Are you mindful in your everyday life? If not, you may find that mindful journaling can help you begin to know yourself a little better and to pay more attention to the things – and people and memories around you – as you go about your day.
Being mindful is great for not only your emotional and mental health but your physical health as well.
It is not uncommon to go through each day, not realizing what you are doing, as if you are using cruise control with blinders on. That’s the opposite of being mindful!
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What is Mindful Journaling?
Being more mindful has a learning curve, and you might find a bullet journal style of planner may help with mindful journaling to get in touch with yourself through your writing and becoming more mindful.
To help define mindful journaling a little better, it’s like yoga but without the physical activity. Brain yoga!
Boiled down to it’s most simple terms – it’s paying attention.
It’s a process of focusing inwardly to reduce the chaos that bombards our minds 24/7. It helps you get into a quiet, calming place and reduces the anxiety that comes from being blasted with negativity all the time.
It’s also a powerful tool for clearing your mind. It’s how you learn to focus on yourself and it’s how you learn who you are in a meditative manner.
On the surface, we think we know who we are but mindful journaling helps us get to know ourselves on another level.
As an aside – I talk about braindumps as a way to clear your mind. Mindful journaling is a deep personal clearing while the act of braindumps is to clear the surface jumble of tasks and ideas swirling around in your brain.
Being mindful means being present in your own life. (I know – that sounds deep!)
It’s taking deliberate time to focus on how you feel, what’s around you, and what is happening in your life. It’s intentional, and it’s helpful in so many ways.
Being mindful to the details helps you learn how to appreciate the little things in life. It helps you be more present and attentive to what’s going on around you.
It helps you learn how to better react to situations as you connect with yourself with greater understanding and self-awareness, and it helps you clear your mind of so much stress and disquiet.
Supplies for Mindful Journaling
This will be the easiest paragraph to write!
A pen. Or even a pencil.
Actually, I journal in a cheap little notebook with a black Flair pen. I have less than $5 tied up in it. Don’t add stress by trying to find the ‘perfect pen’ and the ‘perfect journal’. It won’t help your writing. Once you get the flow of things and find it helps, then buy something pretty. Or not.
The Focus of Mindful Journaling is Being Intentional
It won’t come easily to you at first. It takes practice!
You might not sit down and find yourself able to write mindful thoughts right away. You might struggle for a few days or weeks until you grow accustomed to this type of soulful writing.
Writing and examining your thoughts and feelings opens your mind to be able to free them from the clutter and tangle of your mind.
I won’t lie to you – it’s not easy. You may sit down to write and find yourself staring at a blank sheet.
You might be confused or unsure what to write. Take your time learning how to be more mindful in your daily life by writing in your journal daily.
This takes practice. You won’t be perfect right out of the gate. But the more you do it the better you become at it and the easier it gets.
I do want to point out that this type of mindful journaling is old-school – pen and paper. There is a connection between the brain and the pen that is deeper than using an electronic method.
What Do I Write About?
This is your journal and it can be deeply personal. Mindful journaling isn’t meant to be a traditional diary but you can certainly record your thoughts and feelings – and analyze your reactions and how you wish you may have reacted! – it’s YOURS.
If you’re having trouble ‘getting in the zone’ to start writing, close your eyes and breathe deeply. Picture yourself doing the act of writing. Visualizing yourself writing can get your mind over the hump of self-doubt.
As you begin paying more attention you may hear someone make statements that you may want to explore in more detail. Write those down as they come to you.
Don’t limit yourself to three or four lines for writing. Make sure you have lots of space!
Even if you don’t think of yourself as artistic, feel free to doodle and draw in your mindfulness journal. Many times the words may not come to you but in creating a visual you can free your mind in a new direction! You may even discover a hidden talent.
Here’s a great tip: if you use the bullet journal style of notebook, be sure to make a table of contents at the front and number the pages as you go. That way you can add entries (and their page numbers ) that you want to remember in the table of contents for easy revisiting!
You might like this post: 5 Planners Guaranteed to Skyrocket Your Productivity
Try Using Prompts
Let’s banish that blank page!
Using simple writing prompts can get your brain into writing mode easily and stretch your thinking. As time goes on, you’ll find that you’ll start paying more attention during your day because you’re changing your thinking.
- What am I grateful for today?
- How do I want to be remembered?
- What can I do today to make things easier for someone else?
- How can I show kindness in the face of adversity?
Rather than using the same prompts, mix it up a bit.
You can keep a collection of prompts in your bullet journal so you always have a supply to pull from. As time goes on and you relax into mindful journaling you’ll find you may no longer need prompts at all.
It’s Okay if it’s Messy – Actually, it’s Awesome
The idea of a mindfulness journal seems so put together and clean, but that isn’t reality.
A mindfulness journal is messy because your mind is messy. You can’t write down how you feel and what you feel in a nice and tidy manner.
Your mind is a jumbled mess of thoughts, feelings, and contradictions. Your journal is going to reflect that jumbled mess of thoughts and feelings.
Don’t worry about how disorganized and unkempt it is. The act of writing in your journal will organize it in your brain. It’s just a matter of getting it out onto paper.
Don’t focus on clean thoughts and writing. Focus on what you feel. You’re creating a stress-reducing habit so let it flow.
You don’t need to meet the expectations of anyone. Period.
