I first started journalling when I was 15. I was on my way to France on a 4 month exchange trip and my mum gave me a big, empty notebook that she had covered herself. It was beautiful. I stashed some photos of friends in there and family had written words of encouragement at the front of the book. It was great. I started writing on the plane, just to pass the time and also because I was so excited that I needed to do something with the energy. Then each day on my exchange, I wrote. I wrote through the hard times (which there were alot of), I wrote to try and process what I was going through, I wrote when I felt lonely, I wrote when I felt happy – each day documented my experience. It is now a book that I look back on with such fondness and with each entry I am transported back to a really special time and place.
When I got back from my trip, I kept journalling. I didn’t realise at the time, but it actually helped me so much through my teenage years. Being a teenager is HARD, especially when I had just come back from this amazing overseas experience, felt so out of depth with my friends and didn’t really have anyone around me who could relate. My diary was my constant companion. It holds secrets to this day of things that I thought, did and would never think or do again.
And now – fast forward a decade and I am still journalling. I face different challenges now – I am a mama, a wife, an entrepreneur, a lady boss….I’m still just riding this wave called life, trying to figure it all out. It hasn’t gotten any clearer or easier. But journalling really helps me to process things. Journalling helps me to process through all the thoughts that bounce around in my head. If those thoughts don’t have a place to go, they’ll just keep bouncing around, collecting more thoughts, distracting me and leading me towards overwhelm.
I truly believe that journalling is the BEST HABIT anyone could ever cultivate. We naturally internalise a lot of our day to day experiences. And whilst our brain has a way of working through that while we sleep (thanks crazy dreams!), we can achieve far more peace if we can work through all of the gunk that is in our heads. Also, by processing it on paper, we are able to move from having a particular perspective to being able to look at the situation in a different way. I can’t tell you the amount of times I have started writing thinking one thing and questioning everything to ending up with a resolution at the end. Journalling truly is a great way to process problems and find solutions.
So how can you cultivate this habit for yourself?
Firstly I recommend getting a really beautiful notebook. The more precious and beautiful, the more motivated you will be to want to write in it. This will be a tome that will hold all of your amazing thoughts and ideas, it needs to be precious and sacred. Also get a really great pen. A writer must have the best tools. So get a pen that is easy to write with and that you could write for ages with.
Next, think about what time of day would suit you to journal. I find that just before bed is best because you are able to get out everything that is on your mind (a download) and then drift off to a peaceful sleep. But others find that mornings are better for them, so they can set themselves up for a great day ahead. Whatever your rhythm is, chose what best suits you.
Then just get to it. Don’t beat yourself up if you miss a day or two. Take each day as it comes. But watch how it helps you to organise your mind and bring you a little bit of inner peace.
A habit takes 66 days to become fully ingrained in our psyches. So give yourself time, create the space, get the right tools and commit to success. Stick with it because trust me – it’s totally worth it!