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How to start a journaling practice as a busy woman and how it can help you to feel calmer and happier

In this blog I explain, how to start a journaling practice with just 5 minutes a day and why it is so important to take this daily 5 minutes if you want to re-discover the calmer and happier version of you.

Why Journal?

There are a few different reasons why keeping a journal can help us to find calm and happiness.

The first and most important way in which journaling helps us, is that it allows us 5 to 10 sacred minutes a day to ourselves and with our own thoughts. 5 or 10 minutes to exit the hamster wheel and just take stock of our experiences.

The second reason is to help record things that happen to us, so that we can look back on them in years to come and remember the fun we had or the enjoyment we got out of doing the activity we’ve written about.  Do you remember keeping a diary when you were little?  I think I had one with a padlock on, although I highly doubt anyone would have been interested in reading my teenage ramblings…….

Thirdly, it is a great way to record and explore your feelings around different situations you encounter along the bumpy road of life.  This is especially useful if you find it hard to talk about your emotions and tend to bury them to be dealt with at a later date if ever.  Getting the emotions out on to the page can help to reduce that feeling of overwhelm and actually help you to realise how the circumstances you find yourself in are making you feel. 

This leads nicely on to the last way, which is that it can help you to realise things about yourself, deal with emotional situations that you haven’t dealt with perhaps for years and let go of some of the resentment, fear and anxiety that may be holding you back from growing into the calm and happy person that’s inside of you.

 

What should you write in or on?

In this digital age, of course there are apps available for journaling, Google returns a ton of options should this be your style, but I’ll be honest I’m a little bit old school and like to keep it simple.  Give me a pen and an A5 notebook with a flowery cover and I’m a happy girl.  There is something about putting pen to paper after a day typing on a keyboard that just signifies ‘RELAX’ to me.  But ultimately it’s down to you.

 

What to write?

When someone first suggested journaling to me I’ll admit I was petrified.  Writing was never my thing at school, much preferring the factual style of the scientific disciplines to that of Shakespeare.  So for 20 years I told myself journaling wasn’t for me.  But, it just kept cropping up as a way to manage my anxious thoughts, so I took the plunge.  Initially I sat there paralysed, scared to open the floodgates, not entirely sure what was about to come out.

So I started simple with a daily gratitude practice, 3 things a day that I was grateful for.  They weren’t always big things, sometimes I was grateful for the feeling of the warm sun on my face, catching a glimpse of a little bird hunting for worms on the grass outside my office window, or the chance to drink a hot cup of tea in relative peace and quiet at my desk.

Daily gratitudes are a wonderful way for you to begin a journal practice, they don’t take too long and are relatively simple to think of.  I like to make mental notes of gratitude throughout the day, when I see something that makes me laugh or melts my heart (usually my daughter on both counts), so that when I come to record my gratitudes I have a rich supply.  This also serves to improve my mood all day.

Once I’d realised I could do this writing thing I started to be inspired by nature, the plants growing in my garden, the insects and the ecosystem that kept everything ticking along so wonderfully.

I find great joy in recording the tiny details of the events I witness and on reflection, these details are what makes the memories come alive.

As your practice grows, try and record small details about the interactions you see and are part of, they will help to serve your memory more effectively when you return to read your words in the future.

I’ve found it incredibly important to be honest about my feelings, if I try to ignore them I don’t have the same sense of satisfaction after I’ve finished writing and feel like I still have an itch that needs to be scratched.

I know it can be scary to allow yourself to feel your feelings, but in my experience once you’re over that initial panic and you allow your emotions to flow, your daily interactions become more joyful, you begin to feel more alive not to mention more aware of not only your own mood but that of others around you.

Some days I can just about muster the energy to write my 3 daily gratitudes, other days the words pour out of me on to the page.  I accept that and don’t hold myself to any strict rules.  Write as much as you need to.

You might like to draw a picture instead of writing words or just let your hand move where it wants and doodle away.

If you have had a particularly tough day, you can use your journal to explore your feelings around what happened and why.   Seeing the words on the page in front of you provides wonderful clarity.

 

When to journal?

This is completely personal preference, but whatever time of day you decide to journal I suggest linking it to something you already do.  For example making a cup of tea in the morning or when you first get into bed at night.  This will help you in remembering to do it.

I started journaling in the morning, but that lasted about 2 days as I just couldn’t concentrate while my little girl was around.  Now, I prefer to do my journaling at night, as soon as I get into bed but before I read my book.  I find I have more clarity and headspace that way.  Plus as you know I am all about encouraging you to take uninterrupted time for yourself.

If you do decide to give journaling a go, I’d love you to share a picture of your journal over on Instagram and tag me in it my handle is @adventureswithflowers

I'm happy to answer any questions about how you can find more time for yourself through journalling as well as the other aspects of my Mind in Bloom membership- mindful gardening, floristry and taking inspiration from nature to help us grow.  So don’t be shy, I’m here to help. Send me a message on Instagram.

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