All About the Art of Journaling And 5 Methods to Help You Get Started
Feature Image: Ana Tavares
After a long day, all I want to do is de-stress, and fortunately, there are many ways to do so. Some people like to pamper themselves by going to the spa or out for dinner. While those are both great self-care options, I choose a different method when I’m looking to relax—journaling. I discovered journaling a few years ago and do it whenever I need a mental break. Luckily, there are many benefits of journaling, including preventing memory loss and increasing emotional intelligence. I know that journaling may seem intimidating (I thought so at first, too), but it doesn’t have to be. Here are five methods that will get you hooked on the art of journaling.
Free-writing simply means writing anything that comes to your mind. This can be an idea for a story, a diary entry, a list, goals you may have, or affirmations. I free-write when I get ideas for stories, mostly when I feel inspired by movies or TV shows. When characters have distinct personalities, it’s fun to write stories about them. From watching each character develop, I can get inspiration and learn new things. In addition to writing stories on my favorite characters, I write down the things I learn from some of my favorite Youtubers, specifically tips for getting out of a negative headspace. Some of their tips are simple, but they truly make a difference. Writing these tips down in my free-write journal helps me remain positive in my day-to-day life. All in all, there is a misconception that free-writing has to be perfect. But I’m here to tell you, it doesn't. It can be messy and disorganized—there is no right or wrong way to free-write.
Venting is a natural human process. We all do it as a way to express our emotions each day. Sometimes we ruminate on what we did or didn't say or on what we did or didn't do in any given situation. By venting in a journal, you’re letting out all of your emotions that would otherwise be bottled up inside. Venting in a journal also releases stress and anxiety. When I was younger, I had a hard time controlling my emotions, so I would write down how I felt and would instantly feel better. It can be hard to express how you feel to other people, but it’s a different experience when you allow yourself to be vulnerable and to express how you feel in a journal. Also, venting can help identify your mood and thought patterns, which is often super helpful in terms of self-growth.
Many of us suffer from insomnia, myself included. Insomnia simply means that a person has trouble either falling asleep or staying asleep. By writing in a journal before you go to bed, you’ll recognize your sleeping patterns and habits. Since I started journaling before bed, I’ve discovered that I can’t fall asleep unless I listen to a podcast or read a book beforehand. Doing these things before bed helps me feel more relaxed and worry-free. You may not have a routine like I do, but journaling before bed will help you identify your patterns, which will, in turn, help you determine what you need in order to get a good night’s sleep. Try listening to a calming playlist or reading a book you love in addition to jotting in your journal.
Most people express their gratitude throughout the month of November because of the Thanksgiving holiday, but why not write down all that you're grateful for year-round? Expressing your gratitude is important, but we often forget to do it. The good news is it doesn't have to be hard anymore. Acknowledging all that you’re grateful for is easy once you get going. Try writing one thing that you are grateful for each day in a gratitude-specific journal. Then the next day, try writing two things that you're grateful for and so on and so forth. I used to write three things I was grateful for every night before bed. Though I no longer do this, I really enjoyed it and I will probably take up this practice again in the future. Why did I stop if I enjoyed doing it? Life got in the way, and that’s okay. The important thing is being patient with yourself and expressing your gratitude for life’s many blessings whenever you are able to.
Not all of us are creative, but for those who love being creative, try an art journal. Art can be anything from drawings and paintings to poems and haikus. If you love doing collages, then you can do a collage of your favorite show, movie, or musicals. The point of an art journal is to express yourself in a way that makes you feel comfortable. Having an art journal is a way of letting your creativity flow without judgement coming from other people. Often, people feel vulnerable when they show their art to other people. But with an art journal, your art is for your eyes only. For example, I don’t consider myself a good artist, but I enjoy writing my favorite song lyrics down in my art journal and drawing things that relate to those lyrics, and this is a way to express my love for my favorite songs. With an art journal, the possibilities are endless.
Sure, journaling isn’t for everyone, but you now know of five methods that will help get you started. Try it out and see how it goes. Remember: journaling doesn’t have to be intimidating, and your journal entries don’t have to be perfect. You don’t need to write pages and pages of eloquent words in order for your journal to be considered a journal. The most important thing is that you enjoy yourself. Take your time when journaling—finishing a journal should never be a race. I once struggled with the idea that I had to finish every journal that I started, and this lead to me feeling bad about myself. Now, I journal only when I’m in the mood to do so, whether that be in the morning, afternoon, or at night. As long as I’m enjoying myself, that’s all that matters. And hopefully, you’ll enjoy yourself while journaling, too!
That being said, which method of journaling are you most eager to try?