Journaling for Self-Care
Journaling has many mental health benefits and can be an easy way to begin a self-care routine. The process can be as simple as writing down your thoughts in order to get them out of your head. By putting your thoughts down on paper, you reduce the need to dwell on persistent thoughts and you free your mind for other tasks.
There are many different way to use a journal and the process is completely up to you - there is no right or wrong way to journal. Journaling does not need to be formal in any way - you don’t need to use complete sentences, you don’t even need to be able to read the handwriting, you just need to allow yourself to put the pen to paper and dump your thoughts.
Journaling can help reduce anxiety, promote awareness, and regulate emotions.
Julia Cameron is an artist and writer and one of her bestselling books titled, The Artist's Way includes a journaling process that she calls Morning Pages. She describes them as “…three pages of longhand, stream of consciousness writing, done first thing in the morning. *There is no wrong way to do Morning Pages*– they are not high art. They are not even “writing.” They are about anything and everything that crosses your mind– and they are for your eyes only. Morning Pages provoke, clarify, comfort, cajole, prioritize and synchronize the day at hand. Do not over-think Morning Pages: just put three pages of anything on the page...and then do three more pages tomorrow.”
Daily Visual Journal
I have personally used a process I call Daily Visual Journal as part of my self-care routine. Since I am a visual artist I sometimes find it easier to draw or scribble my thoughts on paper in order to process what I’m thinking. Once I have an image created, I then write a brief self-reflection journal entry on the back of the paper. When I write on the back of the artwork I often discover that the image is revealing something that is relevant in my life. I always find the process relaxing, so even if my artwork is a scribble I know the time I spend focusing on the process will be beneficial.
Journal some Morning Pages as described by Julia Cameron:
- First thing in the morning when you wake up, write long hand in a notebook for 3 pages. Don’t stop, don’t edit your writing, just write anything and everything that comes to mind. Don’t read your Morning Pages after you’re done, just put it away until the next day. Then, do it again then next morning.
Try a visual journal
- Draw, paint, or scribble on a small sheet of paper or index card.
- On the back of your drawing, put the date at the top and write about how you feel about the image you created or what the image brings to mind. There is no right or wrong way to do this, just allow yourself to write down whatever comes to mind.
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