Do you ever feel like life is one big game of Jenga with a million different delicate pieces that could topple over at any second? If so, don't sweat it, because you're definitely not alone. Life is often overwhelming and sometimes can feel like a never ending stream of curveballs, but fortunately, there's one simple habit that can help us find calm in the midst of our chaotic lives and brains that never seem to want to rest — and that’s daily journaling.
Getting your thoughts out of your head and down onto paper is like having a magic wand that will immediately reduce stress and help you gain clarity. Using a journal to brain dump all of your thoughts, plans and goals is like having a personal assistant that you can refer to at any time, rather than trying to juggle the 100 different things on your mind — work tasks, family obligations, personal goals — that are all scrambled together.
If you’re just getting started with journaling, you might not know where to begin, and that’s okay. In fact, at first, it’s helpful to try out a few different strategies until you find one that flows with your routine and works best for you. There's no right or wrong way to keep a journal, and it's not necessarily about being a good writer or following a strict format — just do whatever you have to do to get your thoughts down on paper, no matter the method.
Some people prefer to write in the morning in order to set intentions for the day, while others prefer to reflect on their day just before bedtime. It also doesn’t matter whether you write it in a physical journal or type up a few notes on a running document — what does matter is that you make it a consistent part of your daily routine. Missed a day? Don’t worry about, especially if you’re just starting this new habit! Just get back on track and try not to miss two or three days in a row, because that’s how what were once well-intentioned habits begin to disintegrate.
By being consistent and committing to a new daily practice, you’ll allow yourself to tap into your deeper thoughts and emotions, and start to recognize patterns. It might take some time, so be patient, and don’t worry about writing anything super profound right off the bat. In fact, by even just writing down your daily to-do list or priorities, you’ll still reap the benefits of journaling and organizing your thoughts. After a few weeks, you’ll likely begin to open up, notice patterns in your thinking and start to become more introspective. That’s because the real magic of journaling, comes from consistency — it's one thing to write in your journal every once in a while, but when you make it a daily habit, you’re bound to see some pretty amazing changes.
It’s also a great idea to re-read old entries, so make sure to jot down the date every time you write. Reading old posts is like being able to time travel — by looking back on your thoughts, stressors and goals from one month, six months or a year ago, you’ll be able to clearly see how much progress you’ve made in terms of personal growth, and also identify which areas may still need work. Plus, those things that once stressed you out now will seem like no biggie — remember that the next time you feel overwhelmed!
There will certainly be days where you don’t want to journal or you simply forget, so make it as easy as possible to stick to routine: Keep your notebook and a pen on your nightstand or front and center on your desk, and set a goal of writing at least one sentence a day. Chances are, once you open up the notebook, jot down the date and get one quick thought out, you’ll be in a flow state and want to keep going. Before you know it, you’ll have just overcome that aversion and have filled an entire page!
If you're new to journaling, it can feel daunting at first to put your thoughts and feelings down on paper. But remember, this is for you, and you alone. It's simply a way to express yourself and reflect on your life. Nobody will ever read it, so try to be completely open, honest and upfront with your thoughts. Keep your journal in a safe place and if you’re worried about family members finding it, kindly ask them to respect your privacy by never reading it if they do come across it.
The mental release that you’ll feel after journaling is like nothing else. By writing down all of the things that are clogging up your mind, you’ll be able to more rationally address each item, or shelve them for a later date. Often times, the things that stress us out are not addressable in the immediate moment. Journaling helps prioritize those few items that you should be focused on today, rather than trying to wrap your head around your entire month long to-do list at once.
Using calendars and categorizing your thoughts into buckets is another fantastic strategy for creating a daily journaling habit. Sometimes, you just want to write an open ended dairy-style entry, but other times, journaling a list of your goals, priorities or even just your daily to-do list is helpful to stay on track and get organized. In fact, Tidy Plan’s collection of printable daily planners are perfect for this — you can’t print them as needed, and reuse them as many times as you’d like, and as a bonus, they are super cute!
Getting into a habit of journaling will also help you tap into your creative side — you just have to let your thoughts flow and let your imagination to run wild! Journaling will help you to process emotions in a healthy way, leading to greater clarity and insight into patterns and tendencies in your personal life and relationships — in fact, if you are dreading having difficult conversation with a loved one in person, try expressing yourself in a journal, first. Writing down bullet points of your jumbled thoughts is a great way to sort through your emotions and get to the core of what you really want to say.
Journaling can be as simple or as complex as you want it to be — all you need is a pen and paper and five minutes of alone time. So the next time you're feeling overwhelmed or need a moment of calm, grab your journal (and maybe a tasty cup of tea, too!) and let it all out. You'll likely be surprised at the insights and clarity you gain, and how it can positively impact other areas of your life. With daily journaling, you can turn chaos into calm and navigate life's challenges with a little more ease.
Thanks for checking out The Deep Clean, Tidy Plan's blog full of tips and advice to help you declutter your mind and build good habits. We're all about self-care, productivity, organization, and are here to assist you on your personal growth journey to become your best self!