Self-care looks different for everyone, but did you know that one of the easiest and most effective ways to take care of yourself and your mental health is by journaling?
It doesn’t have to be the wistful, “dear diary” entries that you think of from teenage dramas. Although, maybe some of the young adults that started recording their thoughts and feelings at a young age got a head start on wellness because writing out emotional thoughts and events has proven to improve physical and psychological health. However, creating a wellness journal for mental health, wellbeing, weight loss or habit tracking are just a few ways you can use journaling to achieve a variety of wellness goals.
From writing down the mundane thoughts that pass through your mind to expressing the highs and lows of events happening in your everyday life, journaling is a simple but powerful tool you can use to organize and understand your thoughts, relieve stress and grow toward achieving your goals in just a few minutes a day. Used when intermittent fasting, it’s a device that can help provide clarity throughout your journey and help you achieve the consistency and results you’ve set out to accomplish.
What is journaling?
Journaling is merely the act of writing down or typing your thoughts on paper or a computer. It’s as simple as sitting down to write for 15 minutes a day and either responding to a guided prompt or freewriting whatever comes to mind. It’s one of the easiest, low-cost ways to improve your mental health by processing your thoughts in an analytical way and giving you space to respond to them.
What are the benefits of journaling?
By recording and processing stress, people who frequently journal have experienced:
- Improved mood
- Decreased anxiety and depression
- Better immune health
- Reduced blood pressure
- Enhanced memory
- Better sense of gratitude
- and many other benefits that contribute to living well.
From another perspective, journaling manifestations – or your thoughts, dreams, goals and plans – helps create a better sense of self and clarity to move toward your end goal. Positive journaling allows you to gain self-awareness and pivot your thoughts to what will benefit you from a growth standpoint, which helps you logistically adjust the way you approach your goals based on what you need.
How to start journaling
You don’t have to be a writer to start a journal. Everyone is qualified to express themselves through writing. The key is to start.
The first step is to:
- Choose your tools (pen and paper or computer)
- Begin with a simple prompt like recapping your day
- Set a timer for 15 minutes
- Write what comes to mind without editing yourself until the timer goes off
- Re-read your entry and clean it up as you’d like
Journaling is a personal tool that has no rules, so don’t set expectations for what’s to come out of it at first until you get in a routine and start noticing patterns. It’s also helpful to experiment with journaling sessions – what you’re writing about, how long you’re writing for, etc. – to find what works best for you or shake things up if you feel like you’re at a plateau.
What to write about in your journal
The beauty of journaling is that you can write about whatever you want. If you’ve had a stressful day or something weighing on your mind, getting those feelings on paper is a great place to start. On the flip side, expressing gratitude for everything you have or that’s going well is very beneficial for cultivating that feeling and magnifying the good. You can also use entry space as an intuitive eating journal.
The most therapeutic journal entries do at least one of these three things:
- Sensemaking: Journaling is the act of authoring our own story. Writing connects our experiences to a coherent story so we can tell ourselves a continuing narrative about our lives and determine our place in that story.
- Celebration: Journal entries can draw our attention to the positive aspects of the world and our lives and invite us to dwell on them. Part of our evolutionary endowment is a tendency to focus on the negative. That’s good for survival, but creates an unrepresentative view of reality.
- Catharsis: Journaling is an outlet for cycles of rumination. Dedicated “worry time” is a stage of dealing with problems that would otherwise just fester. This is like the counterintuitive advice to listening to a song to get an earworm out of your head. Directly naming our worries, even if it’s private, allows us to finish the thought that’s been half looping.
If you’re feeling unsure of where to start with an entry, here are a few more specific ideas that could get you started:
- What’s on my mind?
- What am I grateful for?
- Where do I see myself in one year? (Include feelings and quality of life details, not just achievements)
- What do I value?
- What is one thing I love about myself?
- What is my ideal morning/nighttime routine?
- I am proud of myself for ___.
- What is currently worrying me the most?
- What can/did I do to take care of myself today?
- How can I simplify my life?
- What do I need more of in my life?
If you’re looking for more personalized guidance on journaling through an IF journey, having a Temper coach on hand for support may be the resource you need. Our fasting coaches not only help you set realistic goals for yourself and your lifestyle, but they also have a library of journaling prompts to choose from based on your current circumstances, learnings, struggles and needs. Your coach is there to help you uncover your core narratives and redirect your thoughts to those that will help you stay motivated, on track and growing toward your goals.
How to make journaling a habit
In the beginning, journaling will take a little trial and error to find what works best for you. Start by testing time of day, length of time writing, how often you write and whether you eat or caffeinate before journaling to find what you like. Then schedule it into your days. Whether you’re writing twice a week or daily, making it a task on your to-do list helps make it concrete in your agenda and a solid part of your daily or weekly routine.
Forming a wellness journaling practice not only helps you improve your mental health, but can help your intuitive eating or intermittent fasting journey become more effective, especially when paired with tools like Citravarin Fasting Mints and one-on-one wellness coaching. Journaling is a compelling way to address and analyze the daily thoughts you have racing through your mind and a dependable method for combating anxiety and depression as well as improving your mental and physical wellness.