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Journaling for achieving goals, personal growth, reflection and planning purposes, or to reduce anxiety.

This article is a summary of an interview with Elizabeth Lucy, a public health specialist and healthy weight expert. She leverages journaling as part of her practice, as well as an essential tool in her daily life. She maintains a life journal, a PHD journal, a work journal, and other journals to reflect and keep […]

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This article is a summary of an interview with Elizabeth Lucy, a public health specialist and healthy weight expert. She leverages journaling as part of her practice, as well as an essential tool in her daily life. She maintains a life journal, a PHD journal, a work journal, and other journals to reflect and keep a record of her thoughts, plans and life updates.

What are the benefits of audio journaling compared to traditional written journaling?

Audio journaling can be a great way to express ourselves. Sometimes we’re full of ideas and thoughts and we might not be by our notebooks or have the time to write things down, but we always have our phones with us. Documenting or fleshing out ideas in the moment provides a truer representation of our thoughts and feelings. It’s also extremely convenient, so we can actually audio journal when we’re on the go or when we go on a walk. This is one of her highlighted videos about audio journaling.

For anyone that hasn’t tried it before, what are some recommendations to get started?

First, you could explore the “artist way” method based on stream of consciousness journaling. In its written form, the goal is to fill out 3 full pages of thoughts, ideas, and anything that comes to mind. Applied to audio journaling, you can base it on how much time you have. For example, if I’m going on a walk and I know I have 15 minutes, I just record anything that comes to mind for that period of time and let my mind wander. You can also use prompts if you prefer to answer some questions in order to start your journaling process. I have a list of prompts on my YouTube channel that you can try. Some examples can be:

  • How are you feeling today?
  • How was your day yesterday?
  • What’s worrying you at the moment?
  • What are you excited about?
  • How do you want your day to be?

By focusing on planning your day, you tap into your positive psychology. If you say out loud some actions and goals, then you’re more likely to achieve them. Gratitude journaling can also help you re-frame your mindset towards more positive thoughts and channel negative feelings. Gratitude journaling is just about starting with one or a few things you’re grateful for in your life (could be anything, small or big).

You can also try journaling for planning purposes, to explore your long or short term goals. Dedicating some time to the strategic direction of your life helps you to make more meaningful decisions in the present that will ultimately bring you closer to your long term goals. 

Journals have been key to ensuring I can focus efficiently and manage all the moving parts of my life like my job as a public health specialist, my PHD, 3 children age five and under, publishing work and creating content for YouTube and everything else; we are busy people and journaling makes us more efficient and focused. When I was a student I even had a “frugal” journal with all the possible ways I could save money to then spend it on big things. Journaling can help us stay on track with our To-Dos and refine our plans for the future. You can try audio journaling about your plans for the week, a few months from now, and 3 years down the line. Even if you think you’ll be repeating yourself, there is tremendous value in voicing your plans often, even if it’s projecting yourself to 3 or even 5 years later. You’ll see your goals will start to evolve and take better shape, and sometimes even change when your priorities shift. 

Many users in our audience have expressed the need to journal for overcoming anxiety. Anxiety has been creeping into our society for decades, but we’ve seen a spike precipitated by Covid-19. Do you have recommendations for that?

Yes. Through the work I do as a public health specialist, we see the anxiety and other negative effects on our mental health caused by the pandemic. Journaling can definitely be helpful to aid the process, but I would like to caveat this by saying that if someone is suffering from severe anxiety very often it is better to seek help from a professional. 

You can start by recognizing how you feel once you start audio journaling. How is your body feeling? What symptoms are you experiencing? What’s on your mind? Then you can start creating a list of every worrying factor or stressor that comes to mind. And one by one, you can start finding potential solutions to it. We tend to get overwhelmed when we try to think about all of our worries simultaneously, so then they appear to be even bigger and their perceived negative effect is magnified. By processing one by one, you feel more in control about every situation. For example, if the fact that some people aren’t wearing masks makes you extra anxious, you can think about how to avoid that like grocery shopping earlier, or carrying extra alcohol with you, or wearing gloves at the store. And then slowly you end up crossing all the thoughts from the worrying category. Here is a video where I break down a process to journal for overcoming anxiety.

Another option is to break down our thoughts into 3 or 4 categories. For example, it could be work, relationships, life, or goals. You don’t have to audio journal about all of them on the same day. You choose one topic and then you break it down into details about what is working well, what you’re worried about, your plans, things you would like to change, etc. Even when everything is great in one aspect of our lives, journaling is extremely helpful to extend the positive impact of that and/or to refine some of our plans ahead. 

About the interviewee:

Elizabeth Lucy is an epidemiologist and public health specialist by profession as well as an academic in health and research. She is also a fellow of the Royal Society of Public Health and coaches individuals on weight loss through a holistic approach. You can find her on YouTube and Instagram, where she shares practical tips, advice and inspiration to help you protect and improve your health. She also has a playlist dedicated to journaling benefits and tips.

🔮For more journaling benefits and practical prompts, visit https://journify.co.

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