Note to Self: Incorporating Journaling Into Your Daily Routine
By: Eddie Archer, LMFT
The New Year is a chance to evaluate our lives and to implement practices that better align with the life we desire. Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist, Eddie Archer, shares why and how you should make journaling a part of your daily rhythms this year.
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New year, new habits! At least that’s what many of us aspire to when the new year begins. There are many practices that can optimize our health and wellbeing like eating healthy and exercising. But is there a habit worth starting that can significantly impact your physical and mental health, as well as your productivity? The answer is yes!
Journaling has been associated with many health benefits – from lowering blood pressure and improving overall psychological wellbeing to decreasing symptoms of anxiety and depression and reduced stress-related visits to the doctor (Sutton, 2018). But often, it can be difficult determining how exactly to approach this practice, especially as an adult (starting off with a “Dear Diary” might seem silly).
If you want to develop the skill of journaling and experience its benefits, here are four ways to make journaling a lasting habit!
Write It Down
Humans are not good at solving problems internally, just in our heads. We often have to externalize problems and see them in a concrete way in order to find solutions. Instead of going about your day juggling all your tasks, thoughts, and feelings, set aside some time to write them down somewhere. This will help free up headspace and allow you to refer back as needed.
Keep it Simple
Sometimes, we overthink journaling. Journaling is not meant to be scary or complicated. Simply find a notebook and pen that you like, or grab your computer/digital device and begin writing down what comes to mind at that moment. Doing this will help clear your mind, give you better insight, and promote mental rest. All you have to do is pick a time that works best for you, whether that’s in the morning, during lunch, or before bed (ideally when you will be in the right headspace and environment for reflection), and let your thoughts flow.
Build On an Existing Habit
A successful way to develop a new habit is to pair it with a current habit. Tie journaling to something else you already do each day so that association can help make journaling a part of your routine. My cue is opening my computer at the beginning of the day, which automatically reminds me to open my journaling app. Check out the book Atomic Habits by James Clear to learn more about this concept of cueing!
Use A Journaling App
Note taking apps like Roam Research, Obsidian or RemNote allow you to organize entries similar to networked thinking. According to NessLabs, this is a way of problem-solving that enables you to see the connections between your thoughts to help you find solutions. For example, if I found myself upset with my #wife and entered it in my journal, all I have to do is click on the “#wife”, and my journal will pull up every past entry that proves my wife is an angel and that I am probably at fault.
Types of Journaling
There is no one approach to journaling, but the best type of journaling is the one you enjoy and can stick with long term. Below are some examples of journaling:
This follows a Three-Act Structure similar to a movie or book. In Act One, write out what you (the character) want to achieve or accomplish. In Act Two, write out the conflict you face. What obstacles are currently in the way of you achieving what you desire? In Act Three, write out and embrace the new version of yourself that you expect to become after you overcome your challenge.
This is a handwritten or drawn type of journaling that uses visual creativity like bullet journaling for example. This is a fun and visually pleasing way to organize your thoughts and increase your productivity.
Free Flow of Thought
This is a type of journaling without prompts where you just write whatever comes to mind. This is great for processing deep emotions or just helping to clear your mind.
This is a great option for individuals who want to do more journaling but need some assistance with what to write. Journals with built-in prompts guide your writing and provide structure to journaling. Some examples include gratitude journals, prayer journals, and the 5-Year Journal.
As the New Year approaches, consider taking some time to reflect and write down what happened this year and what you’d like to do differently to set yourself up for success.
Remember that as we make plans, the Lord will ultimately direct our steps, because He cares about every detail of our lives (Psalm 37:23). Utilize one the journaling types listed above to get you started in setting your goals and plans, and then, keep it going! I’m rooting for you.
Edvardo (Eddie) Archer is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist who practices out of Fort Lauderdale, FL. He is passionate about building bridges that allow families and individuals to thrive and not be bullied by their circumstances. Eddie has served as a guest speaker at various CCA student and parent events. You can learn more about him and the work he does in the community both in person and virtually at APFamilyCounseling.com.
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