Writing for myself, or journaling, has always been a part of my life. Friends would tease me and think I was funny or weird, but I needed to journal. I needed to write when I was confused, unhappy, or wondering what I was doing with my life…which was often at various points of my life. These journals were purely for me. They were not for anyone else to read. I just had to unburden myself and figure out my own thoughts. I recently went through all of my old journals. I wanted to do a ritual and burn them all so no one else would read them. Some of them were too difficult to read so I immediately let them go. Some were so funny and interesting I had to hold on to them for a bit more. The whole ritual was an incredible life review and very healing as well as interesting.
It wasn’t until I studied Positive Psychology that I came across James Pennybaker and his research on how journaling helps you heal yourself. His research showed that writing could improve your immune system, lower blood pressure, help with sleep and decrease your heart rate. It is also a way to self-discovery by giving voice to your feelings and trying to navigate your path through life. Of course it does! That is what I was doing all along. I was getting in touch with my feelings, who I was, my values, and what my next step might be. It was always helpful and a wonderful way to unburden myself. Sometimes at night, if I would lay awake thinking too much, I would get up and journal. This way I spilled all my thoughts on to the paper, shelved it, and could go to sleep!
So where does one begin. James Pennybaker suggests:
- Write for a minimum of twenty minutes a day.
- Write about the same event on all four days or write about different events each day.
- Write continuously without worrying about grammar, spelling or editing.
- Write only for yourself. Be completely open with yourself to get the full benefit of expressive writing.
You also can refer to the book The Artists Way by Julia Cameron which is a guide to open up your creative expression. The part that I used from her book was how you should wake up every morning and write 3 pages, non-stop every day! This is not as easy as it sounds but wonderful in the end. It was a great way to truly get to the center of yourself and see what you are truly thinking about. I didn’t do it for long but enjoyed it when I did. I often think of trying this again.
So go out and find a beautiful journal that you relate to. This is a very important step. My journals have to feel a certain way, be a certain size, open up just right, and give me enough room to really write. Than find a pen that you love. Mine have to flow just so and go across the page effortlessly. Next, find a time when no one will disturb you – perhaps early morning before everyone is awake, or at night when the house is quiet. Than just write. Write whatever comes to mind. Ask yourself questions, see if perhaps you can reframe a situation, or write a new life story. Remember this is just for you. If you need some journal prompts get in touch I will send you some. Have fun and let me know how journaling has worked for you in the past or how you will try it now!