Mindful Journaling - Writing Your Way to Wellness
Dear diary… a method of mindfulness or just a moment of madness? Whilst probably not something that instantly springs to mind when thinking of mindful practices, writing a journal is actually a great way to bring awareness of the present moment and tap into our feelings and emotions.
With social media taking the role of documenting what you did and where you went (and what you ate!), journaling has moved on from those teenage ‘dear diary’ moments and is the opportunity to dig a little deeper and really work into a regular self-care practice. Good on paper or not worth the paper it’s written on? Mindful journaling (or reflective journaling as it is also known) can have a profound impact on our overall wellbeing. In fact, one study highlighted that participants who were experiencing depressive episodes actually saw a reduction in their symptoms by around 35% after practicing gratitude journaling.
"Journal writing is a voyage to the interior" Christina Baldwin
So, What Is Mindful Journaling?
Mindfulness is all about focusing on awareness and bringing attention to the here and now, and there are a number of different practices that can be considered mindful. From mindful running, mindful walking, and mindful eating, journaling shares many of the same traits that other mindfulness practices do. Benefits such as increased focus to the present moment heightened awareness and focused concentration plus it can be done at any time and any place and has little or no cost.
When it comes to mindful journaling, it’s about more than just a notepad and pen - it’s about expression, awareness, and getting out onto paper those fears, worries, judgements, and ruminating thoughts that can weigh us down and make us feel anxious and troubled.
To truly get stuck into your journaling you can use a digital journal but our advice is that the best way to really get into it is to go old school and use a pen and paper! Let those words flow, be honest, and be present.
How to Begin Writing
One of the best ways to create a regular habit of mindful journaling is to incorporate it into your daily routine. Just a few minutes a day can make a huge difference. This simple yet effective practice is super easy to bring into your everyday life and is a great form of self-care.
- Find a quiet corner of your home, maybe you want to play a little music, pour yourself a cup of tea
- Grab your journal and a pen
- Pause for a moment, close your eyes, and take a few slow and deep breaths in and out. Allow yourself to settle into the space you’re in and to focus your mind on the present moment
- Get creative - allow yourself to flow with whatever comes to your mind
- Check-in with how you are - how is your body feeling? Where is your head at? What’s your mood like?
- As the thoughts come and go, it’s important to stay grounded in the present moment. As with any mindful practice, your mind will undoubtedly wander, the key here is, when you notice it drifting, to bring it back to the present moment. You can even write down where your mind drifted to - perhaps you notice a pattern?
Mindful Journaling Prompts
There are a number of different ways in which you can journal mindfully. You can use prompts to help you get in the zone such as words prompts, seasonal prompts, or prompts that help you tune into your senses; there are so many different ways to kick that mindful journaling muscle into gear!
Try some of these great prompts:
- Today I’d like to feel…
- When I feel uneasy these things always make me feel comforted…
- What am I grateful for today?
- What would you like the next season to bring?
The key is to pay attention - without judgement.
Gratitude journaling is another form of mindful journaling. Why not start your journaling practice by focusing on three things each day that you’re grateful for - beginning and ending your day in the same way. Simple things such as ‘I am grateful for this soothing cup of tea', 'I am grateful for a sunny day', ‘I am grateful that I am healthy and well enough to go for a walk’
Did you know, that regular gratitude journaling has actually been shown to have a 5% to 15% increase in how optimistic you are! Essentially, an attitude for gratitude actually makes us even more grateful and able to look on the bright side!
So, grab a cuppa, gently ease yourself into a little mindful writing and write your way to wellness.