Updated March 23, 2021
Have you considered journaling for self care, or as a form of self care? Because we really ought. When I was ten years old, I started keeping a diary. It was something a lot of ten year olds did. It was a brown pleather bound book with Diary etched in gold lettering on the front, and each page was dated. And I wrote it in every day for the year. And so began my journey into journaling–and into the only form of self care I practiced for years.
I journaled practically every day for eighteen years straight. My rages, my joys, my inner turmoil, worries, fears and hopes are all documented in various pretty notebooks, some lovelier than others, some cute, some even homemade. I found a certain sense of self in journaling, and it certainly became a form of catharsis. I even wrote a very drunk entry once. Journaling for self care kept me sane when I lived in a very isolated world that I never felt I exactly fit into.
And then I simply stopped journaling and really have not been able to get back into since. It’s been ten years since I really kept a consistent journal. Why did I stop? I went through a bad break up and the idea of writing anything about it was just too painful. And then, once I was over that pain, I just never got my journaling groove back. I hated writing about how stressful my life was, and all my thoughts seemed to centre around the stressors. I felt like I was complaining. I lamented that I had nothing happy or exciting to record. Maybe because at that time I was starting to spiral into my anxiety. Of course, I didn’t realize I was on a slippery slope at that time. I just was tired, restless, too busy, too lazy to write in my journal.
I regret that I don’t journal as I once did, as it’s still not a form of self care I practice though I know I should. It was a great form of self care. And thinking back now, the first thing I would do when I was a tween or teen and I was upset was dash upstairs to write in my journal. And I always felt better afterwards.
How does Journaling Help?
In my experience, journaling helps to reduce stress. You can freely express your thoughts, and while you do this you can let go of some big emotions like anger. So in this way, you are journaling for self care. While you write away, you might realize that how to solve the problem or trigger you are facing. You can learn to identify things that are triggers as well. Why? Well, science shows that when you are journalling both sides of your brain (the right side being rational and analytical and the left side being creative and emotional) are engaged. The way I understand it, because both sides of the brain are engaged you are guided to express emotions you otherwise keep deep down and process those feelings resulting in a catharsis. End result? Stress is reduced. So journaling for self care is actually smart, not just something an angsty teen does to privately whine.
Read more about journaling and mental health.
Obviously then, I really need to get back into journaling! And I am going to! I have lovely journals already at home, I just need to get back into the habit. If journaling is new to you, I want you to know there are many ways to journal, and no right way. Some people do bullets, some like me, just let their thoughts flow over the page, some might like affirmation journaling, and some might combine styles. The best thing to do is find a style you are comfortable with, and be consistent in writing in your journal. To help you out with this, I’ve created a free journal template so that you can start right away! Click on the image to become a subscriber and access not only this template, but many more!
I truly believe that journaling is a wonderful way to practice self care. If you are not journalling, do give it a try. Make a point of setting time aside for writing in your journal every day for about twenty one days (how long it takes for habit to form) or until it becomes habit. When I was journalling every day, I didn’t need to find the time, it simply was part of something I did every day, like brushing my teeth.
Keep It Simple
I have noticed a lot of different journaling styles being used by those who journal. There are gratitude journals, bullet journals, some people college as a way of journalling, others respond to prompts, or track moods or triggers and reflect on how they reacted. Personally, a lot of this is overwhelming for me. I prefer to keep it simple, and just write. I recommend that whatever you chose to journal, to keep it simple. The purpose of journaling is to reduce stress, and I doubt getting caught up in the process will help with reducing stress, so keep that in mind. Remember, this is about self expression and exploring your emotions cognitively. This is about journaling for self care purposes.
Interested in the idea of exploring journaling as a hobby, perhaps in keeping a food journal, or bucket list journal? This is where you can get creative in my opinion and detail oriented. Track what you eat, favourite recipes, photos of new dishes you’ve made, or restaurants where you have had an amazing meal. Use colour, lists, include dates, and journal it your way. Have fun! This is great self care too, but it’s entirely different I think from journaling to explore yourself and achieve a catharsis. I’m not a scientific expert on the subject so this is just my own opinion, but it might be worth your giving thought to when deciding to begin journaling.
So, if you have ever wanted a really pretty notebook and just didn’t know what to do with it, or thought it cost too much, you now have a purpose for that lovely book, and can think of it as an investment in yourself. And you are certainly worth the investment!
Do you journal? Share your thoughts in the comments section about journaling and how it helps you.