Since I was a little girl, I’ve been a keeper of diaries. It was always more a record of my days rather than a deeper delve into my thoughts and feelings. As I’ve gotten older, it has turned more into that. But I’ve always found it slightly terrifying to write my feelings onto paper, where other people could possibly stumble across it.
However, this year, I’ve found journaling to be an immensely valuable practice. It has helped me to unpack the many things that cause me to be anxious and has led to my being more aware of how these things affects my daily thoughts and wellbeing. I’ve always been quite self-aware which can actually be quite frustrating. Imagine knowing how toxic your thought patterns are, knowing exactly where they stem from and what they are caused by, and still not being able to do anything about it.
Another thing that has kept me from journaling in the past has been the pressure (that I’ve placed on myself of course) to write neatly, fill up journals and actually feeling like I have something interesting enough to write about. But once I gave myself the freedom to let my handwriting be messy and my entries erratic, I ended up doing some of the most useful journaling I’ve ever done in my life.
It gave me a place to physically get out my concerns and things that cause me to be anxious. I could read through my thoughts, and use it to come up with ways to deal with issues I was facing (when I could), and seek help when I couldn’t. It was not foolproof. Sometimes, it just became a place where I brooded and wrote awful, negative stuff down. But other times, it was lovely. Even just writing it all out and seeing everything on one page, in one place was enough to calm myself down a bit.
I let go of the idea that I have to write every day or even every week. When I felt like writing, I did. Sometimes it was two sentences. Other times it was four pages. And then sometimes I just didn’t write at all. I stuck random things in or used highlighters. when I felt like it. And sometimes, I just imagined writing stuff down (when I was too tired or lazy to actually put pen to paper) and that in itself was enough (I promise I’m not nuts – try it).
I made use of resources or prompts at times. Other times, I just did whatever I felt like. But the one common theme for my 2019 journaling practice is that I did what worked for me, at a given time. My journal is not a pretty thing to page through and it’s not meant to be. It’s the one space I allow myself to be messy, inarticulate and inconsistent. And I love it.
I really enjoyed this video and these journaling prompts, so check those out if you want some extra insight. (Some of the prompts felt a bit too intense for me, so I didn’t do them all. Just the ones I felt like doing).
Another thing I found since starting to journal is that my writing has improved a bit, so that’s another plus.
I hope you can find some value in picking up some kind of journaling practice. May 2020 be full of self-improvement.