For many people, journaling can appear to be a waste of time, a bit wanky or even cheesy. The truth is, when you only undertake journaling sporadically, its power can certainly be underestimated.
There are endless great minds and hugely successful people who advocate for including journaling as a daily practice: Albert Einstein, Maya Angelou, Andy Warhol and Tim Ferris, to name a few.
This year I have dedicated myself to the art of journaling and have written in my Samantha Leith embossed notebooks almost every single day. Having completed this practice for a year, I can safely say that journaling makes a massive difference. It’s allowed me to work through my feelings when I’ve had a crappy day, to focus on my goals and to reaffirm the words I want to live by.
HANDWRITING VERSUS APPS
It is proven that your ideas and thoughts seep in more when you write them down. Writing something by hand increases your focus, so that you think more intensely about what you’re writing. It stimulates more areas of your brain, including boosting long-term memory and having other important cognitive effects.
Typing simply doesn’t have the same impact – your brain just doesn’t have to work so hard, so you have less focus and won’t remember the things that you type in the way you would had you hand written them. So even though there’s an app for everything, journaling by hand is the best way to go in my opinion.
Consider also the control and emotion offered with a blank page. You have the freedom to put down whatever you’re feeling that day, and in whatever way you wish. Some days you may feel more creative and want to draw, other days you may want the tactile feeling of underlining a word emphatically. For many people, handwriting allows for a more cathartic journaling experience.
WHERE DO I START?
There are many ways to journal and it’s intensely personal what you write. Below I have detailed the major categories I cover every single day. Some days, these will be dot points, some days long form with more information, but I always cover off the same major themes daily. You can borrow as much or as little from the below, but work out a list of things you want to cover every day.
The Day Before
I always journal in the morning and so I start with the day before. Just a few lines usually, but it can be more depending on the day just gone. If you choose to journal at night, then you can write about the day you’ve just had.
If I’m feeling really emotional or angry about something, then it’s cathartic to express myself on paper. There are things that we as humans simply can’t express in healthy ways if we try to do it physically or verbally, so it can be a blessing to be able to get it out on paper.
If something incredible has happened, it’s a gift you can give to yourself to get to relive that event. Writing it down also means you can revisit it in the future as a pick me up, for inspiration, or just to enjoy the memory once more.
I always write few positive affirmations. ‘I got this’, ‘I’m brave’, ‘I’m happy’. I write these every single day. You may choose different affirmations or not use them at all, but affirmations are an incredible ways to increase your confidence and help you overcome negative or self-sabotaging thoughts.
Five Things I’m Grateful For
The simple act of gratitude proved to improve happiness, positivity and reduce stress, so this is a no-brainer to include as a part of your daily journaling.
It doesn’t always have to be huge life events that you’re grateful for. In fact, acknowledging the small, daily events can be just as helpful as being grateful for something huge like good health. Some days I may write that I’m grateful that the day was sunny and my washing dried or that I slept really well the night before.
Finding gratitude and appreciating the little things in life focuses your attention on those events you may otherwise take for granted. This will ultimately help to create a mental balance and to avoid focusing on the negative aspects of life, leading to a happier and more stress-free existence.
These are those big, hairy, almost scary dreams that you have for yourself. You can write them in list or dot point form if you’re running short on time or if you just want to jot down where you are in your journey. If however, you want to refocus and really emphasize that dream, write down how you’ll feel when you get there, how you’re feeling about it now.
Your current goals are different to those big scary, hairy dreams. They’re what you’re working on right now, planning to get done in the next 6/12/18 months.
Always write these goals in the affirmative, ‘I am’ or ‘I have’ so it registers in your brain that it’s done and dusted, it’s completed. Again, consider how handwriting activates that cognitive function, how it stores your words in long term-memory.
Writing your goals in the affirmative every single day will ensure that your focus and attention is always on those objectives; will increase your confidence and ensure your emotions are geared positively towards them.
This is a statement that is just for you. It might be your vision or your purpose, but it’s something heartfelt and it’s not for anyone else. I write the same thing every day and it’s only 11 words, but it’s something I want to see and be reminded of every day.
WHEN TO JOURNAL?
As I mentioned earlier, I always journal first thing in the morning. I see it as a way to leave the day before behind me and to set my intention for the day ahead. By journaling in the morning, I also ensure I go into my day with gratitude and with my goals in mind, meaning my objectives and clearer and everything that I do that day will be with my goals in mind.
This may not work for you and there are many positives to journaling at other times of the day. Journaling at night means you can clear the day just gone and set your intentions for the next day. You’ll sleep well having reset yourself, meaning you’ll wake refreshed and rejuvenated.
Regardless of the time that you do it, the most important thing is that you don’t wait to start. Find yourself a piece or paper or a blank notebook and start journaling today.