How to Journal
Updated: Mar 8, 2021
When we hear the word journaling, the first thing that pops to mind is, “Dear Diary… I went to school today and came home and ate a sandwich and had some chocolate milk…,” and so on. Kind of like the 80s-90s movies when they would show the teenage girl by her bedroom window gazing out. Although, journaling can look like that, it does not necessarily have to look like that.
Living through this time of social distancing has gotten me to thinking about journaling. I remember talking about it during school -- we were taught about the benefits of it. I also recognize the benefits and rewards of it when I do it myself.
During group and individual therapy sessions throughout my career, I’ve gathered some great journaling topics that tend to make us think and explore. They are great starters for your journaling adventure during our time of social distancing.
Journaling Topic Ideas:
Who is/was your most influential teacher? And why?
Describe the most memorable gift you’ve ever received.
Describe how you have improved in the last year.
What are some things missing in your life? What barriers are in the way of those things?
What was a turning point in your life? What changed?
Name and describe the people in your support system. (Also include outside your circle of friends and family).
Who do you need to spend more time with? Why? What would you do together?
What change do you need to make in your life that you are afraid of doing?
If you could switch places with someone for an entire day, who would it be and why? What would you do?
Describe the last time you truly felt alive.
What qualities do you think others admire about you?
Tips for Journaling:
1. Just write.
Don’t worry about spelling, punctuation, grammar, etc. Just write and let it flow.
2. Judgment free zone.
Don’t judge yourself for what you’re writing. These are merely thoughts and you are just exploring.
3. Keep it moving.
If you get off topic, go with it, see where it takes you.
4. Become self-aware.
Notice your mood before you start writing, while you are writing, and after you are done writing. Maybe even use a scaling system and jot down where you rate your mood when you start, in the middle and then at the end of your journal entry. Then, compare your numbers.
5. Use what you have.
If you do not have a pen and notebook available, go to the notes on your phone and just type away. Some of us can type faster than we write anyway. Although, it can be fun to decorate and doodle your pages.
6. Protect your work.
If you are worried about others finding your journal and reading it, stash it in a place where no one would think of finding it. To go even further, you can throw it away, shred it, burn it, etc. Sometimes when it is a difficult topic and that person is ready to move on from it, I suggest burning it and having that cathartic feeling of getting rid of it and watching it burn, (safely of course!)
Let me know if you’ve tried some of these journaling ideas and how it goes. Also, if you have other fun journaling topic ideas send them my way. I love hearing from my readers!
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