Finding Balance in Journaling
Slowing down and finding balancing are goals for many of us, and there’s no wrong way to go about it, or a set timeline to start or end. Granted, our usually fast-paced world has recently been forced to slow down to fight the Coronavirus Pandemic, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that everyone had the opportunity, ability, or capacity to take advantage of the slow down. So, how can we start helping ourselves rebalance after everything we’ve experienced?
One possible starting point is journaling. Journaling can take a variety of forms: prompts, stream of consciousness, lists, a dream journal, typing, writing, and voice-to-text, just to name a few. No matter how we choose to journal, however, the ability to put our internal thoughts somewhere that we can later return to holds many benefits for us.
The Benefits of Journaling
So, what are the benefits of journaling?
- We’re able to release what would otherwise remain bottled up. When we keep our feelings and thoughts in, the pressure builds and eventually there will be an explosion. Journaling gives us a non-reactive space to release some of that pressure by getting those thoughts and feelings out of our heads.
- We get a better understanding of our core values. Sometimes it is hard to discern between fleeting reactions that might be based on outside factors like lack of sleep, stress, hunger, etc., and our deeply held values and beliefs. Journaling provides the opportunity to evaluate our thoughts and feelings in a more neutral space. This can help us assess whether we consider something a core value or if we said or thought something in response to a fiery emotion that burned hot and fast and has since cooled.
- We’re better able to remember things. Not only will our memory recall improve, but journaling can give us a better emotional recall and reflex. Recording events, and how they impacted us emotionally can equip us to handle future situations differently, in ways that are more beneficial to us.
- We give ourselves some processing time. Turning internal thoughts into external language helps us think more deeply about them. The words we choose, the order in which we record things, the way we structure the page, etc. are all factors that can help us digest what we’re writing about.
- We now have a ritual to depend on. No matter how often or consistently we journal, the act of journaling can become a ritual if we do it more than once. Rituals can provide a sense of structure and stability in our lives; when everything else feels chaotic and off-kilter, we know that we can always turn to our journals.
- We get better at articulating emotion. It is hard to put words to emotions. As we journal, we become more familiar with our actual feelings, and how to say them because we are providing ourselves with a place to practice.
- We become more cognizant of our self-talk. We are often our own harshest critics, and negative self-talk can have detrimental effects on our mental health. As we journal, we may come face to face with the language we use to talk to and about ourselves. Ideally, we can then work to mold our self-talk into a generative, realistic, and compassionate tone.
30 Journal Prompts to Get You Started
Here are some journal prompts to start with.
- What brings me pleasure?
- When is it okay to be selfish?
- What made me pause today?
- How well did I listen to myself today?
- What can I hear right now?
- When was the last time I laughed?
- How do I like to express love for others?
- How do I like others to express their love for me?
- What’s something I feel hopeful about?
- Who do I admire?
- Who admires me?
- What does “quiet” feel like?
- Where do I feel calm?
- Where do I feel excited?
- What’s something I liked about yesterday?
- Do I like how I talk to myself?
- What’s something I wish I had more of?
- When was the last time I cried?
- What is my favorite way to play?
- Why did I decide to write today?
- What is something I would like to let go of?
- When do I feel most like a child?
- What is the hardest thing about saying no?
- Who do I miss right now?
- What is my superpower?
- Write an ode to the most underrated flavor.
- How would I describe loneliness to someone who has never heard of it?
- What is my most controversial opinion?
- When do I feel most powerful?
- What makes a good gift?
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