I'm sure so many of you have heard of the practice of journaling, but how many of you know how to practice it, or the ways in which it could bring you a sense of ease when faced with adversity?
I have been journaling since I was about 9 years old and one of the things I have grown to love and value most about my journaling practice is that it allows me to cultivate a sense of gratitude, optimism and hope, particularly in times of uncertainty or hardship. Taking the time each day to write down my thoughts, feelings, experiences, plans for the future, ideas, reflections and the things I am most grateful for have had such a significant impact on my mindset, my confidence, my mental health and my general outlook on life. Whilst my journaling style has changed over the years to suit my needs, one thing has remained constant and that is the sense of calm, relief and peace I feel each time I close my journal after writing an entry.
Writing in a journal is a way of finding perspective, grounding in the here and now and staying aware of all the beauty, possibilities and opportunities in our everyday lives. It has been proven that keeping up a regular journaling practice can reduce stress, improve immune function, keep your memory sharp, boost your mood and strengthen emotional functions, amongst many more benefits.
Whilst there are numerous ways one could practice journaling, there are two specific techniques I find extremely effective when faced with uncertainty. The first, although popular, is hugely underestimated! Practicing gratitude is such a simple, but incredibly effective tool that trains our brains to bring our focus back to that which is good in our lives.
At times like these, when we are exposed to excessive amounts of negativity through the media and other outlets, and when our realities are in a state of constant change, it becomes far too easy to feel helpless, hopeless and fearful. By practicing gratitude regularly, we begin to rewire our brain in a way that allows us to think and feel more positively, which in turn has a positive effect on both our mental and physical health.
Beginning your own gratitude practice is easy, the key is to be consistent with it. Choose a notebook or a journal (doesn’t have to be anything fancy) and commit to spending a few minutes each morning, before you begin your day, and write down just 5 things you are grateful for and why. You might find yourself coming up with the simpler things to begin with, for example, a roof over your head and the food on your table, but as your practice grows, push yourself to look within and go even deeper.
The second journaling technique I enjoy and that has helped me dig deep is the use of journal prompts to guide my writing practice. Below I have provided a list of prompts that are specifically designed to help you improve your mindset and embrace change and uncertainty during this period of self-isolation.
Over the next 30 days you can follow along and complete one journal prompt a day to help you build your own journaling practice. Share your thoughts, learnings and insights with me in the comments below and feel free to reach out with any questions you have.
- I am going to make today great by…
- Today, I choose to let go of the things I can’t control, including…
- How could I consciously deal with uncertainty in healthier ways?
- What am I grateful for?
- What are my goals? What is getting in the way? What would one step forward look like?
- In what ways do I take care of myself? Where can I improve?
- What do I most look forward to each day?
- In what ways can I create more structure in my life to feel more settled in this uncertain time?
- What are the things that are most important to me in life?
- How do the people in my life help me feel more secure and grounded in uncertain times?
- I recognise that I don’t need to have all the answers right now. Today, I give myself permission not to know….
- If my body could talk, it would say…
- What would I do right away if I wasn’t afraid of making mistakes?
-What do I love most about myself and why?
- I know I’m strong enough to handle whatever comes at me, because I’ve survived a lot, including…
- I feel most energised when…
- In what ways can I embrace uncertainty?
- What are my strengths? How do I use them in my life?
- One topic I want to learn about to help me live a more fulfilling life is…
- What is my biggest challenge right now? What will I do about it?
- What do I love most about life?
- Instead of worrying about making the ‘wrong’ choices, I trust that no matter what I choose….
- I feel happiest in my skin when…
- What is currently my biggest worry? Imagine it wasn’t my worry, but that of my best friend. What advice would I give him/her?
- Today I choose to forgive myself for…..
- Which situations cause the most stress and tension in my everyday life? What can I do - or stop doing - to approach them in a calmer way?
- How can I better support the people that mean the most to me?
- Based on my daily routines and actions, where do I see myself in 5 years? What kind of person will I be if I keep doing what I’m doing right now?
- What have I achieved that I am really proud of?
- If I had the chance to call the 10 year younger me and speak fo 30 seconds, what would I say?