Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Take a Break: Start a Journal

Struggling with next steps I needed to take in my career, a board member and friend, Cris, told me to set aside some time and “just write.” I bought a notebook, found a pen I liked, and parked it on my nightstand. I spent about a week writing at the same every day for about 20 minutes. I was amazed how much it helped.

I didn’t assign myself anything to write, or even a format. Sometimes I wrote a poem, others an endless stream of words. I think I might have even doodled some. While I’ve tried doing something similar on the computer, I seem to do best when I use a pen and paper. Ultimately, I’ve found that when I’m obsessing about something-it helps to just write.

I’m far from alone in finding journaling helpful. As Jennifer Moon wrote, A journal is a friend that is always there and is always a comfort. In bad moments I write, and usually end up feeling better. It reflects back to me things that I can learn about my world and myself. It represents a private space in my life, a beautiful solitude, the moments before I go to sleep just to stop and note what 'there' is about the day or about my life at the time. I think that it has enabled me to feel deeper and more established as a person, more in control and more trusting of life.

There is a growing body of research that shows that journaling is healing. It helps to clear your mind, encourages mindfulness, gets the creativity juices flowing, plus serves the practical purpose of letting you know a year from now what you were thinking and doing on this date.

Writing about traumatic, stressful or emotional events has been found to result in improvements in both physical and psychological health, in people with chronic and life threatening diseases as well as the general population. The journal Advances in Psychiatric Treatment has a good review article on this topic Emotional and Physical Health Benefits of Expressive Writing, by Karen A. Baikie and Kay Wilheim.

Unless you feel compelled to use something more elaborate, a notebook or computer works just fine for journal writing. If you want to make your own journal, check out “How to make a hardcover min art journal."
So some basic journaling tips
• Try to write daily . Twenty minutes is recommended, but do what you can do
• This is private. You can share if you want, but keeping it to yourself helps to free you to write what you think and feel.
• Don’t worry about grammar, spelling, formatting etc. Just get it down.
• If you feel like drawing instead of writing that’s fine.
• There are a variety of types of journals-diaries; memoirs; travel logs; history and events; or even scrap booking. Do what feels right for you.
• Writing utensils and the journal itself are up to you. Felt tip pens, markers, pens, pencils and so forth all worth. If you are so inclined, taping and pasting items in your journal is just fine.

For more tips on journaling check, as well as prompts to inspire you to write, check out the following
Scribe Time Journal Writing Tips

Women’s Memoirs: Blog about journaling and writing memoirs

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