Journalling is a great form of self-expression and self-connection that isn’t limited to words. In this blog, counsellor Lisa Barrett discusses different ways journalling may be helpful for you.
You can explore visual, musical or audio journalling. You can draw or record yourself speaking. Any method that allows yourself to physically embody how you are feeling will work. This physical expression allows you to have a release of energy and can even provide clarity. It can reveal inner wisdom and insight in one session, or perhaps a pattern of thoughts and behaviours over time as you re-read past entries.
Journalling is also a wonderful way to practice self-care. Providing time for journalling is providing time to honour yourself and to express what is most present. You are giving yourself a chance to stop, slow down, feel what needs to be felt, and then express it. It can be useful to write down and vent big feelings, such as anger, but can also be helpful in gaining perspective and reframing. You can use journalling to give all of your emotions a voice, not just the ones that are loudest.
There is no “right” way to journal - it’s a personal and creative process unique to each person. However, it can be useful to have an intention when journalling. Try some of the following ideas;
You could write a list of 20 things you are grateful for this week, anything that has happened that really touched you, or write about a piece of art or music that you really appreciate
Freestyle Timed Writing
Set a timer for a few minutes and write quickly whatever comes to your mind with no censorship. Reflect on what you’ve written, and then write down your reactions
Use prompts to start your journal entries, such as “I feel most energised when…”, “I am avoiding…”, “My body tells me…”
Make a list of everything you’d like to say yes to. You can also list the top 3 emotions you’re most familiar with and describe them.
Some other topics to get you started
What does the word ‘safety’ mean for you? What does it look like and feel like? Where do you find it?
If there weren’t any limitations, what would you be experiencing, doing, feeling, saying to yourself or someone else right now?
What is the most important thing to you at this time of year and how does that make you feel?
Need some more reasons to journal?
Benefits from journalling include reduction of symptoms in depression and PTSD to fibromyalgia and IBS. Studies indicate that it can help reduce blood pressure and boost immune function as well as general wellbeing.
Where/how do I start?
Now, tonight, tomorrow or next week – it’s completely up to you. You can buy a notebook that can fit in your bag that you can pull out whenever you feel the urge to write. You could download a journalling app. Make it a special routine or just reach for your notebooks whenever you have a spare moment.
How often should l do it?
Research shows that 20 minutes several times per week is optimal over several months but in reality, any time is better than no time! Even a few minutes per day for several days in a row or writing once per week have been shown to have significant positive impact on health and wellbeing. Just try it once, experiment, maybe talk to your therapist about how it went, and what you liked or didn’t like about it. There’s no right or wrong - just go for it.