When was the last time you kept a journal? This habit may be a relic of your teenage years but it’s time to bring it back. If you’re looking for a way to boost your self-care and enhance your mental wellness, writing a mindfulness journal could be the answer.
Whether you’re already a scholar or new to the realms of writing, you’ve come to the right place. Within this guide, we will take a look at what a mindfulness journal is, why you should keep one, and how you can get started today. Here’s what you should know.
WHAT IS A MINDFULNESS JOURNAL?
Call it a mindfulness journal, happiness journey, or self-care diary—it doesn't matter. This is a book where you write creatively about your emotions and life. You may choose to journal to lift your mood, help you combat stress, or enhance your feelings of gratitude.
“I journal to honour how I am feeling which in turn allows me to be more mindful and present,” says Molly Mckeever, owner at Sweaty Soul Studio where she hosts daily online yoga and meditation classes.
“Even though it has been one of the biggest helps in fighting anxiety I find it hard to stick to a regular habit! I will often journal when things are overwhelming but know from previous experience it helps more when you make a daily routine of it.”
Whatever your personal reason for using a happiness journal, you may find that this activity helps improve your mental health. The good news is that you don’t need any special skills to get started. Simply find an old notebook and dedicate time to this task.
THE BENEFITS OF JOURNALING
Keeping a mindfulness journal is not merely a trend. It should come as no surprise that there are countless benefits to this activity. Before you dig out your favourite notebook to get started, let’s take a look at some of the journaling benefits you can look forward to.
Reflect on the day
Ahead of turning out the light, take a moment to reflect on all that has happened in the day. Adding this mindfulness activity to your everyday routine gives you a chance to take stock of things. You may want to write down the things that made you happy throughout the day, or look back on all the tasks or chores you have completed.
“It helps me to reflect on the day as a whole rather than just the moments leading up to going to bed which can put a whole new spin on how I'm feeling before sleep,” says Charlotte Holmes, personal trainer, fitness instructor, yoga teacher, and The Sports Edit brand ambassador. “Writing things down that I am grateful for has had such a positive impact on so many things; even down to quality of sleep.”
Control your mood
“When I get pen to paper and let thoughts flow, I realise how much my thoughts control my mood,” says McKeever. “Writing my thoughts down can feel like I am literally offloading them and relieving myself of the need to carry them. When you no longer feel the responsibility of attaching yourself to the mental story you realise you do not have to believe your thoughts—you feel free!”
Believe it or not, writing about your worries could help relieve feelings of anxiety, according to research from the University of Chicago. Researchers found that students prone to test anxiety could relieve their worries by spending ten minutes writing them down. Whatever your current mindset, taking the time to use a happiness journal could make a difference.
Inspire altruistic feelings
Chances are, you have many reasons to be grateful. However, when we get stressed or overwhelmed, it can blur our vision of reality. You may be feeling under pressure at work or trying to balance a busy schedule. During these difficult periods, you can easily fall into the trap of being angry, upset, and generally mad at the world around you.
Using a happiness journal may relieve you of these negative emotions. Research from the University of Oregon suggests that journaling improves your mental health and feelings of altruism. While the initial results of the study were positive, the researchers said that more research was needed to determine the long-term effects of mindfulness journaling.
TIPS FOR STARTING YOUR OWN JOURNAL
Ahead of putting pen to paper, you may be looking for some extra advice. Luckily, we have you covered. Here are three simple tips to get you started.
1. Set aside time each day
“Like with any new habit, my best advice is to pair it with something you do every day already. So if you have a routine of having a coffee every morning, add your journaling alongside that! This way you won’t forget,” says Mckeever.
2. Try some journaling prompts
If you’re staring at a blank page, this next tip is for you. You may not know what to write or where to start. That’s where prompts come into play. These are activities or ideas that will help you when you’re writing in your happiness journal.
3. Don’t worry about the results
Don’t panic—nobody expects you to win a Pulitzer Prize. While a flair for creativity helps, you don’t need to produce award-winning prose in your journal. Instead, focus on the message within the words you write. What are you trying to express? What ideas do you want to share with yourself? Keep an open mind and let your writing flow.
QUICK MINDFULNESS JOURNAL PROMPTS
Looking for some inspiration? While you can simply write a journal entry about your day, you may want to flex your creative muscles. Check out these quick mindfulness prompts.
1. What are you grateful for?
Becoming more grateful for the gifts you have could enhance your mental resilience. Set yourself a 5-minute timer and write down all of the things you are grateful for. You can list both huge and small aspects of your life. For example, you may be grateful for the support of your partner, the delicious food you ate today, your job, or the love of your pets.
2. Who (or what) inspires you?
Is there a special person in your life that inspires you? Do you gain inspiration from books, TV shows, or podcasts? What is it that gets your creative juices flowing? Set yourself a short timer and write a paragraph, starting with the sentence ‘I am inspired by…’ Don’t put too much pressure on yourself to get this ‘right’, just allow the words to come naturally.
3. How are you practising self-care?
Taking a moment to consider how you are practising self-care helps you emphasise its importance. Start by writing down the ways that you have looked after your needs today. You may have had a relaxing bath, read a book, or taken an hour to prepare a tasty meal. You can list these experiences in your happiness journal. Next, create a separate list of self-care ideas you could try tomorrow. You may want to tick them off as you do them.
4. What gives you energy?
What is it that makes you feel energised? When you’re busy working or managing a hectic schedule, you may never stop to give this some thought. However, understanding the things that lift you up could be essential to your ongoing self-care activities. With that in mind, set a short timer and start a paragraph with ‘I am energised by…’ Next, go ahead and write down all of the things that bring you a burst of positive energy.
Ready to get started and enhance your mindfulness through journaling? There’s no time like the present. Keeping a happiness journal on a daily basis could afford you countless benefits. Why not do yourself a favour and start this self-care activity today?