Done is better than perfect. (That’s actually my screensaver!)
You Must Be Honest With Yourself
One thing you should remember about mindful journaling is that it’s all about honesty – being honest with yourself.
This kind of journal will not work if you are not honest. You cannot sugarcoat how you feel, what you’re thinking, or what you’re going through.
Since nobody should read the journal but you, you don’t have to hide your real emotions or feelings in an attempt to appear a certain way. Feel free to be open and free with the journal.
The purpose of mindful journaling is to help you clear your mind.
If you’re spending so much time organizing your thoughts and be untruthful with yourself, you’re not being honest about how you feel and why you feel that way.
Now is the time to focus on doing things that work for you in terms of being honest with yourself. It won’t be easy to be this raw with yourself right away, but you will get better with it as your progress with your journaling.
Getting a little personal here, but I’ve been having a bit of depression lately. We’ve got some big decisions to make in the next two months that will turn our lives upside down (again!) and I’m feeling a lot of heaviness.
I’m having to take a hard look at what we’re doing and be honest with myself. I tend to paint a rosy picture in my head and consequences be darned. It’s a little raw right now for me.
Don’t Forget to Find the Joy
Your mind might not be filled with happy thoughts every day, but it is helpful to include some happy thoughts each day. The prompts I mentioned can help with that.
It is not uncommon to have some days where you really have to try to find the good in your day, but it’s there if you know where to look. Even if 90% of your journal on one particular day is negative, find one good thing to be hopeful and optimistic about.
Just remember that you aren’t required to write in the evening! You’ll see what I mean below 🙂
Whether you’re just happy about having hot water and a shower when you get home from work or you’re happy you have a family, write it down. You can do it, and you can make it easier on yourself if you are honest.
Mindful Journaling is Great for Stress Relief
Being mindful is good for your mind and your soul. It’s good for your body, too.
You can release your stress when you use your mindfulness journal each day. Your body tenses when you go through difficult times or feel stressed.
When you write those things down and get them out of your mind, you’re able to clear the stress and tension from your body.
Take the time to breathe deeply to open your mind and relax. Deep breathing can release stress and help you get centered and prepared to begin. Repeat every time you feel yourself tensing or your thoughts wandering.
By the way, it’s okay for your thoughts to wander as long as they come back to the task at hand!
Being mindful takes time to learn. You won’t be perfect the first day, but it’s all right to mess up and learn as you go.
How to Make Sure You Do It
I don’t know if anyone reading this is like me but I think there may be some 🙂
If it isn’t scheduled it doesn’t happen – and sometimes it doesn’t happen even if it IS scheduled!
It’s a great idea to create a routine that sends signals to your brain that it’s time to write in your journal. Maybe sit down with a cup of herbal tea in the evening – brewing the tea can become that mental trigger that your brain recognizes and a signal to change gears.
If you do yoga or pilates, try mindful journaling after your class when you’re very relaxed.
Doing it at the same time every day rewrites your brain – it basically etches it into your wiring (not very scientific, I know!).
Think of it this way: your brain is the most sophisticated hard drive ever created. You CAN rewrite and change it with your thoughts, deeds, and habits.
Try Doing it This Time of Day
Some people pray while others meditate. Some people do it in the morning and others at night. How we choose to connect with our beliefs and spirituality is a deeply personal decision.
I’d like to encourage you to try mindful journaling in the morning.
We generally wake up in a more optimistic mood with our minds the clearest they’ll be all day. We’ve just had a brain reboot and things may be looking good. Nothing has been written on our brain’s hard drive yet.
If we sit outside in the early morning we can hear the sounds of birds or waves if we’re near the beach. It’s the smell of the air after a spring rain or the abject quiet while it snows.
It’s peaceful. It’s tranquil. It’s the perfect time to begin setting the tone for the day.
Mindful journaling first thing in the morning is like creating your day before it even starts. Rather than letting your day shape your thoughts and actions, you can get a jump on manifesting your day the way YOU want it to be!
Don’t Do it This Time of Day if You Can Help it
Conventional wisdom might suggest that you leave your journal on your nightstand and do your writing before bedtime.
I’d like to recommend that you don’t do that if you can help it at all. If it’s the ONLY time you can do it, feel free to ignore me. Getting it done is more important.
Writing in your journal can bring up feelings that might make falling asleep difficult. If your writing rehashes a situation that you’re worried about it can cause a restless night.
Writing at night can tend to pull all the negativity of the day into our entries. Since mindful journaling is about paying attention to the small details, writing at night can cause us to focus on the negative.
I tend to dream about what I write when I do it later in the evening and I generally wake up thinking about what was on my mind as I was falling asleep. That’s THREE times for potential upset. I hate it when I let things like that live rent-free in my head!
Give yourself some buffer time to ensure a restful night and a clear good morning.
Make it a Habit
An easy way to track how well you’re progressing is to use a simple habit planner.
Check off each day as you do it. If you miss a day, don’t worry! Nobody is keeping track except you – and it’s just a tool to help you become more consistent. You won’t be graded on it!
Everyone starts as a novice when it comes to being mindful (and journaling), but you can make it a habit and learn to apply it to your life each day. Experiment with the times that work best for you.
A journal is a wonderful way to start making positive changes in your life.
Tell me what you think of this idea – do you already journal?