Shortly after moving this summer, I stopped journaling.
My journal, which I started at the beginning of 2021, had been mostly written in almost every day. Some days I had more thoughts than others, hearing various news stories that stuck to me and made me deep dive to unlock all sorts of thoughts in my head. Other days I wrote a little less. Sometimes a little, sometimes a lot, there was usually something to write about and muse on.
After moving, I imagined I would have more things to say, to write down, to remember. This wasn’t the case. Several months of pause later, approaching my journal almost feels as though it comes from a place of obligation. It’s a bit like responding to an email a week or two late. You know you’re running behind. And you missed the invisible, but not exactly set in stone, deadline that everyone else seems to acknowledge a bit better.
Oops. Does that mean my next journal entry should start off as an apology tour for all the days I missed before?
What happens now? What should I, or anyone else, do to get back to journaling after a pause?
Creating a Journaling Routine
Megan Rhoads, PsyD is a psychotherapist who has journaled regularly since childhood. Rhoads recalls going through a similar experience where she hit pause on journaling for several months.
The great news is that getting back into the act of journaling can be done. Rhoads was able to start again simply by creating a simple routine where she set a time of day and a quiet place to write. She also recommends giving yourself permission to write about anything — really, anything that comes to mind.
Sticking to the Routine
Once you fall back into a familiar journaling habit again, you can keep the routine by following these tips.
1. Keep a Daily Journal.
Rhoads journals early in the morning. She uses this time to write about the prior day and to write down what is going on in her mind and heart.
“This helps me understand how I feel about things and why,” Rhoads says.
2. Start a Separate Journal.
Are you working on anything deep or intensive right now? Place these thoughts and this work in a separate, designated journal.
Rhoads, as an example, is currently using her separate journal to chronicle the 10 steps of forgiveness, a process she does with her patients.
3. Write About Daily Gratitude.
“Give yourself space in your journaling routine to write about what you are grateful for,” Rhoads adds.
Daily gratitude is often one of the best places to start if you are unsure where to begin in re-entering journaling after a pause. What are some of the bigger things you are grateful for? How about the smaller blessings that might seem ordinary, but are quite extraordinary?
Jot down each bit of gratitude, like a comforting call with your mom, a delicious sandwich for lunch, or the sweater that kept you warm on a chilly morning.
Journaling about these aspects of gratitude, and reflecting upon the feelings associated with them, does more good for you inside and outside than you may realize.
“Research shows that if we can actually connect to the emotions associated with gratitude every day, we will increase our well-being,” Rhoads says.