How to start journaling
1. Be open to what works for you
Sometime we have expectations of what journaling should be, e.g. we have to do it every day or it has to be beautiful prose that we keep for posterity. This can be intimidating and keep us from getting started. Don’t put expectations on yourself of what will come out of it. Sometimes it can feel helpful to get rid of a journal entry if it has difficult feelings on it. The act of tearing something up and throwing it away can be helpful as well.
2. Be aware of different ways to journal
You can write in a narrative style and “just see what comes out”. You can focus on a certain topic. Gratitude journaling is just listing things for which you are grateful. Bullet journaling has become popular as well. Some people like to add drawings to their journaling to assist with emotional expression. You can have a beautiful paper journal, have a file on your computer or write something in the Notes section of your phone. Any of these styles can be helpful. If you are more visual, consider adding drawings or other pictures to your journaling. Our brains often code more emotional experiences in pictures, rather than words, so drawing may be an easier way to translate these experiences.
3. Journaling is a great substitute for having someone to talk to in that moment
Journaling processes thoughts in a similar ways to talking something out. There are some topics that we are ready or able to talk to others about. Journaling reduces fear of what others might say by taking other people out of the equation. This can be a great way to get those swirling thoughts out and see what they are about.
4. You can’t do it wrong
Any time you are exploring your thoughts and feelings, it can be helpful. Journaling is a skill and it gets easier with practice. Keep trying different styles to see what works for you.