We all have a lot more free time. During this time in quarantine, I have focused on self-development. I started journaling as it was something a lot of people always recommended and that it helps you to write your thoughts down on paper. I decided to try it and this is a habit I would love to continue after quarantine ends.
For me, I overthink a lot. The smallest things creep into my head and I end up thinking about it for hours on end. My brain simply will never shut up and I felt that I was constantly worried about something I did, something I said, I can’t believe this person said that to me, etc. It is an annoying trait that I have and hope to one day get rid of
When I started journaling, it was a way for me to clear my head at the end of the day and dump everything that was on my mind onto a piece of paper. Every time I finish journaling for the day, I feel lighter and more at ease going to sleep.
I wanted to write this article to tell you about the type of journaling that I do and how I have made it a habit.
There’s more than one way to journal.
I started journaling with the mindset that I write about my day and my feelings. And that is what I do. Whenever something happens in my day that made me feel a particular way, I write about it. What I find is that once you start writing, then the words come naturally. Initially, I was thinking that I would have some kind of artist block, but that is not what it's about. It is simply writing whatever you think. There are no bad ideas.
And that is the way that I journal every night. However, my girlfriend does it differently.
She also practices journaling regularly, but she writes everything in more of an affirmation style. Her career goal is to become a doctor, so she would write as if she is currently a doctor and talk about everything she is grateful for (getting into Master’s program, having a supportive environment that has helped her achieve that goal) as a form of affirmation. If you believe hard enough, you will achieve your goals and that is how she likes to write. While I like to write in the evening, she likes to write in the morning and sometimes in the evening. For morning journaling, she feels that she is starting her day on a positive note when writing about how grateful she is for what she has.
There is no correct way to journal. Whether you are writing about your feelings or writing about what you want to achieve, you write what you want about that makes you feel better. I think that everyone can benefit from journaling as long as you make it yours and write about what makes you happy and comfortable. Besides, it's not like you are going to share it.
How I’ve made it into a habit
Recently, I read Atomic Habits by James Clear (great book, highly recommend) and using the principles that I learned in there, I have successfully been writing for two weeks without missing a day. Now, I know that I still have some more time to go before I officially call it a habit, but here is what I am doing in order to make it easy for me to write every day.
First, I make sure that it is easily visible. It sits on the side of my desk and every night, I place my wallet right beside it. I can’t miss it.
Second, I force myself to write, even if I am tired beyond belief. One night, I was completely exhausted, did not sleep well, just wanted to crash, but I grabbed my journal, opened it up and wrote three short sentences on how tired I was and closed it. It took me two minutes, but I did it because consistency reinforces the habit.
Third, I write only a page every night. Normally, I am done writing in 10 minutes. I feel like there is this misconception that you have to write about everything that you are feeling and everything that happened during the day, but again, make it yours and, as the book states, make it easy. I am not going to enjoy journaling if I feel that it is this huge time commitment and its a lot of writing. I have to make it easy and enjoyable. Some days, I write more than a page if I want to, but I don’t feel obligated.
Having a journal that I write in every day has helped me put my mind in a calmer state. I don’t feel as stressed or flustered as I used to when I go to bed. This is a mindfulness practice that I recommend for everyone to try. Journal whenever you want to, however much you want to, about anything.