Updated: Jun 11, 2021
Journaling has been a huge part of of my healing journey this year. I have started and stopped so many times, I have lost count (to be honest, the losing count has been a conscious choice and a part of giving myself grace).
I have tried a few different types of journaling – so I thought I would share them with you and see if any of them resonate with you.
Personally, I have tried gratitude journaling a few times. Over time, I have realized that the most important thing in writing gratitude is not how many things you are grateful for, it's about writing the why.
For example, instead of writing
“I am grateful that the sun was shining today”
you can try
“I am grateful that the sun was shining today and that I was able to go out and take a walk to feel the rays on my face.”
Do you see how that feels different? Another advantage of writing it this way is that on days when you may not be feeling particularly grateful, you can re-read them and the why makes it easier to get back into the feelings of gratitude.
Self Reflective Journaling
This style of journaling works well when working through issues you are going through. It is a safe place to write down things you may be afraid to say - you can process your past pain and worries about the future without feeling like someone else will disagree or pass judgement. Journal prompts can be a very effective tool in this form of journaling, especially when you are getting started.
As you get more comfortable with this style of journaling, you may find that you no longer need prompts. How this might work – you have a presentation at work.
Before: write about the presentation, what you are worried about and why you are the best person to make this presentation
After: debrief about how the presentation went – what you did well and what you could improve on in the future.
Making sure you find some positive in the experience is important – even though it can be hard sometimes. Part of this style of journaling, for me at least, is trying to find a little glimmer of positivity in any experience. This style is also a great way to explore both sides of a decision you need to make
Stream of Consciousness Journaling
This style of journaling was made famous in Julia Cameron’s book “The Artist’s Way”. In this form, you literally write down everything that comes to mind, even “I don’t know what to write” or “This feels silly.” Cameron prescribes writing 3 pages first thing in the morning. I have tried this style of writing both first thing in the morning and in the evening and have found they serve different purposes.
In the morning, I find that writing your thoughts on the page can empty your mind – allowing space for new ideas. In the evening it works as a way to reflect on the day's events, processing it to allow for a good night’s sleep. I personally prefer the morning writing (except for the waking up early part!) and have found as I keep writing I often end up with a spark of inspiration.
No matter what style you choose, you may end up discovering that you really enjoy writing and take it into other aspects of your life!