Over the years I have experimented with various journaling techniques and I have found them all to be beneficial in different ways. Some types are great for figuring out my emotions, some for keeping on top of my day to day life, and others for focusing on what I’m grateful for in life.
Here are five types of journaling I use and the benefits of each.
1) Traditional journal
One of my favourite types of journaling is probably the most common type, the type of journal which you turn to in moments of confusion or turmoil to work through some of your emotions and try to figure out solutions to your problems.
I probably only use this journal a few times a month, more if I’m going through any sort of rough patch, and yet find it immensely helpful for figuring things out and off loading emotional baggage onto the page.
I find that there is something so therapeutic about writing things down, especially if it’s things I’m struggling to talk to other people about.
2) Morning pages
Morning pages are a writing exercise that I came across while watching a video on journaling by the YouTube vlogger FemmeHead. The idea is that every morning you should write three handwritten pages in a stream of consciousness style.
After a quick bit of research I learnt that the practice was developed by Julia Cameron in her book The Artist’s Way and was designed as a way to clear out and organise all the clutter inside your head: your worries, dreams, angry rants…anything and everything.
My boyfriend and I have both started doing morning pages every day and have both found that it really helps to clear out your head before you start your day and let go of any lingering thoughts or frustrations.
We’ve only been doing it for about a month but already we’ve both found that it’s had a very positive impact on our days.
During university, I had a little notebook that I kept open on my desk with reminders of the things I had to do that day written down. I found that it was a big relief to get all those to do’s out of my head and onto paper where they were clear and organised rather than jumbled around in my head.
I think for me, one of my favourite things about any style of journaling, is the way it helps you to empty out your head and free up your thinking power. The little reminders journal I kept throughout university definitely helped with that!
As a bonus, there’s something very satisfying about being able to physically cross of an errand you’ve completed and know that you don’t have to worry about it anymore. Sometimes, I’d have chores that would keep cropping up because I hadn’t done them yet so they’d span across a number of pages. When I did finally get round to them, I’d go back through the journal and cross them all out. Big sense of accomplishment!
4) Self-love journal
Another journaling practice I started during university was to write down advice to myself and cheer myself up with loving messages. I thought of this as my self-love journal. I’d write in it as though I were writing to a loved one and would say things like: “I know you’re struggling at the moment, but you’re going to be okay.” It may seem weird writing to yourself from yourself but I found that strangely, it made me feel less alone if I was really struggling with something.
My favourite self-help author, Susan Jeffers, in her book Dare to Connect instructs readers to do something similar, to allow part of your mind to observe what’s going on. If you’re lonely, for instance, watch yourself feeling lonely. This will allow you to realise that it’s only one part of you that’s lonely, not all of you. There’s you feeling lonely, and here’s you watching yourself feeling lonely.
I’ve found that my self-love journal is a great place to turn to not only in moment where I feel like I’m in desperate need of advice (…from myself) but also when I just want to read something nice about myself (…from myself).
5) Gratitude journal
One of my absolute favourite journaling practices is my daily gratitude journal. I was recommended The Five Minute Journal by a friend in university and I fell in love with it straight away. The idea is to write for a few minutes in the morning (3 things you’re grateful for, 3 things that would make the day great, and an affirmation to inspire you) and a few minutes in the evening (3 great things that happened that day, and something that would have made the day better).
It’s such a simple and easy routine to get into but I’ve found that the results have been amazing. It’s not only given me a greater sense of abundance in my life, and a place to record all the lovely moments of my life, but it also shows me which things in life make me happiest. Like going for coffee with friends, sitting outside in the sun, and going for date nights with my boyfriend. I can then go about making sure I have more of those moments in my daily life.
If there’s one journaling technique I’d really recommend to anyone, it would be this one!
– Tiger Lily –