I recently had to list my desert island essentials and alongside a naked Idris Elba (obviously), I had a notebook and a pen. You see, journalling has become such a staple in my self-care routine, I can’t imagine not writing in some form every single day.
There is something so therapeutic taking pen to paper and allowing your thoughts to spill out onto the page. But honestly, I know this isn’t the same for everyone. You just have to look online to see how popular the term “how to journal” is, to see not everyone finds it as free flowing as maybe it should be.
Which is why today I wanted to bring you a beginners guide to journalling, taking about the how, the why and the when. And that’s not all. Because at the very end of this post – no, don’t scroll down just yet – I’ve created an eBook full to the brim of 100 journalling prompts to get you started on your writing journey.
Before I jump into explaining exactly how to journal for self-discovery, self-improvement and self-care, I wanted to look at why it’s so important.
Why You Should Keep A Journal
Journalling is one of most powerful (and free) self-awareness tools there is. We have thousands of thoughts making their way around our brain throughout the day, and journalling can manage those thoughts and help ease the feeling of being overwhelmed. There’s a reason I tell my coaching clients to write an idea down as soon as they have it, as it releases it from the brain and sets the intention to the universe.
It also helps you process memories, situations, fears and thoughts in a safe environment. Journalling for me is such a stress reliever – not only because I find the process of writing relaxing, but it’s the ultimate best friend. Whatever I write, there is zero judgement. I can write my deepest fears, process dark thoughts, brag, write what I really want to say to the world, and no one can judge.
There is real privilege in writing the above, I’m very aware. I haven’t had to contend with someone reading my journal, or questioning why I am writing. So, if you feel uncomfortable writing in a physical notebook which could be found, I suggest writing on paper and ripping it up so you have a form of release.
Journalling is one of the best ways to gain clarity, especially when you feel overwhelmed with choice or decisions. In my course, Next Chapter, journalling is a key factor in the growth of each participant, allowing them the space and time to get to the root of why they are feeling stuck.
Another reason why journalling is so powerful is it allows you to track your progress. I found a notebook from 2018 when I had first launched my business and in there I wrote:
“I am so excited to finally launch my business after all these years, but I’m also super scared of not being able to make any money and having to admit I’ve failed. How the hell do you tell people that! If, by the end of this year, I can make £1500 a month doing something I love, I’ll feel like I’ve made it!”
Two years later and here I am, running not one, not two, but three businesses and feeling more content than ever. That is not to say my journal doesn’t have fears in there now. My latest entries have been about breaking down blocks around putting myself at the front of the business and standing proud in who I am. I still work through money blocks that crop up and write about ways I want to uplevel. And I hope in a year’s time when I look back at this entry, I will be able to see how far I’ve come.
Journalling on a daily basis has seen my mental clarity improve tenfold, and I’m now able to dream big because I have a form of escape for those niggling doubts and thoughts that would normal creep in and overtake my blue sky thinking (I know, I know, don’t hold that corporate buzzword against me). It’s just nice to not have so much mental clutter.
I also feel like I’ve discovered a hell of a lot about myself through writing on a regular basis. I’ve discovered I let comparison into my bubble much more than I should, but in other respects, I’ve discovered that I am a badass problem solver and incredibly decisive when it comes to business.
How to Start Journaling
OK, so I’ve preached for long enough why journalling is so important and I can see you’re ready and poised with a new notebook and pen, but how do you start the process of daily writing?
Truthfully? I would start with some journal prompts – wait, don’t scroll down just yet – and make the decision to be as honest and free as you can when answering each question. Is there an area of your life you’d like clarity over? Is there a decision you need to make? Are you struggling with something and you want to get those thoughts out of your head and onto paper. Just write.
Try not to overthink the process. Over the last couple of years, when self-discovery has become a focal point for many, journalling has been built up into this important self-care task that everyone and their mother has seemingly embraced. Which is why it can feel a little intimidating to admit, actually, you don’t have a clue where to start.
Another way to journal is to free-write. This is more formally known as a “steam of consciousness” and it means you write whatever comes into your head for a set amount of time; words, sentences, doodles even. I sometimes do this when I feel anxious and I set the timer for 10 minutes and I free-write. Often words will come up which indicate what might be happening in the subconscious part of my brain and I can start to dive a little deeper. Remember, nothing needs to make sense, don’t second-guess and just let your hand flow.
Finally, one of my favourite ways to journal is to write a gratitude list. See, I told you it didn’t need to be complicated. I write 10 things every night before bed to really solidify and reaffirm all the amazing blessings I have – I’m quite passionate about writing your blessings down as opposed to just thinking them as I feel like there is such power in reading them back.
When is the Best Time to Journal?
If you would like to make journalling a key part of your self-care routine then I suggest carving out time as an non-negotiable. I write every single day now and that is because I saw the real benefits for my mental health and chose not to let something come between me and my notebook.
Mornings are a great time to journal, as (hopefully) you feel rested, your brain hasn’t had time to take in the daily noise surrounding you, and you’re able to steer the direction of your day. Evenings, meanwhile, are a great time to sit and reflect. It’s also likely you have slightly more time to carve out than you do on a morning, which could also include sitting and meditating before to bring even more clarity and relaxation to your writing.
The key thing to remember here is that you can journal whenever you feel aligned to do so, whether that be halfway through the afternoon, or in the middle of the night when you can’t sleep. As long as you have a quiet space to sit and pages empty for you to fill, then it is absolutely the best time to journal.
Now we get to the part you’ve been waiting for I suspect. I’ve put together 100 prompts to help you on your new path to becoming a certified journalling expert. All you need to do is sign up below and you will be sent the eBook within minutes.
Be sure to share this post with anyone you think might find it useful and leave me a comment below telling me whether journalling is something you currently do, or if you want to incorporate it into your daily routine. And don’t forget to join me on Instagram @themanifestationcollective for magic from the universe, daily boosts of motivation and mindset tips and tricks.