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  • Writer's pictureCandace Medina

Express Yourself - The Journey of Journaling

What comes to mind when you think about journaling? If you are not considering a journaling habit to be a powerful personal and professional tool, then you are not seeing all of the great benefits that keeping a journal can offer you. In this technology-centered era, “going back” to pen and paper might seem a little foreign to people who are so accustomed to expressing themselves in short bursts of words, shorthand/acronyms, and emojis.


What is journaling? Simply put, it is expressive writing - recording your thoughts and feelings on paper. Additionally, it can be a sort of timeline for your personal and professional growth, as well as a written account of you working through issues and understanding what is happening in your life. Your journal can also be a place where you explore new ideas and work the kinks out of burgeoning concepts.



Benefits

In addition to helping you sort through problems and/or ideas, journaling may offer a number of physical and mental benefits. Expressive writing can relieve symptoms of depression and anxiety, particularly in women and young adults. Psychologists recommend journaling as a way to manage stress and reduce anxiety since the act of writing is often used as cognitive-behavioral therapy.


Other findings have potentially linked journaling and expressive writing to a bolstered immune system, which also aids the body in healing from injuries. Journaling also improves both written and oral communication skills and promotes clearer thinking.


Tips

Journaling is obviously beneficial for you in so many areas of your life, but how do you begin? What can you do to ensure consistency in your journaling practice? The best way to begin is to just begin. Consider journaling as a “practice” - an exercise, discipline, and/or training instead of a hobby or a “to-do.” Make journaling part of your daily routine.


Here are a few tips to help you get started:

1️⃣ Create a consistent routine for journaling - pick a time of day that works best for you and stick with it. You can even set the stage - pick your favorite chair, beverage ( Mine is always coffee of course), maybe even a cozy blanket by the fire to make it a sacred time. Being reflective about your thoughts offers choices since it gives clarity to where you are right now.


2️⃣ Start small and build over time. If you can only journal for 5 or 10 minutes a day in the beginning, that's okay. You have to start somewhere! I have had clients who have started journaling on a Post-It note with bullet points. Trust me, it works!


3️⃣ Don't worry if expressive writing doesn't come naturally. It will happen, but your mind may need some time to adjust. Journaling allows you to really see, in black and white, what you focus on. If you like it, great - this will reinforce it. If you don’t like it, great - refocus on what you want. What we focus on grows!!


4️⃣ If you feel stuck, try some writing prompts - make a list of things you are grateful for, write a “thank you” note to someone, or list some of your pet peeves. Gratitude can reset your brain chemistry over time so that you begin to see solutions and options instead of just problems.


5️⃣ Give yourself some grace if you miss a day(s). The point of journaling is to help you manage stress, so beating yourself up for not writing is counterproductive. Just get back to it and write about it. We give grace to others, but rarely to ourselves - start here.

6️⃣ Be honest with yourself. This is your journal, for your eyes only, so there’s no need to hide and make things sound pretty for the sake of you. Just be real.


Discovering who you are and what you really want is an exciting journey! There are seasons and cycles in life and things may shift or change. That’s okay. Be present and allow your choices to be driven by your mind and heart instead of old, default patterns. Enjoy this amazing new practice!


Getting Started/Link

Even though you don't need a fancy/beautiful journal to begin writing, it helps! You are creating an important new practice to help balance your life, so why not invest in a journal that fits your unique personality?




Candace Medina

510-648-7465 ☎️

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