One of the best techniques that has helped my healing journey was a journaling practice. I love sharing my story of how it helped change my life, manage my emotions, be more clear about my life and connect with myself on a deeper truth level. Truth is a big word of my story because for a long time I was lying to myself. The lie convinced me I was happy. My journal reflected otherwise.
I remember writing in a diary when I was young, pouring my heart with many “Dear Diary” entries. I still have my first diary. It is a small pink diary with hearts and a design with a lock and key. The diary recorded my feelings about many boys I loved, how annoying my sister was and also my dreams. This practice was forgotten for a very long time, until one day I felt so alone that I needed to write again.
It was six years ago 1st January 2016 to be precise. I was sad, lost, numb and completely disconnected to my true emotions trying to be strong for my children. I had this urge to write for clarity. So I picked up a pen and gave myself permission to be vulnerable and write exactly how I was feeling.
WOW, I was overwhelmed with emotion. I can still feel how vulnerable I was writing truthfully how I was feeling. At times I couldn’t see the pen or pages from the tears of release. This journal entry has been one of the most significant days of my life to step forward into a new happier way of living.
I finally admitted to myself that I wasn’t happy, felt lost and unsupported. I felt safe to express myself truthfully. For a long time I was convincing myself internally I was “fine”, this “was normal” and “I didn’t deserve better”.
My journal writing helped me realise I was in control of my life and had two options. One to continue living unhappily. The other was to find happiness. So I decided to go with option two, piece myself together on a journey of healing and loving myself. Journaling was an amazing tool (not the only one) to find myself and my peace.
Journaling can improve your mental health, overall wellbeing as well as supporting you to reach goals and dreams.
How to journal
Journaling is a personal practice. Everyone has their own style and way of journaling. I share with you tips and hints of what has worked for me. There is no one right method as we are all unique, creative beings. Keep that in mind and use, change, alter or delete to suit your own inner guidance and preferences.
When you are ready to start journaling make yourself a commitment to:
- Be committed; write daily at the same time until it forms as a habit. Allow time and space for no disruptions during this practice.
- Be curious; allow yourself to be curious and open in the writing process without expectations.
- Be honest; the journal is a private non judgemental friend that loves you and doesn’t answer back. Write freely and honestly.
- Be compassionate; be kind and compassionate to yourself no matter what is written.
What you will need is:
- Distraction free time and space; you may like to journal in a local park or nature where you won’t be distracted.
- Journal and pen; you can use any new notebook or you may like to buy a special journal and pens.
I use the automatic writing process when journaling. It can be used to help increase creativity, improve your writing, or connect to your subconscious
I have found it helps connect to yourself from your heart and empty the mind. As a committed practice you can learn about yourself more and make positive changes in your life.
The automatic writing process:
- Set a timer for ten minutes
- Begin writing nonstop of anything that comes into your mind or awareness
- Answer the question “How an I feeling? What am I feeling?”
- Don’t stop moving your pen. If you get stuck write “I don’t know what to write”.
- Keep writing continuously for the full ten minutes. You can write more just make sure it is a minimum of ten minutes.
- Take a moment to give gratitude for whatever was written and the time and space you allowed to journal. Put your journal away in your special place.
After journaling you don’t have to read, analyse or reflect on what was written. Be guided by your own wisdom to trust you know best what to do (if anything) with what you wrote.
When journaling using the automatic writing process I have varying experiences. Sometimes there is releasing emotions, receiving clarity to a situation, answers to questions, recording dreams or goals and new ideas of creation have emerged.
Allow your real authentic writing to emerge. Record your goals or dreams no matter how silly or unrealistic they may seem. Buy beautiful journals, pens or stationery. Your journal is your private creative tool so have fun writing!
Journaling benefits for Mental Health
You may wonder how writing on a piece of paper can help your mental health. Keeping a journal or using it as a meditation practice, allows you to connect to yourself. It is a way to write and explore your emotions, feelings, stress, anxiety, thoughts or fears. Writing allows you to process your life, understand yourself more and shift your mindset. It allows you to be creative and free in your expression
Dedicated journaling practices can:
- Calm and clear a busy mind
- Reduce stress or anxiety
- Clarify thoughts and feelings
- Change negative thought patterns or behaviours
- Give you a greater sense of gratitude
- Reduce symptoms of depression
- Reduce avoidance or procrastination
- Enhance your mood and wellbeing
- Help find answers to problems or challenges
- Release and heal blocked emotions or trauma
Writing allows you to remove mental blocks to understand yourself, others and the world more. It all begins with understanding yourself, being honest with who you are and how you feel.
Journaling is one free tool for a healthier connection to your life. To have a healthy mind, body and soul we need:
- Balance in our working and personal lives
- Nutrition with a balanced healthy diet
- Physical activity and exercise
- Connection with loved ones, nature and friends
- Relaxation and time out
- Sleep for rest and healing
Like any new tool it can take time to make it a committed practice. Today I cannot imagine life without journaling. I am a journal addict and buy journals even when I have a few new ones waiting. This allowed me to feel calmer when my world felt like it was in chaos where I could reveal my private fears, thoughts, dreams and feelings.
I have reconnected back to myself, become more self aware and have a greater love for myself and others. I hope you connect to your own journaling practices as a beautiful way to document the most important thing in your life, you and your story!