There are hundreds of articles on the internet about the benefits of journaling so I’m not going to start listing them here. There are so many benefits, I’m not sure why everyone doesn’t buy a nice leather journal, sharpen their pencil and get writing!
Suffice to say that journaling is about reflection in its rawest sense – it’s an unedited stream of consciousness that no one else ever needs to read. And, it’s all the more powerful for it.
People have been keeping journals for thousands of years in one form or another. Journaling has been shown to lower stress and be beneficial to your overall physical as well as mental health.
I’ve kept a journal off and on for many years, but only in the last year or so have I written in it every single day. It has helped me in an abundance of ways; not least in my efforts to be mindful.
Fairly recently I started adding three new elements to my daily entry and have found them to be therapeutic in terms of ensuring I don’t get hung up on all the stressful, or difficult things I face on a daily basis. Knowing I will later in the day be required to write these three entries makes me mindful throughout the day, rather than rushing helter-skelter from one challenge to the next. Someone once said, “stop and smell the roses” – pausing every now and then throughout the day to be mindful does wonders for not only stress levels but for creativity too. Taking time to be thankful in a formal practice manner has huge benefits personally and with professional productivity.
Here are my three daily mindfulness journal entries.
CALM – when was I truly calm today? The first few evenings you come to this, you may realize you can’t recall ever being calm during the day. This is a wake-up call to carve a minute or two out of your busyness and make time for yourself – take time to just be, not do. This can be as easy as stopping at a coffee shop and just having a quiet coffee without checking your emails, or making notes. Doing nothing and smelling the roses is a powerful thing.
GRATEFUL – what were you truly grateful for today? When we start to think about this, we begin to realize what is truly important to us. Maybe you’re grateful you got to talk to your son, daughter, or grandchild? Maybe you were nearly in a car accident and the near miss made you grateful to be alive? Perhaps you got the big sale you were after, or you got a promotion? Or perhaps it was as simple as the sun shining on your face as you walked along the street. Write it down, however small. We have a lot to be grateful for, but often the good stuff gets swept away by the rest of the hassle we go through daily.
3 HIGHLIGHTS – what three things happened today that really pleased you? What made you smile, what gave you a good feeling? What made your day? Writing down what went well during the day, prevents you from dwelling on what didn’t. Too often we feel the world is against us as the stressful things in our life seem to overshadow the good things. As with CALM, this may be tough for the first few days until you get used to recognizing the highlights.
A great exercise, if you have children or grandchildren, is to ask them what their highlights of the day were. You may be surprised at how simple their highlights are, but also how powerful, we can learn a great deal seeing the world through a child’s eyes.