365 Days of Journaling – Challenge

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Do you remember that diary you kept underneath your pillow at night as a child? It was probably very colorful and had a lock attached to it with a key. I loved my diary. It had a gold lock and key that I kept stored away in a very safe place for fear that someone would read about my tribulations on the playground that day! Today, diaries are digital and have large plastic fancy locks. Either way, I believe it is a great way for children to get their feelings out and on paper.

My childhood diary writing could be why today I love journaling. I have a journal next to my bed (still colorful) and I carry my leather bound journal in my purse wherever I go. Journaling has become a ritual for me and has helped my healing throughout the past three years of my life. Writing my thoughts down has helped clear my head on days when my brain feels like it is going to explode with thoughts/feelings and also helped on days when I just needed a little inspiration to get me going.

What better way to start this new year by making a ritual of journal writing! Writing, specifically journaling, has been studied by psychologists for years. In an article published by Psychology Today, John F. Evans, Ed.D explains “the literature of several healthcare professions suggests that for many people wellness and writing can be closely connected, and that writing is useful for obtaining and sustaining emotional, physical, and spiritual health. You can read more specifically as to the psychologists and their studies at http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/write-yourself-well/201208/can-i-write-myself-well.

Why not take a challenge with me for this new year? 365 days of journaling (well 360 days now ha!).   I will give you some tips and ideas below that have helped me in the past but feel free to make journaling yours; it’s really your own free expression to heal, put your creativity to paper or to simply clear your mind.

Lose the planning…

When I first started writing in my journal, I planned what I would write in my head before writing it like someone else was going to read it. This is your journal, so feel free to write about anything and everything. My best mornings/nights are when I just take a pen to paper and write about any thought that comes into my head. So what if it doesn’t make sense. Your mind doesn’t make sense sometimes, hence why journaling is a great way to clear out the confusion to make room for clarity.

Break free from guidelines…

There are no guidelines to your journaling so don’t make any up. If you feel like writing two words on a Friday night or several pages on a Sunday afternoon, then so be it. I was once told by a friend that for years she struggled with journaling because of the lines on the paper; she felt like she had to fill the lines on the page. Once she bought an un-lined journal, she felt free to write away; wherever she wanted to on the paper. I think this is a great idea! Doodling encouraged…creativity is produced when guidelines are broken! Break free for your self imposed guidelines on time, quantity, quality, topics, etc. Just write…however and whenever you would like during the day.

Aesthetics for some…

Some people find it more relaxing to pick a journal that is aesthetically welcoming. Although, I’ve known others that like to use a simple $1.00 notebook. Find what works for you. I found my beautiful leather bound journal at Barnes & Noble which has a removable leather bound cover that I can put on a new simply lined journal once my old one has filled up! (My crafty/creative side has recently come up with an idea to design DIY journals as gifts in the new year and began selling them recently on Etsy.) Again, this is your writing…your time. Make it however you wish.

Find a quiet space to be alone…

As I know this can be difficult for some people with our busy lives, children, family, etc., finding a space and a few minutes alone is very important each day. In order to clear my head, I need quiet; no phones, computers, T.V., no distractions. This may be different for some people. I’ve been told by others that they enjoy listening to music while journaling. Whatever works for you, but I would suggest to be alone during this time so you can really let go when writing.

Make it a point to journal everyday…

This is key and the challenge for your new year! I know that some days are longer than others. Work can very stressful; life can be exhausting. Keeping a commitment to yourself of journaling everyday will be well worth it at the end of year and a practice you will hopefully continue for the rest of your life. Use this commitment as a daily gift for yourself.

I hope you give the 365 days of journaling a shot and join me in the challenge for 2014!   Most importantly, I hope that you enjoy the time to yourself, time for self expression, creativity and clarity!

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