Introduction to What to write about in a journal
Today I want to talk about Journals and Journaling. Every one of my therapists has suggested that I journal, so it must be a good idea!
Being mindful of your thoughts, feelings, and activities is rather rewarding. I want to look at why it is necessary, how you can journal, and what to journal about.
Please remember these are steps that have helped me and are my thoughts. I am not a therapist, so you should always seek medical advice from a professional.
I feel confident sharing this message with you because I journal myself and have learned tips and tricks through my life experiences.
For me, it helps to get the thoughts and emotions out of my body. I hope this makes sense; I will explain further.
When you have a bowl of grapes, and a few of them are bad, you throw the bad ones out. No one wants to taste a rotten grape. It is the same with your thoughts …throw out the bad ones!!
Leaving negative thoughts in your mind and heart will ruin your good and positive thoughts; by journaling, you can expel them onto paper and out of yourself.
Another reason is to share with your mental health support team, your therapist especially. Suppose you see your therapist once a month. That is a lot of time to cover in an hour. You will only remember important things for an entire month if you keep a record.
For example, if your therapist asks you to give her information about your sleep cycle, you will need to write it down each morning to create a log of how you sleep; what better than journaling about it?!
Journaling is also self-discipline. You set your mind to do it at a particular time or on certain days. Stick to it!
It helps to have journaling as a self-care. Just like you make an appointment with your therapist, you should also make an appointment with yourself.
A person on Reddit asked why they should journal. I found the answers to all be true things for myself, but one response stuck out to me. I can not quote the person whose account has been deleted, but I will leave the link here to the post.
How to Journal
There is no right or wrong way to journal! It is what you are most comfortable with and will stick with. If you make it too big of a deal, you may not stay with it long-term.
You can have a unique book to write in or even a legal pad. It doesn’t have to be expensive. You need some paper (or even some digital means) to write in, save, and share when you want.
Speaking of digital means….you could use your computer or cellphone to jot down your thoughts on a word document. You can password-protect it and keep adding to it daily or at whatever frequency you set.
Some people are really into fancy journals, and if you like them and have the funds, that’s the way to go!! You can buy special pens and markers, and highlighters. Some people use different color pages or stickers. You can find some really creative ways to journal.
I am primarily in the middle. I have two books I journal in; one is a spiral-bound book with lined sheets. It is special to me because James bought it for my birthday while on a trip to mackinaw Island Mi.
Even when I need to write something awful, a nightmare maybe, the book reminds me of that trip and that special birthday I shared with James and Joe. I always stop and look at the cover for a moment which is just a simple cardboard cover with a cutout that says mackinaw island on the 1st page.
Legend Planner pro hourly schedule
The second book is also a journal, but it is slightly different. It is a journal-type planner and record keeper. You can find my book here…. It is a Legend Planner pro hourly schedule edit.
I write down my weekly goals, what I hope to accomplish, and things to focus on. The days start in rows from 6 am to 9 pm, broken up into half an hour lines. The objective is to write down what you are doing all day. Then you can look back and see what needs improvement or was well done!!
For example the 1st week, I was supposed to change nothing….do my daily life, and just record it. At the end of that week, I was to review each day. What I found was I spent way too much time on social media. Facebook specifically, it seemed like it was written all over the place!
Have you ever felt busy all day, but when you go to bed, you can’t think of one thing you accomplished all day?? Well, in your records, you will see what you were doing…it might show you that you performed so many things!!
The reason I started using it was that I was losing time. I told my therapist that I was “zoning out” at times. I would sit in my chair, and hours passed without me noticing until I snapped out of it.
She suggested the book and for me to become aware of what I was doing. I also should set the alarm for each hour of the day until bedtime.
At each hour, I would send a text message to myself that said just a few words about what I was doing at that moment and over the last hour. (This helped me from getting up and writing in the book every half an hour)
I would then dedicate time each day to use the text messages to write in the book. Usually around 1:30 pm because James was getting ready for work then.
I would make his lunch, then write in my book. At night time before bed, I would finish out the day in the book and look over what I had done all day. It was very eye-opening.
I noticed I talked on the phone a lot and played on Facebook even more! It also helped me focus on the present moment, and I found my losing time stopped when I started using the alarms.
I must be honest; my phone going off every hour is annoying! My family doesn’t particularly like it either! It has interrupted many dinners, and it’s incredibly awful when you can hear it but don’t see the phone anywhere!
What to write about in a journal
Ok, so we talked about why and how…. let’s talk about what’s next.
You can journal whatever you want, any and every thought you have! You can write down ideas you may be thinking about, maybe plans for a birthday. You could write down things from your past that bother you or memories you treasure!
I use mine for a day-by-day emotions journal. My journal might say on a lousy day …..
It doesn’t always have to be bad stuff or always be good stuff. Life is full of ups and downs, and you need to be present in that moment. That is truly living. You can’t go back to live in the past, and you definitely can plan for the future, but it’s not a guarantee things will work the way you planned them to.
Journaling emotions is also helpful in getting your feelings identified. If you sit down and write your thoughts as they come, you will see what you really think. For example
Read it back….stop and identify…is it true??? Am I stupid? NO! Am I supposed to nap? No, but it’s not a sin, and no one is perfect. Can you make something else?? YES!
You need to acknowledge your feelings; you are not perfect because no one in this world is!! You can not be Ms. Rosy Sunshine 24/7, either. When you face your feelings, you can change the negative and increase the positive.
I will be honest I need help with this, and probably half of my journal is “why did I do that??” Or negative “I’m stupid or ugly” in truth, I am not stupid or ugly, but I sometimes feel that way.
Your journal is for YOU! It’s your thoughts. It doesn’t have to be written a certain way. You may be thinking of ways you want to cook that week or something you are planning and want to share feelings about it.
Examples of my lists in my journal
What do I want to do with my blog tomorrow?
- Outline and write an article
- Create graphics and images for an article
- Plan out social media posts
- Create an SEO plan for the article
- Edit article
- Correct spelling and grammar
- Re-write article
- Upload all images
- Publish article
- Posts on social media
I know these steps now, but this was an actual list from my journal when I tried to figure it out. I still look at it to ensure I don’t miss a step from time to time, and actually, a bit more goes into it than that… this was my 1st draft of the list. That’s the fantastic thing about lists you can add or cross off.
You can also just jot stuff down. Whatever you are feeling or thinking, your journal is the safest place to write it. It helps you to see what your emotions were like on that day.
Example of What to write about in a journal
- Wake up- happy
- Start the day- in a good mood.
- Take a nap, have a nightmare- scared and shaking.
- Wake up, thankful it’s Thursday. It’s therapy day.
- Therapy relives the nightmare – crying, upset
- Joe comes home – puts on a happy face, hides the tears
- James asks if I’m ok- a fake smile
- Shower… I’m terrified and ashamed I have to ask James to sit in the bathroom again.
- Bedtime – dread that I don’t want to sleep.
- James, let’s talk about your day….open up and explain what is really happening.
- Feel better and go to sleep.
It doesn’t have to be fancy paragraphs or eloquent words! How you relate is how you should write.
My most important tip… don’t lie to yourself; keep your journal accurate! Otherwise, there really isn’t a point. Being honest with yourself is hard sometimes, but you need to be truthful to your own self! You can fake smiles to your friends or strangers for a while but don’t do it to yourself! You can create fairytales but write them down as such.