the first year was meant to learn all you can about the real estate business.
Yet, I exceeded my goal of $1m in sales in my first year.
Looking back, I realized that I used my journal to record my vision for myself as an agent. Journaling my goals allowed me to review my past goals and examine the state of mind I was in at the time.
Tip: Be careful about what you write. Because my intent was to make $1m in income in my first year. (It didn't really matter if it was possible or not. What mattered is that I believed it could happen.)
I didn't write that. I wrote $1m in sales instead. I made $1.2 million in sales in my first 9 months.
Set specific intentions
Be specific in your intention. Bare your soul. Do not be shy about your desires. Nothing is impossible. It helps you discover what's really important to you.
Write the vision and make it plain on tablets. That he may run who reads it. ~~ Habakkuk 2:2
You can use journaling as a visualization tool to write the vision that's in your heart.
Ways to incorporate journaling into your everyday life so it becomes part of your daily ritual:
- Designate a time to journal. Set a time when you can write to your heart's content.
- Take your journal with you everywhere if it's possible to do so
- Use an app like the 5 Minute Journal or Day One
- Always carry a pen or pencil with you.
- Draw when you can't write
Strategies to make every day journaling fun and beneficial to your life
- Date your journal entry
- Write a journal entry for a future date but write as if it's happening now. Say, 5 years from today's date. Or use a specific milestone such as when you turn 60 years of age. (e.g. Today I turned 60 years old. I run a multi-billion dollar corporation helping my customers (achieve their goals). Use your own desires. Be intentional.
- Review what you have written in the past. Reflect on what has changed and what hasn't.
- Protect your journal if you do not want anyone else to read it.
- Share your journal with your kids or significant other. It may help them. Maybe you can leave it to them as part of your legacy.
- Create a blog so you can journal online
Ways journaling can help you win:
- You’ll get better at detecting patterns in your habits
- Develop a system for tracking goals and objectives such as weight loss,
- Gives you a resource for examining your mindset
- Your writing will improve
- Use as a tool for periodic reflection
Journaling is a great habit to make and keep for many reasons. It's one of the most effective tools we have for self-exploration and reflection, and it can be an incredibly powerful tool for uncovering the source of our challenges.
When you practice journaling regularly it can be therapeutic. It helps you think more clearly, improves your memory, gets you in the habit of writing daily, improves your handwriting, helps you improve your vocabulary, gives clarity to your thoughts and goals, gives you a place to sort through your emotions.
It provides an outlet when you are feeling down or angry or sad, helps you set goals for yourself and achieve them.
Journaling provides an opportunity to reflect on your own thoughts and feelings. By taking time out of your busy day to write down your thoughts, you are able to look at things from a different perspective. This allows you to gain greater clarity around problems or challenges you are facing.
Journaling can also be a powerful tool for self-discovery. When you take the time to reflect on your life experiences, you are able to notice patterns in how you think or feel about certain situations or people.
This awareness can help you uncover personal truths that lead to greater self-acceptance and self-love.
Pursue your goals and work through difficult situations by journaling consistently. You will find the practice helpful and fun. After a while, you will notice that the practice has become a part of your regular ritual.
Do you journal consistently? If so, please share your experience in the comments below. Thanks.
Want to journal more consistently? Download my free 7 Day Journaling Challenge. It contains topics you can use to start your journal writing journey.