Raise your hand if you currently have at least three empty journals or notebooks on your desk that you bought because “really I’m going to get into journaling this time!” Guilty? Don’t worry, we know how difficult filling journals can be so we’ve come up with ten ways to use at least one of them. We don’t want journaling to feel like a chore– it should be rewarding and relaxing so choose what works for you and run with it!
1. Gratitude Lists
Writing a gratitude list can feel awkward at first, especially if you’re used to focusing on the negatives, but trust us, it’s worth it. Gratitude lists are often the most impactful when done as a daily practice, if that feels like too much, try weekly but make sure to do it regularly. When writing your list start with 5 things you feel grateful for at the moment, maybe you had a good night’s sleep or you’re grateful for your work.
If you’re stuck in a negativity rut try starting with the basics, are you grateful to have food in your pantry or warm water in your shower? Start with those things and as your practice grows you’ll find yourself able to more easily start your day feeling thankful!
2. Intention setting
Before you set your intentions it’s important to know that intention setting and making a resolution are two different things. Resolutions are goals or commitments that have deadlines or rules, they’re often rigid and either you keep them or you break them. Intentions are different, they are a personal decision to go into an experience with a certain attitude. Setting an intention is saying that you intend to move through your day in a certain way. For example, you may resolve to do yoga daily or you may set the intention to bring mindfulness into your week.
Like gratitude lists, intention setting is the most beneficial when done regularly because sometimes it can be easy to lose track of an intention you set months ago, or your intentions may have changed and it’s important to slow down and acknowledge that.
3. Dream journal
Whether you think Carl Jung’s dream interpretations are helpful or not, starting a dream journal may help you feel more grounded and will create a healthy morning routine. You’ve probably woken up feeling like you’ve just stepped out of a different reality that slips away before you have time to truly process it. The whisper of your dream may follow you around all day or may frustrate you as you struggle to remember it and ascertain its importance.
Keeping a dream journal puts you into the practice of writing down your dream as soon as you wake up so you can revisit them throughout the day or even weeks later to see what you make of them. You may be able to use your dreams to make sense of your waking life, or they may appear as complete gibberish but either way, dream journaling helps you remember them.
4. Daily journal
The three journaling methods mentioned above all involve a somewhat regular practice with an emphasis on creating a routine around journaling but creating a daily journal is somewhat of a different beast though it can involve any of the above practices. A daily journal can sometimes stand in the place of a great processing session with a friend of a loved one. Writing down the events of the day can allow you to delve into the emotions you felt in the moment but perhaps weren’t able to access.
A daily journal must be done daily but that can mean whatever you want it to mean, some choose to spend a good chunk of time nightly recounting the events of the day and some simply choose to jot down the highlights. This can be a great processing method for you but also works as somewhat of a time capsule, allowing you to look back into the past and get a glimpse of what you were doing, and feeling.
5. Writing prompts
Sometimes you sit down, pen in hand, mood lighting lit and… nothing comes to you. No shame. Creativity and the willingness to write can be difficult especially if you are tired or burnt out. Enter: writing prompts!
A quick google search will provide hundreds of prompt ideas from personal introspections to creating fantastical worlds. Choose a list of 100 writing prompts and vow to write one daily or weekly, or pick and choose one that fits your current mood. You may find that two or three lines into your prompt you suddenly have the desire to write on a different topic, go for it! Your journal is for you, by you and in ten years you’ll love being able to look back on your authentic work.
To-do lists, wish lists, pro and con lists, packing lists, lists on demands, lists of frustration, you name it, your journal wants to see it. If you’re someone who is constantly searching for structure and organizing list journaling may be perfect for you. You can actually do most of the above suggestions in list form or create your own lists! We use lists for things like acts of kindness or even the list that you’re reading right now!
7. Brain Vomit
Ok, it’s not the most appealing name but brain vomit can actually be super healing! Brain vomit is just sitting down and writing whatever comes into your mind with no regard for syntax or structure, it’s just you, the blank ,and whatever comes up. Story fragments can melt in complaints about your day then shift into a list of what you want to accomplish this weekend. It’s a thought free-for-all and can be a great way to warm up for other kinds of writing or to clear your mind before bed.
However you choose to use your journal remember that it is your space to create, reflect, and express yourself! Let us know what method you choose and be sure to follow us on social media @hugswellness for more tips.