How To Start Journaling

A few weeks ago I was having a conversation with a friend and when I mentioned journaling she asked what I did when I said I journaled. I thought maybe there were others reading who might like to know more about journaling so I have written a little about how I journal and how it helps me.

When I was a teenager, I used to have a lockable diary that I would write in. Often, I would write important events in it, but I would also write about how I was feeling and what was going on in my life. I found this useful particularly when I was sad or angry. A place to get my emotions out.

As an adult, I only journaled occasionally, generally when I was going through a difficult time or record events such as when I was going through IVF or when my Dad passed away.

A few years ago I began to journal more frequently. I have found it to be beneficial for various reasons.

I have found journaling can be beneficial in the following ways:

  • As an emotional release, particularly when I am feeling frustrated, upset or angry.
  • An opportunity to clarify my thoughts. Journaling can be a very useful tool to sort through the thoughts, emotions and ideas circling around in my head.
  • It provides an opportunity to reflect on my experiences and thoughts.
  • After writing things out I gain a different perspective or insight in to what is going on for me.
  • I can keep a written record of my goals, ideas, and experiences.
  • It can be useful when my mind feels overloaded. I often use it as a ‘thought download’ – writing down everything that is going on in my head. Sometimes it helps just to get it out of my head and on to paper.
  • Journaling can help me come up with answers that I need.
  • I learn more about myself.

 

All you need to start journaling is a notebook and a pen. I personally like a hard-backed spiral bound notebook, or a hard-backed journal. I like a hard back because I usually write when I am in bed on lying on the couch and find having a hard back easier. I also like a good pen that flows well because once I get going I can write quite fast and hate my pen feeling like it can’t keep up with me!

I like to journal when it is quite so that I can just tune in to my thoughts and write without distraction.

When I started journaling, and even some days now, it can feel like I don’t know what to write. It can feel forced. Honestly, I have found the best thing to do is just to start writing and keep going. After a little while I find that my thoughts start flowing on to the page. Sometimes I just start by writing out questions that I need answered and then the answers start coming after a few minutes of writing out the questions.

I don’t always expect (or get) answers via journaling. Sometimes there is no clear answer. I do find that it helps sort out my thoughts, calm down if I am angry, or at least get my thoughts and feelings out.

Sometimes I use journaling prompts to learn a little more about myself, such as the weekly self-discovery questions that I post for my readers. I find that answering it by writing in my journal lets me explore the answers more deeply than just thinking about it.

 

Some things I find helpful when journaling are:

  • Privacy is essential. Knowing that no one is going to read your private thoughts means that you can feel comfortable to write. If you do not feel comfortable with having a written journal you can use online password protected journaling websites such as Penzu or 750words (I have never used one so not sure which site is best to use sorry) or write it on a piece of paper and burn it.
  • Don’t censor your thoughts. You need to be open to being honest with yourself. This isn’t always easy in the beginning but will come over time.
  • As I mentioned before, a good pen is ideal!
  • Do it regularly. Even if you set aside 5 minutes a few times a week to begin, or even once a week. You will probably find soon enough that that 5 minutes turns in to more.
  • Just keep writing until your words flow and the answers come.

 

Essentially, the key to journaling is just to put words on a page! So what are you waiting for? Grab a notebook and pen and put pen to paper.

I would love to know if you already journal or if you are inspired to start one, let me know in the comments.

Are you putting any parts of your life on hold?

Are you putting any parts of your life on hold? If you are why?

Many of us put parts of our life on hold. Waiting until the kids are older, we have more time, more money, or maybe just until we get the courage to do it. I think many of us, particularly mothers, put our self care on hold until we have more time. Or we put our relationships on hold with our partners and with our friends because we are too busy or waiting until the kids are older. The problem with this is that our relationships suffer and we can end up feeling isolated from our partners and friends. Sometimes relationships will end because one or both partners put off making their relationship a priority because they have small children. In the case of putting our self care on hold, our mental health and often our interactions with our families suffer because we are not looking after ourselves.

Maybe you used to be very creative but you are not making space for creativity in your life anymore. What are some small ways you could bring creativity back in to your life?

Maybe you are not happy at your job and need something more fulfilling but fear of taking that step is holding you back.

Is it your health, your happiness, your dreams that you are putting on hold? Why? Some reasons are very valid, we cannot do everything all at once, some things need to be put on hold for a little while. But sometimes our reasons are based on fear. Fear of ‘what if I fail’ or ‘I am not good enough’. Sometimes we just can’t see a way that we could possibly fit anything else in to our lives.

I encourage you to have a think about why you are putting off parts of your life and how you can make room in your life for those things. You don’t need to think too big, just focus on little things you could do. For example, if it is your health, can you make small changes like walking the kids to school once a week? If it is that you have put aside the creative part of you, can you buy a colouring book and pencils and colour for 10 minutes before bed or while you are waiting in the car for the kids to finish school?

What parts of your life are you putting on hold? 

 

7 Years of Marriage

This week my husband and I celebrated our 7th wedding anniversary. Seven years of marriage feels like it has gone very fast. At the same time, we have been through a lot of ups and some very hard downs in that time.

