Journaling for the
Almost every self-help book I’ve ever read recommended journaling as a healthy habit to embrace and believe me, I’ve tried. I have a giant stack of floral notebooks with the first three pages written on to prove it. And then after page three I fizzle out on my genius revelations. I get in my own way, “this is a waste of time”, “I have nothing to say”, “what is the actual point of this”, “this is boring”, “I’m forcing it”, “is there a new episode of Game of Thrones out yet”. And so the cycle goes. Can anyone relate?
But recently, I think I might have had a breakthrough! I’ve actually made it past page 3 to page 30. I’m terrible at math, but I know that’s a pretty hefty increase. So I’m here to share what worked for me and how it truly has become a healthy habit – just in case anyone out there is looking to add another “to-do” to their list *wink wink*, no really, it’s good!
First off, I should explain why I keep TRYING to be a journaling queen. The major reason is that since I can remember I have struggled with chronic anxiety. It’s real and it’s heavy and honestly some days it’s an effort just to walk out the front door. Sounds dramatic, but if you’ve dealt with anxiety then you know. I’ve read so many books and articles about it, talked to so many friends, family, and even counsellors that all shout – WRITE IN A JOURNAL! So, I’m trying people!
They say that when you write down your worries then you get it out of your head and onto the page, which should provide some sort of relief. Sometimes you can look at your thought and realize, “Wow, there’s literally nothing I can do about this IF it actually even happens”. Or maybe you’ll discover how silly of a thought it is just by seeing it on paper. Or maybe it actually is a real issue, but at least you can stick a pin in it for now so that you can constructively determine a solution rather than just snowball it in your mind.
For me, my worries hit hardest when I’m trying to fall asleep. “What if all of my friends think this whole blog idea is stupid and silly and they stop being my friend?!”, “What if something happens to my mom or dad while I’m living 5 hours away in Chicago?”, “Did Andrew lock the front door?”, “I hope Sally isn’t mad at me for that joke I made about her cooking”. And on and on it goes. Sometimes I just have ONE thought that literally plays over and over like a broken record. I’m not kidding, it drives me mental and I get so frustrated with myself like, “Ashley, COME ON!” But, I honestly don’t know how to turn off that way of thinking – magic wand anyone?
However, now I’ve discovered LISTS. That’s right, my secret elixir to cracking the Journaling enigma is just writing down a simple list. I don’t have to be a Pulitzer Prize winning writer or have earth-shattering epiphanies, I can simply write down my worries or things I don’t want to forget in a list and revisit them in the morning. Sweet relief! Now I’m not saying this has magically made all my troubles and worries fade into nothing, but it’s certainly helped! I find I’m so much more productive because I’m being much more intentional about those worries and ideas that only hit when I’m trying to fall asleep.
Beyond the anxiety release, I also find I capture some darn good ideas at night. I write down book ideas, pictures I want to take, projects I want to start, people I should contact that I haven’t spoken to in some time, anything! And then I don’t forget because let me tell you, if there was an award for world’s worst memory, I would win. And as I mentioned before, this has made me SO much more productive. When you wake up with a solid to-do list it’s amazing what you can accomplish.
So rather than trying to be the next Jane Austen start by making a simple list. It could be a grocery list, a bucket list, a list of errands you need to run, a list of books you want to read – whatever you fancy. And from there, see how your journaling evolves. It could remain a collection of lists or maybe one of the ideas on one of those lists could blossom into something really major. Who knows? But if you’ve ever been a non-journaler who wants to journal then this is a sure fire way to get started.