How to Journal
Hi there, thank you for joining me on your wellness journey. Today’s video is about how to journal. My name is Kinga Burjan, and I’m a registered psychotherapist with Trafalgar Addiction Treatment Centres.
This video is intended to give you some ideas on how you can add journaling to your life. There’s no specific rule on how you should journal. There are many benefits to journaling. You can check out my video on the benefits of journaling for more details. But simply put, journaling allows space to safely express your feelings, organize your thoughts and reflect on what is happening in your life by having an outlet where you can be honest with yourself.
You can notice patterns and gain insights about yourself that can eventually help you move toward change and toward your personal goals. The following slides give examples of various types of journaling techniques that you could use.
First, I suggest, though, when you start to set a timer, even if it’s only for a few minutes, this will help keep you from worrying about the time so that your mind can focus on journaling.
So let’s start with free expression or free writing. The point of this is to fill up a page regardless of what is written. It might seem a little childish just to write about anything, but the point is, is that’s the point. It’s a platform to write whatever you want, no matter how odd it might be.
Basically, this gives you permission to express your feelings without censoring them. It’s so easy to feel inhibited based on our social surroundings of what we can and cannot think or feel.
So this is a way to give yourself permission to pass that censorship and just write out what you need to write. You might want to start off with an I statement, such as I think I feel or I want.
If writing a whole page seems overwhelming, you can always choose a prompting journal question and write one or two lines to answer it. For example, you could answer the question, what is one thing I learned today, whether it’s big or small or what am I looking forward to tomorrow? You can search for journal prompting questions online or check out our section on journal prompting questions for ideas.
If writing seems daunting or if it’s not your cup of tea, then give yourself the space to doodle, draw, sketch or even write a song or some poetry instead. This will also serve the same purpose, allowing yourself some personal and private expression.
If writing at all seems too big, but you want to start somewhere, a to-do list before bed has actually been shown by research to help you sleep better. So it’s a way to organize your thoughts before bed, which helps decrease rumination and anxious thoughts.
A reflection journal is intended for you to process the events of your day. So after you write, take a moment to review what you wrote and reflect back on why things happen the way they did, any triggers you might have had, any ways that you could improve for tomorrow.
You could also track what you’ve done to move toward your goal, such as writing down what healthy habits that you actually follow through with. This can be a great way to track your progress.
Sometimes you might feel or have feelings and thoughts that we haven’t been able to express or share with others, especially if they’re not in our life anymore, whether they’ve passed away or they moved on or maybe it’s not safe.
So writing a letter to that person with or without sending it to them allows you to express your feelings and organize these thoughts that you weren’t able to share directly with them. This can help in creating closure and aiding and forgiveness.
Another form of journaling is a gratitude journal. Give yourself the intention of focusing on what you appreciate in your life and doing this has many positive benefits, so you can start by writing down three things you’re grateful for, even if it’s something small, such as the sun being out today, and you can allow yourself to go deeper into that feeling of what that object thing, experience gives you.
For example, you might ask yourself how the warmth of the sun feels on your skin and what other feelings are associated with. When your journaling, you can enhance your experience by bringing awareness to what’s coming up in your mind and your body, as well as physical sensations, not just specifically what’s coming up in your mind.
Practicing mindfulness during journaling can give you a greater insight into how your mind, body behaviours and physical responses are connected. It can help you notice if you’re getting caught up in a negative thought cycle and therefore gives you awareness that you’ll need to challenge these thoughts or if you can’t break through the negative thoughts cycle, it’ll prompt you to reach out for help if a situation or thought is increasing your negative emotions or behaviour.
Now, one suggestion to help prevent getting stuck in negative emotions when you journal is set, the intention afterwards to reflect on what you wrote and summarize what you’ve learned or gain from what you wrote.
Such as after reading this, I feel or I notice that. Also if you notice there are any action steps you could take to move forward, then write these down as well. For a list of tips, please check out our video to help you in your journaling practice. Thank you so much for joining me today, and I look forward to seeing you again have a lovely day.