Several studies have already confirmed the cognitive and stress-relieving benefits of journaling. Writing things down helps boost memory and I am a firm believer that writing something down is remembering it twice. Journaling or writing thoughts down also brings you into a state of mindfulness, you’d be surprised how those few minutes of journaling actively engages your subconscious, and at the same time, relieves you of anxiety by allowing you to focus on what matters most at that particular moment.
But while many understand the merits of journaling, some may find a blank page intimidating.
What should I write down?
Surprisingly, there are a lot of things that you can write down. Your thoughts. Your goals. Your plans. Even just the mundane things that occupied your day and your mind. Nothing is unimportant, not in your journal. It is a personal dossier, your place of solitude, your confidant and your dream catcher after all, and it is important because it is about you.
I journal for so many reasons and these reasons determine what I write. It is also these reasons that helped me develop MYnd Map MY Journal. I wanted to track all aspects of my life and be able to reflect on it and find balance, which allowed me to be more mindful of the important things, the things that truly matter to me. There is so much noise in my daily grind that it’s easy to get distracted, feel lost and helpless. I find that writing things down minimises these distractions. It helps me focus and acts as my compass.
So, how do you start a journal? Here are my 5 tips on how to start and maintain a journal, and hopefully, like me, you’ll find that it is a beautiful and fruitful endeavor.
1. Write down your goals.
One of the reasons why I journal is to make myself accountable for my own goals. Somebody once said that the difference between a dream and a goal is a plan. And the first step, at least for me, to set this in motion is to write it down and identify the steps I need to do to achieve my goals.
2. Write down your thoughts.
Julie Cameron has a beautiful tool called Morning Pages “three pages of longhand, stream of consciousness writing, done first thing in the morning.” If you don’t meditate, this is one of the closest things you can do to help you achieve mindfulness in the morning, before the chaotic events of the day occupy you.
If three pages is too much for you to begin with, you can start with a sentence or two and keep writing the same sentences over and over again until you fill the 3 pages, it can be a motivational mantra, a quote from a book that you a currently reading, or a narration of your first thought of the day. After a while you'll be surprised the thoughts you'll unlock and that will end up on your morning pages.
3. Write down what you are grateful for.
Oprah is one of the most famous advocates of the gratitude journal. Her ritual is to write down five things she is grateful for at the end of the day. This is a good way to start if you’re not a morning person, or you are the kind of person who relishes on pondering about things at the end of the day.
There are scientific studies that confirm the benefits of doodling. Yes, it is a form of meditation. If you don’t know what to write, why not try drawing? Or even coloring your blank page!
5. Get Inspiration or participate in an Instagram writing challenge.
If all else fails you can be inspired by other journal users on Instagram, or go to your Instagram account and participate in a writing challenge. The following are the more popular ones: