THE JOURNEY to developing good mental health isn’t a quick and easy one. There isn’t one package that fits all as there are so many variables to take into consideration. The important thing is to find something that you enjoy and will return to, giving consistency that allows you to develop your ideas and creativity. In a world of computer science, it’s good to go back to pen and paper and doing something more cathartic and old fashioned.
One of the ideas that I started several years ago was journaling, specifically goal orientated to support running and the style for it was bullet point (BUJO). It allows me to break things down, be honest with myself about how I feel and empty my mind before going to bed making the transition to sleep easier.
Four good reasons to journal
journaling hands you control over your thoughts and allows you to carve out time just for you.
journaling gives you a simple yet effective way to track your moods and focus on their meanings.
journaling enables you to make positive lifestyle choices to improve your overall physical health.
journaling provides you with a safe space to offload your emotions without fear of being judged.
Write what’s in your head and in your heart as journaling can break you out of negative thought cycles and repetitive patterns known as ruminations which can, when left unchecked, make anxiety and depression worse. At the same time, it can put a much-needed perspective on things.
Types of journals
There are many different ways to start a journal, but what interests you? Do you want to do something organised or more creative?
Here are some ideas …
This is a mixture of mindfulness and creativity that’s full of notes, to-do lists, reminders, and doodles.
Take time each day to list several things that you’re grateful for that happened that day or the day before.
Creativity can be anything: write or draw, scrapbook or muse.
Keep track of your goals, track your progress, and write inspirational notes to yourself to stay motivated.
Use images from magazines or photos and write thoughts about why they moved you.
Draw sketches to describe how you feel or what you’re experiencing.
Record what you experience when you’re out in nature. Describe what you see, feel, hear, and touch.
- Stream of consciousness
Write down your thoughts as they come to you.
Journaling is a habit to develop and there is no wrong way to do it. If you’re interested in starting, here’s how to get into it so you can make the most of the emotional exercise.
For the most success, find a time where you can integrate journaling into your existing routine, which will help you remember and reserve space for it. The best times are either the beginning or the end of the day.
Start with something lightIf the thought of seeing your inner self on paper is a step too far, start by writing out your day. You woke up at 7 a.m., made your bed, showered, ate breakfast. Then, add what you were feeling or experiencing during those things. For instance, you forgot to set your alarm so you missed your workout, and you started the day more stressed out.
Just writing down what’s on tomorrow’s agenda can have marked effects, giving focus on the day and ensuring all tasks are completed. If you’re still struggling, set a timer for three or five minutes, write, and stop when it goes off.
Find a journal you love
You have two choices: write on paper or on the computer/smartphone. I would recommend writing on paper …
- So many of us are stuck in front the computer all day, so journaling on paper can offer a welcome screen break
- It’s also more personal and adaptable to you
- Slow repetitive hand motions when writing can be calming
internalise messages to you that are important enough to take the time to write