The Benefits of Daily Journaling
You may have a reaction to the idea of writing in a journal. Maybe you tried it and it didn’t work in the way that you hoped it would. Maybe you re-read your entries and they upset you. Maybe you think you should do it, and feel bad that you haven’t. I suggest trying it again in earnest and noticing what happens. Journaling at other times of the day is not the same as morning practice, though I think that’s a great idea too. To give it a fair chance, let go of old experiences with journaling. Choose a special book that you enjoy writing in, and open yourself to the idea as a completely new experience. Do not re-read your entries if that causes you any discomfort. It’s the process that is the point. Enjoy the sight of your handwriting filling each page. Resist the urge to critique any aspect of it. Again, it’s the practice of doing it that is beneficial.
Set the stage
Choose a book just for journaling. Last year I received a gift of a beautiful hard bound journal with lightly lined pages. The cover featured an embossed picture of a whimsical forest scene. It’s the perfect size and feel for me. I enjoy the weight of it, the sheen of the gold gilded edges, how it lies flat for me to write easily. I loved this one so much that I keep buying replacements with different front art as I complete them. It’s a gift to myself. It feels like a small act of self-love.
Set your alarm and plan to spend at least 20 minutes journaling each day. It’s important to hold space for the time, place, and vibe of your journaling spot. I used to write in my journal when I was upset about something, so I explained to my partner that now it’s a self-care practice and that it’s no longer a problem solver for me. He respects my need for quiet and doesn’t engage in conversation, which I appreciate. Another way I hold the space is that I like to get up earlier than everyone in my house if I have the energy. I love that quiet time when I’m completely alone with my coffee and journal. I chose a comfy spot in the den where I’m sometimes joined by my kitty, so I guess I’m not completely alone. :)
Boundaries, boundaries, boundaries
I talk with my clients a lot about boundaries, both within yourself and with others. This is a time to use them: You may have to be firm with your partner or family about keeping this time to yourself if they push you to give it up, or you may have to get up before their day starts. You may have to make a commitment to yourself to do it and not allow excuses to stop you. It’s okay to make time and space for yourself. If you skip a day, no worries. Just do it the next day. This is a healthy boundary for you.
The benefit of morning journaling
When you put pen to paper right after waking, you have an access point to your unguarded thoughts and your true self. Writing by hand is an active task. You are feeling the pen glide over the paper, adjusting to the slope and feel of the paper. It encourages mindfulness, and that’s exactly the point. It’s a moment for you to check in with YOU. This awareness helps you decide what needs attention that day rather than mindlessly reacting to stuff later on.
Greeting your true self
I’ve learned so much about myself this year since I began this practice. It’s a bit like daily therapy or a visit with my best friend. When I do it, I feel like saying, “Oh, Hello. It’s you. It’s good to see you.”
I hope you’ll try it. Say hello to yourself for me.