We have been together for over 14 years, with a few breaks here and there prior to getting married. The last seven years have been the best. Not the most fun, carefree times of our relationship, but the most connected times.

I can honestly say that I love him more now than the day we were married. We have both grown together and our relationship has grown as a result. We have worked out how to best support each other through the hard moments. How to move on after arguments. How to break through those times where we are feeling ‘stuck’. We know what each other needs to be happy and try to give each other the space they need to do those things. We work together as a team.

We balance each other out. We are stereotypical left brain driven (him) and right brain driven (me) and while this can cause a few issues because we are so different in how we think, we are learning to use these differences to complement each other and work better together.

I would be lying if I said that having a happy relationship is easy, because it isn’t. We have to work at it. But it is worth it.

I feel grateful every day (almost) that I married him. Here is to many, many more anniversaries.

Looking back over my wedding photos and looking at my wedding dress in the cupboard I remember how much fun we had on the day. Lots of fun, dancing, and love. I think that for our tenth anniversary I might host a party where everyone comes dressed in their wedding dress or other fancy dress that they never get to wear. I loved my dress and would love an excuse to wear it again. If you know me in real life, look out for your invitation in about three years time!

I Feel Most Like Me When I …

This weeks self discovery question is to finish this sentence ‘I feel most like me when I…’

Have a think about when you feel like you. Is it when you are out with friends? When you are at home with your family? Maybe when you are exercising or doing your favourite hobby? When you are alone?

I think I feel most like myself when I have a day or weekend to myself. When I can choose to do whatever I want. Read, meditate, walk, eat, have a bath. When I am taking time out for my own self care and to tune in to my self and my intuition.  I feel myself when I am relaxed and enjoying a peaceful night at home with my husband and kids. When I am dressed in clothes that I love. I also feel it when I am talking to people and helping them… you can take the girl out of Social Work but not the Social Worker out of the girl…

I would love to know what makes you feel most like you. 

Less Time Distracted, More Time Connecting

The last few weeks have brought multiple reminders that we need to cherish our time with our loved ones and enjoy our time on this earth.

The tragic deaths of six children, women, and men in Melbourne on the 20th January felt very close to home for me. On that day, at that exact time, my eldest daughter was in the city on her way to see her boyfriend. My husband also works not far from there and was not answering his phone when I tried calling to check on him. Six lives lost senselessly. I cannot begin to imagine the pain of their families and friends.

In recent weeks, I have had one friend, from an online group I am part of, lose her child to a terminal illness. I have also had a friend lose a family member very suddenly which has devastated him and his family.

These losses have reminded me that I need to make sure that I show my children and family how much I love them. To cherish the little moments each day that we could easily take for granted. The moments that we are too busy or too distracted to really pay attention to what our children are saying to us. I need to remember to connect with those I love. Sometimes this feels so hard when all I want is time alone or when I need to get something done, but I don’t want to wake up one day wishing I had just paid a little more attention to my family and friends.

I know that I have a bad habit of distracting myself with my phone, browsing Facebook and the internet and then wondering where the last few hours have gone. I am not as present with my children as I would like to be. I often put off playing with them because I am ‘busy’.  I often choose to browse Facebook instead of spend time with my husband. I don’t make time to see and connect with my friends as I would like to. I want this to change.

I am making a commitment to myself to be more present in my life. Less time distracted on the internet, more time connecting with the people I love.

Is this something you need to do too?

What Makes You Feel Alive?

What makes you feel alive? What makes you feel excited, exhilarated, in awe of the world?

Think about and make a list of all of the things that come to mind that make you feel more alive. Can you add more of these things in to your life? When you start to feel like you are in a rut, grab your list and do some of the things that make you feel excited and alive.

Some of the things that come to mind that make me feel most alive are:

  • Being at the beach with sand in my toes, feeling the wind in my hair and hearing the sound of the ocean.
  • Being outside and feeling the sunshine on my skin.
  • Watching my kids play and have fun, or better still, playing and laughing with them.
  • Laughing out loud
  • Sitting under a full moon.
  • When I am fully present in the moment. It might be when I am at the dinner table enjoying a family dinner or when I am having a conversation with a friend.
  • When I achieve something I felt scared to do in the beginning.
  • Doing something I am passionate about.
  • Doing something risky…. although my idea of doing something risky is pretty tame these days!

 

I would love you to leave a comment telling me what you have on your list!

What Do You Love About You?

What do you love about you? Seriously, it is important to think about it. I know people avoid thinking about it because it can feel uncomfortable. There is the ‘I don’t want to seem like I love myself’ fear from our teenage years. We have a cultural norm where we are supposed to put ourselves down and not talk up the good parts of ourselves. I certainly thought this way. You should have heard the negative self talk that used to go on in my head! I never really stopped to contemplate what I actually liked let alone loved about myself… it felt too uncomfortable.

This week, write about or think about what you love about you. For some of us it might be hard. You might have one thing to begin with but keep thinking and listing things. Maybe it is as simple as you like your smile or you like that you are a kind person. You don’t need to show anyone or tell anyone, although I would love to know if you want to share.

DO NOT let this question get you down! Do not start comparing yourself to others. Do not start thinking about all of the things that you don’t like.

This post is part of my weekly self discovery questions. You can find the others here, here, here, and here.