Everyone has their own processing style. Think back to when you were in school, how best did you learn? Was it visually, through what the teacher wrote on the board? Was it orally, through what was said or maybe a video you watched online? Was it through writing and taking notes? Or, did you process it in a mix of all of these?
For me, I’ve always been a writer. As long as I can remember I’ve kept a journal and written down all my emotions, daily activities, goals and dreams, fears, etc. In school, I would copy down word-for-word lessons and projects so I could process it all. It’s been the way I think and the way I create forever.
And now as an adult it’s become an incredible stress management tool for me, if done in the right way (my therapist instructed me not to journal when I was at an extremely low point as it would probably only exacerbate the situation, but once I could think more clearly and write objectively, it would be a great tool to understand my feelings).
I think journaling is something we all could use more of. In a study conducted in New Zealand in 2013, 49 healthy adults aged 64 to 97 years wrote about either upsetting events or daily activities for 20 minutes, three days in a row. After a time lag of two weeks, to make sure any initial negative feelings stirred up by recalling upsetting events had passed, all the subjects had a biopsy on the arm, and photographs over the next 21 days tracked its healing. On the 11th day, 76 percent of the group that did expressive writing had fully healed as compared with 42 percent of the control group.
“We think writing about distressing events helped participants make sense of the events and reduce distress,” says Elizabeth Broadbent, professor of medicine at the University of Auckland in New Zealand and co-author of the study, published in July in Psychosomatic Medicine.
There is also this research paper in Cambridge.org that suggests writing about traumatic, stressful or emotional events has been found to result in improvements in both physical and psychological health, in non-clinical and clinical populations.
It’s fair to say writing, and specifically journaling, can have exponential personal growth opportunities and stress reduction/improvement. Inline with this idea, I’ve written down 5 reasons why I believe YOU should start a journaling ritual. Make sure to read to the end of this post as I also include some of my favorite journaling prompts for personal growth. Happy self-exploring, friends!
Reason #1: It gives you control over your mindset for the day.
If the first thing you do every morning, before checking your phone or making breakfast, is to write down your goals for the day and what you’re thankful for, then you’re setting yourself up for success. I really believe that mindset has a strong place in the way life unfolds, and you can put yourself ahead of the game by starting each day off on a positive foot.
Reason #2: It helps you create consistency in your life.
The most important deals are the ones we make with ourselves. If you follow through on what you promise yourself, I believe you can accomplish anything. Just try it for a week and see if other aspects of your life improve, or change, in a positive way.
Reason #3: It centers your thoughts and gives you focus.
I find when I write, I get laser focus. It doesn’t matter if my husband is snoring next to me or the coffee machine is brewing loudly in the kitchen, it’s all drowned out by my thoughts. If I apply this kind of focus first thing in the morning, I find it’s easier to return to throughout the day while I’m working or doing something that I typically have trouble focusing on. The mind is a muscle, so the more you practice using it in a way that works for you then the more it’ll get used to that practice.
Reason #4: It’s FUN! And adds joy to your mornings.
Do you have that one song that comes on the radio and you just can’t help but turn it up, sing out loud, and smile? It speaks to your soul, and you can get that same feeling from journaling. If you’ve been working on actionable steps towards one of your dreams and something clicks while you’re journaling about it, you will feel on top of the world. It’s your soul aligning with your purpose, and there’s magic to happen there.
Reason #5: It makes space for personal growth and starts your self-care journey.
I find that self-ruminating can be really, really fulfilling if done positively, and can make you learn things about yourself you wouldn’t normally. This, in turn, allows you to understand how to present yourself best to the world. It’s a beautiful thing! If you’re feeling stuck in an area of your life, just start writing about it a bit every morning and see how it unfolds.
Fun fact: a few months before I met my now-husband, I wrote a list of all the things I was looking for in a life partner. My non-negotiable’s and what I would be willing to compromise on. I stuck it under my pillow and revisited the list every morning and night. I really believe that it helped me manifest my dream partner, and so when he came along I knew exactly what I was looking for and it all just unfolded quickly in all the best ways.
Journal Prompts for Personal Growth
What are 3 things I’m grateful for right now?
What are my weekly goals, monthly goals, and yearly goals?
What is 1 thing I can do today that gets me closer to my goal?
If I could do one thing for myself right now, what would it be and why?
How can I make 30 minutes in my day for self-care (a bath, meditating, sitting outside, a cup of tea, etc.)?
What do I want the people I love to say to themselves? And how does that affect what I say to myself?
What do I need to let go of right now to make space for something new?
Write down 10 positive affirmations about yourself.
What is a hobby I’ve always wanted to try yet haven’t? And how can I make the time to try it?
Write down your personal mission statement (i.e., the values you live by, what you don’t sway on, etc.).
What is 1 thing in my life I should do more of? And, what is 1 thing I should do less of?
Write down your deepest fear. Now, write down all the things that could happen instead. Replace your fear with possibilities of something new/different.
What is your favorite memory, and why?
Write down what your ideal day looks like, then work backwards. How can I achieve that in 1 year? How can I achieve it in 6 months? What can I do in 1 month to make my day look more like that? What is 1 thing I can do today to make it happen?
How can I appreciate my worth?
What is your unique life purpose, and how can you utilize it everyday?
What are the 3 most important things for you to spend your energy on?
What negative self-belief do I need to unlearn?
Are you surrounding yourself with people who want what’s best for you?
Name a highlight of your day and why.
What are three things you’re looking forward to in this next season?
I love that journaling has become my go-to tool for self-discovery and personal growth. It’s like my secret weapon that I’m so excited to share with you! When I journal, I can actually feel myself aligning with my truest potential, and I think that’s such a beautiful thing. Also, it’s my favorite creative expression.
If you journal everyday, what are your go-to tips?
Or, if you’re just now picking up a journal for the first time: Godspeed, my friend.
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