As a high school student, I journaled often. Somewhere there’s a box with tons of spiral-bound notebooks filled with a wide array of sagas including young love, breakups, friendship antics, cool parties, and dance team activities. I remember using my journaling time to get it all out there and “have a place” to put my thoughts and ideas. I had not picked up a journal in over a decade until my therapist asked me to start writing a few years ago when I was going through a really difficult time. It was really hard. Part of the great healing that journaling offers is the process of really feeling your experiences, putting words to them, and then letting it all go on the page. (I’m a huge advocate for counseling for all stages of life, and have appreciated many of the “tools” I’ve been given along the way.) One of the best nuggets of advice my counselor offered me was: “You can’t go around it. You have to go through it.” Whatever you’re dealing with, whether difficult or celebratory, journaling really can provide an escape and an avenue to process.
Journaling for Frustration
If you’re struggling in an area of your life, it can really be helpful to jot down all the points of stress. What are really the key areas that you need to face as obstacles and what steps can you take to start alleviating some of the anxiety or stress? This can really be beneficial in helping to figure something out or make a plan for the future. It helps to break things down, organize your thoughts, and really reflect on what is manageable, changeable and easily influenced.
Journaling for Healing
Writing down the thoughts you have about a painful experience or tumultuous relationships can help you just put it somewhere. You don’t ever have to deliver your letter but it can be so completely healing to get it all out and, as cheesy as it may sound, set it free. Sometimes we don’t realize how much we are holding onto in our daily lives, and journaling can help us to move through hurt and begin healing. I remember one particularly difficult letter I once wrote (and never intended to deliver) to someone who hurt me deeply. It was a tedious, awful process, and frankly, I hated it. But in the end, I was able to read it aloud one last time, dispose of it, and start the process of healing. Whatever it is about documenting your emotions, there is something spiritual about taking it out of you and placing it somewhere else.
Journaling for Growth
One of my newest and most favorite methods of journaling now is for gratitude and growth. I’ve read about a few different methods but ultimately the idea is to spend a few minutes each morning thinking about the 3-5 things you are most grateful for. They can be small things – a fresh cup of coffee, a sweet smile from a kiddo, a happy email. Or great big blessings too! Then you write your top 10 biggest goals for your future self. Dream big and imagine the most amazing, happiest, most successful version of yourself. Don’t be limited by today’s circumstances, but rather consider that your 10-years-from-now self can do anything! Lastly, write the one thing you will do today to help you get to your goals. I love how large (and small) this exercise can be. Some of my BIG goals include financial benchmarks for my family, a level of career success that would make my heart sing, and high-quality, loving relationships with my husband and children.
Today’s Gratitude List:
- The health of my family
- Beautiful friendships that surround me with more love and laughter than anyone deserves
- A home that I love and cherish as a resting place and an escape
- This fried pickle and ranch dip that I’m currently snacking on that’s weird and amazing all at the same time (Sam’s Club)
- New Orleans Mom – a place where I can write creatively and read amazing, encouraging, and hysterical posts by other fantastic mamas in our community
What are yours?