I love journaling. But not in the way you might think.
I don’t have a pretty notebook with an inspirational quote on the front, or a set of gel pens in 20 colors to document my experience in an aesthetically pleasing way.
My journaling is a lot like the words & feelings that go onto them: messy and all over the damn place.
And despite the disorganization of it all, I find it so effective. My clients find it effective, too. They journal about their anxiety in between our counseling sessions. They journal about their frustration with their partner in between our couples counseling sessions. They journal after our online counseling sessions, because hey – they’re already on their computer anyway.
So here are three steps to start journaling your feelings.
Think about where you want to do your journaling. Redefine how you’re interpreting the world “journal.” When I say journal, I’m not referring to the pretty book I told you I don’t have. I’m taking about the act of getting your thoughts out of your head and onto paper, typed on your computer, or keyed into your phone.
Places I’ve journaled include:
in the closest notebook I find after I realize I want to write something out
in the notes on my phone
on a piece of computer paper
in a text message to myself
in a fancy notebook (i like the idea of them, i just default to convenience)
The most important part of deciding where you will journal is picking a strategy that will ensure you actually do it. Maybe you’re a messy journal like me, or maybe you do everything on your computer so why not this, too? Try a few different ways, and see what works best for you.
What do I journal about? The short answer to this is that you can journal about ANYTHING. But if you need some help, start by journaling about things that make you feel stuck. Emotions you struggle to work through, or accept. Relationships that frustrate you. Things that spark anxiety in you.
Things I’ve journaled about:
a really good week
a fight I had with my husband
an award I received
confusion over the future
ideas I have
like, a million other random things.
seriously, you can journal about anything.
But, what how do I start writing? You can start by trying stream of consciousness writing. As things pop into your head, put them on to paper. Don’t worry about language, or your handwriting, or grammar. Just write, write, write until all the words in your head are on the paper.
Notice how you’re feeling.
Do you feel different than before you wrote your little heart out?
Read what you wrote.
How do you feel now?
Write more, if more comes to you.
And when you feel like you’ve gotten it all out, take a deep breathe and put the journal away. …until you need it again.