Although we often hear that journaling is such an effective exercise, how many of us actually carve out time to be intentional with it? I was in the habit of journaling this summer but I stopped when the school year started, as I felt I was too busy to make the time for it. I recently started seeing a therapist, and this week, my counselor suggested that I take some time to write again. She gave me a journaling assignment to do, and I’d like to share it with you all, in addition to a few other journaling exercises I like to practice.

Exercise #1: Unleashing the power of your fears & the uncertainty.

This is the exercise that my counselor suggested. It is helpful if you are struggling with the uncertainty of life, or perhaps you have anxiety.

In this exercise, you will make two lists:

  • A list of the fears you have for yourself;
  • A list of unanswered questions in your life.

Write down as many as you can think of, and even write down the things that are unbearable to put on paper.

  • For example, a fear of mine that I wrote down is, “I fear I will not be a good mother because I am too busy;” and a question I wrote for myself is, “When is the right time to have a baby?”

Just writing these phrases down on paper can help sort out the clutter in our minds. Then, take a moment to honor what you have written down. Recognize that these questions don’t have to be answered right now, and that these fears are holding power over us.

Why it works?

Often times, writing enables us to sift through our own biases, self-destructive patterns, and work through common themes in our lives. Once we acknowledge the power that our thoughts hold over us, there is nothing stopping us from diving into these fears and doing the work. We need to give ourselves the permission to live a happy life, regardless if we don’t have it all figured out right in this moment.

Exercise #2: Gratitude statements

This exercise is super simple (and you guys know that I’m all about simplicity!) Every day, I like to write a list of ten little things that I am grateful for, and write it into a gratitude statement. But, there’s a catch. I don’t want you to write down the typical things that you are thankful for, such as your family and friends. I want you to write down ten simple things.

A gratitude statement could look like this:

  • I am grateful for the cinnamon latte I had this morning.
  • I am grateful that my friend and I are meeting up tonight.
  • I am grateful for the burst of energy I have this morning.

Why it works?

Practicing gratitude rewires our brain to find the beauty in the every day, instead of focusing on the negatives. When we find the time to be intentional about appreciating the small joys in our lives, we feel more at peace. As Rachel Hollis states in her book, Girl Wash Your Face, “It is impossible to be grateful and anxious at the same time.”

Exercise #3: Purge your thoughts

I think that we often don’t like to write because we don’t necessarily know what to write about. But sometimes, we don’t have to have a plan when we start writing, and we don’t have to know what we are going to write about.

Set a timer for ten minutes. In that ten minutes, write as much as you can, about ANYTHING and EVERYTHING that comes to your mind. There are no rules and no limits.

Why it works?

Putting the pen to paper enables us to find connections that the mind cannot connect. Again, we are often not aware of our own common thinking patterns and themes. Free-writing, or “purging” our thoughts in a journal can help unleash some of this uncertainty. Writing can help us work though some of our own questions and fears.

 

Do you journal? Leave me your thoughts in the comment section!