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Journaling for the Mind and Soul: Methods and Practices for Personal Writing

By: Natalie

Writing for therapy

Writing has always been a creative and emotional outlet for me, but, getting into the daily practice of sitting down to write was the difficult part. Like many aspects of personal healing, writing is something that I have often pushed to the side for some arbitrary “later.” Prioritizing a new show, a new book, or lunch with girlfriends over spending intentional introspective time with my journal in-hand.

This summer, among the many mindset changes and goals I want to achieve, I have been trying to write in a journal more often. Initially, I aimed to write daily, but sometimes it is less than that- and that is perfectly okay! Habits, good and bad, take time- and writing is no exception! 

Journaling is a powerful tool to learn more about yourself and what makes you feel your best (or your not so best…). Being able to review and re-read thoughts, feelings, plans, and day-to-day life updates is a helpful way to check in on your mental health and well-being. 

I did a little bit of research about the mental and physical health benefits to journaling, and then created a consolidated list to consider before picking up the practice. Check out the many journaling techniques that I found below! Hopefully, one strikes your interests and inspires you to become the best version of you!

Benefits of journaling: 

  1. Reduces stressful or negative emotions 
  2. Improves memory and brain function
  3. Helps to clarify thoughts and feelings
  4. Lifts your mood 
  5. Strengthens immune function (mainly through reduced stress…)

Methods of journaling

There are a wide variety of different methods of journaling out there that are designed to get you started. Consider testing these out to learn what works best for you!

Bullet Journaling

What is it? 

Bullet journals involve short lists and notes that are easy to follow and update. Examples of lists include birthdays, meals, feelings, habits, or a list of your favorite workouts. 

Why try it?

Bullet journaling has been very trendy on social media and it is a great way to get organized. Keeping everything on track greatly improves mental health and can make sure there is one less thing on your plate!

Where can I learn more?

Check out this link to learn more about this method from the original Bullet Journal creator.

Monthly Journaling

What is it?  

Rather than writing daily, monthly journaling relies on a calendar system to keep everything organized. At the start of each month, you put down all of your events and activities to highlight what is going on and when. 

Why try it? 

Monthly journaling is great for those on the go or those who want to try something simple. With a quick glance, you know exactly what you have to do and when. Monthly journaling also opens up a lot of freedom to personalize and edit where needed! 

Where can I learn more?

Click here to check out several different forms of bullet journal spreads that you can incorporate into your own practice!

One-Sentence Journaling

What is it? 

Just as the name implies, one-sentence journaling is writing one sentence to describe your day, thoughts, or feelings. Initially, I kept a One-Sentence a Day journal, and I found it was a great start journaling before I was comfortable with long-form writing. 

Why try it? 

Journaling can seem daunting at first, but by starting with only one-sentence a day, it can make the practice a little bit easier to begin. Writing only one-sentence makes you think about what was really important from each day- and then allows you to reread a condensed version of your day-to-day life. It also simply gets you in the practice of picking up your pen regularly so that you’re on a roll when you feel ready to start writing more.

Where can I learn more?

This is the exact journal I used (UNDER $10!) when I began with One Second a Day journaling.

Visual Journaling

What is it? 

Do you ever keep movie tickets or scraps of beautiful paper? Visual journaling is for those who prefer drawing, gluing, or scribbling over words. Visual journaling involves creating collages of feelings, thoughts, and emotions through picture over written text.

Why try it? 

Sometimes writing about feelings and emotions can be tender or difficult, especially if you’ve never tried it before. By putting those thoughts into visual form, it can start the process of healing. Visual journaling is something that I want to try in the future, as art has been proven to be very therapeutic to the soul. It’s ideal for visual learners and can be a great way to release subconscious emotions and feelings for those that don’t feel comfortable writing everyday.

Where can I learn more?

We love these ideas for sketch noting, but feel free to make collages, paint, or whatever fits your fancy!

Prompt Journaling 

What is it? 

Starting the process of writing can feel difficult or tedious- and sometimes ideas just don’t naturally flow. Using prompts can help jog creative and emotional ideas to get your pen moving. A simple search on the internet brings up a ton of different prompts to try- but I created a short 5 day challenge to help get you started! 

5 Day Journaling Challenge: 

  1. What are you passionate about?
  2. Write about a time you felt strong.
  3. What (or who) are you grateful for in your life at this moment? 
  4. Who is your idol and why? 
  5. What is something that you have always dreamed about doing? 

Why try it? 

I find that prompt journaling allows me to learn more about myself. Oftentimes, the topics or themes are things that I wouldn’t normally write about- and that causes me to think more than simply writing about the menial tasks in your day. It can be hard to sit down and start writing after a busy day, but prompt journaling creates a strong starting point and direction to guide your thoughts.

For the mind, body, and soul

I always feel my best after I have time to process, think, and reflect. As part of that process, journaling has allowed me to get better at understanding my thoughts and feelings. In addition to the numerous health benefits to writing, it also allows me to take more spare moments to spend time alone in self-reflection. 

That being said, I also love to make journaling a social activity! With a good friend, we both write from prompts and then share the highlights of our answers. Journaling does not have to be solitary – consider making it a process to be shared with loved ones to bring your closer. 

The beauty of writing is that it can be anything you want, try a new technique or make your own! So get out there, pick up your favorite pencil or pen and let your thoughts wander!

Your challenge… should you choose to accept it.

Start today and journal for 30 days in a row. Pick out your journal or some computer paper and write anything from one sentence, to designing pages and pages of content.

It’s been proven that it takes 21 days to start a habit, and within 30 days, you’ll be able to figure out where this useful tactic fits seamlessly into your schedule.

You’ve can do it… just start now!

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