I thought journalling was for 15 year old school girls
Please indulge me as I step back to 1987.
A 15-year-old teenage girl who wrote in her diary, secrets of love, desire, happiness, sadness, boys, first kisses, frustrations, best days ever and parents ‘who never listen to me!’
I kept a diary until my father found it, opened it to the last entry that was quite clearly all about my dislike for him – oops!!
Anyway, as a distraught 15-year-old, hand on forehead, I swore never to write again… Admittedly I didn’t understand the health benefits back then, only that these pages were where I could be myself.
Fast forward to 2007 when I was at the peak of my depression. I had just had my 2nd child, back at work after 3 months, hadn’t bonded with him at all & on top of that, felt I had no one I could turn to.
I was lonely, so put pen to paper and let it all out.
- My hatred for myself,
- the love of my family,
- lack of confidence in being a mum, wife or even having a career
- how could I possibly go on,
- why doesn’t anyone understand what I am going through.
…… the list goes on.
I kept this diary going for about 6 months and through that time, I came to realise several things:
- Just because I have thoughts, doesn’t mean I need to take action on them
- Getting it out of my head and onto paper made it real and I was able to assess – if this was real or rant
- I was able accept those thoughts, have closure and move on
- Getting my thoughts out onto paper gave my head the space and clarity to innovate and try new things
Now, let’s fast forward again to 2020
OK, I really need to get that sucker out again:
- How can I get new clients
- My freakin’ immune system
- Unlearning, relearning – finding me
- ‘ISO’ – no access to friends and family. Maybe too much access to my immediate family 🙂
I needed somewhere to release my frustrations, my thoughts, and general day to day – so much so, that I have 2 journals:
- My every day for everything journal
- My ‘pissed’ off journal (holy cow that’s got some beauties in there)
During this time, my journaling has helped me:
- navigate my feelings around having a crowded house full of teenagers more interested in TikTok’ing than folding washing
- Find inspiration for my Blogs
- Breakdown the various parts of my life and how they are going – emotionally, physically, spiritually
‘You give yourself permission to write yourself into history. Consider how many women are left out of the history books? Journals give voice to your dreams and aspirations, but are also safe spaces to release negative feelings, hurt and disappointment that could get in the way of dreams being realised’
If you are wondering what and how I journal, here is my process:
For me, I get a $3 A5 lined note book from Big W with a pretty picture on the front.
I like to journal at night as this helps me download from the day and helps me with clarity, and clearing my mind ready for the next day.
‘ It is a form of self expression that can lift and empower people to understand their complex feelings’
I use this time to express my gratitude, because we all know the benefits of gratitude. Some examples include:
- Strenghten our resiliency
- Increases our self esteem
- Increases our energy
- Improves our sleep
- We are kinder to ourselves and others
I list actions, thoughts and I like to use this time to manifest and put out to the universe things I am keen to achieve. I still journal about my hopes, fears, deepest desires (&dreads).
What do I see differently by doing this?
- Boosts my mood,
- Reduces the thoughts and feelings associated with living with depression
- I am more self aware
- I notice patterns and triggers in my behaviour
- It puts the jumbled thoughts in my head into perspective
- And it helps me forgive and forget the little things that might be annoying me – before they become big things.
In order to help me do this:
- I find a private space, with no distractions
- I reflect and review what I have written on that day and previous days
- I write knowing that this is for my eyes only
Here is a structured way to approach journaling, according to ‘Journal Writing from The Center for Journal Therapy.
W – What do you want to write about? What’s going on? How do you feel? What are you thinking about? What do you want? Name it.
R – Review or reflect on it. Close your eyes. Take three deep breaths. Focus. You can start with “I feel…” or “I want…” or “I think…” or “Today….” or “Right now…” or “In this moment…”
I – Investigate your thoughts and feelings. Start writing and keep writing. Follow the pen/keyboard. If you get stuck or run out of juice, close your eyes and re-center yourself. Re-read what you’ve already written and continue writing.
T – Time yourself. Write for 5-15 minutes. Write the start time and the projected end time at the top of the page. If you have an alarm/timer on your PDA or cell phone, set it.
E – Exit smart by re-reading what you’ve written and reflecting on it in a sentence or two: “As I read this, I notice—” or “I’m aware of—” or “I feel—”. Note any action steps to take.
In summary….it’s easy to W.R.I.T.E. !
W hat topic?
T ime yourself
E xit smart
I really enjoy this process, it has become part of who I am, a close friend, someone to share all sorts of thoughts, accepting me with no judgement.
It’s like spring cleaning with my BFF (mind) every day.
Whether you’re keeping a journal or writing as a meditation, it’s the same thing. What’s important is you’re having a relationship with your mind.
So if you are wondering if journaling is only for 15 year old teens, my answer to you is most definitely not.
Now more that ever we are being challenged physically, emotionally and spiritually and I know there are a lot of people with a lot of thoughts – good, bad, ugly, indifferent – who are confused, overwhelmed and maybe a little lost.
So take a chance. Grab a notebook, your phone or laptop and just write.