Two Super Simple Ways to Start Journaling
How do you start journaling when you’ve never journaled before?
That’s a question that many caregivers ask themselves. But have no fear, starting a journaling practice is quite simple. You just need paper (or a tablet) and a pen (or your typing fingers)!
But the one thing that trips some people up is the writing piece. You might not feel comfortable just sitting down to a blank piece of paper or an empty computer screen. That's okay, and it’s completely normal.
The benefits that you achieve from your journaling such as being able to manage your stress before your stress manages you, getting in touch with your inner feelings or working out any problems (otherwise known as opportunities 😊) in writing and having the opportunity to explore your caregiving journey in my opinion override any difficulties you have in getting started.
Journaling requires practice. As with anything else, the more you do it, the stronger that muscle becomes and the easier it is to do. Which is another way of saying that it’s something you should do regularly to gain the most benefits.
It’s important that you know that there are no right or wrong ways to journal because your journaling is personal and for you. What matters is what you get from it. There are tons of ways you can use a journal, depending upon your end goal. Among other things, you can use journaling to:
Clarify your goals
Increase your creativity
Develop your self-care practice
Look closely at your journey as a caregiver
Figure out your stress triggers
Show your gratitude
But for now, let’s concentrate on getting started. First, I’ll give you two easy ways to start journaling. Then, I’ll dive a little bit deeper into some of the things you can write in your journal.
How to Start Journaling
The two easy ways to journal revolve around the times of day that are the easiest for most people to write in their journal - in the morning and in the evening.
Plan Your Day (Morning Routine)
The first thing to decide is when you want to journal. Most people either journal first thing in the morning or in the evening after the day is done.
Let’s talk about using your journal to plan your day. If you’re using it in the morning, then you can view your journal as a daily planner and motivator. An easy exercise to try is determining three daily goals, write about them, and then make them happen as you go about your day.
What does morning goal setting do for you?
It gets the creative juices flowing and puts you in a positive and focused mindset.
Here are some questions that you can ask to get yourself going:
What is the number 1 thing that I must accomplish today?
What will happen if I do not accomplish my goal?
What is my plan for accomplishing this goal?
Who (if anyone) do I need to reach out to for assistance accomplishing my goal?
You can ask yourself those same questions for each successive goal.
Find some quiet time first thing in the morning to get your goals decided. It’s also important to keep in mind that these goals don’t have to be anything extraordinary or super complicated, simple goals such as: feed the fish on time today or remind mom to take her medicine at 9 are perfectly fine. It’s all about what matters most to you and what you hope to achieve. And ticking items off your list motivates you to achieve more.
Assess Your Day (Evening Routine)
Some people find it easier to use their journal as a means of review. If that sounds like you, try re-caping your day by writing down three things that went well during the day. Or three significant things that happened during the day or just a quick paragraph about how your day went. Whichever way you decide to go, this can help you to process the day’s events and give you a head start on thinking about any goals you may have for the next day.
If you’re feeling super ambitious, consider taking 10 minutes to journal in both the morning and the evening. That way you’ll get a completely well rounded picture of how each day unfolds and you’ll increase your goal planning power.
What Should I Journal About?
Now that you know the two simple ways to journal, let’s look a little closer at a few easy ways to develop your journaling habit. While this might seem overwhelming, I prefer to think of it as exciting. Your journal provides you with a wide array of opportunities to learn and grow.
Remember, there’s no right or wrong way to journal. Feel free to give some of these ideas a try and then switch them up if you need more inspiration.
One of the things that I love about journaling is that it allows you to explore your dreams. Maybe your dream encompasses a big goal such as losing 25 pounds. You can take that overall goal and break it down into actionable steps you can take each day to make it happen. Keep yourself on track and accountable by checking in daily and adjusting your plan accordingly if need be.
Take Note of Your Experiences
Another way of using your journal is probably what you originally thought of when started reading this post. You can use your journal to write down your experiences such as the highs and lows of your caregiver journey.
For instance, you might write about the caregiving strategies and techniques you’ve used that have worked well for you and your loved one.
Or you might decide to write about the day that you spent with your loved one and how spending time together strengthens the relationship.
As you explore your caregiving journey you can use your journal to think about the approach to caregiving you wish to take as time goes on. Doing this can help you gain insight.
Are you like me and are a fan of inspirational quotes? Well, your journal provides the perfect opportunity to collect those quotes that touch your soul. You can have quotes related to areas where you need motivation or just ones that strike your fancy.
Besides just writing your favorite quotes in your journal, you can use them as writing prompts where you explore their importance and the effect that they do or can have on your life.
When you’re having a day and need a self-confidence boost, use your journal to reflect on a time when you achieved a goal, were super proud of yourself or were able to help someone else. Using your journal in this way can remind you of your power and how capable you are.
Expressions Of Gratitude
If none of these other ideas are appealing, consider using your journal to express gratitude for all the good things that are happening in your life. This is one of the most popular ways of journaling and that’s because it provides powerful results.
No matter who you are, or what’s going on in life, everyone has something to be grateful for. Even when times are tough, writing down three things you are grateful for each day can dramatically change your perspective and lift your mood.
Hopefully these ideas have gotten your creative juices flowing. Give some of them a try and feel free to brainstorm some of your own. Don’t be afraid to dig deep into your emotions when you’re journaling to discover what want to get out of your journaling experience and your life. You can do it because it’s all about Making Time.
How are you going to start your journaling practice? Let me know in the comments section.
Cassandra Martin-Himmons, LMSW is a stress management coach and content creator who believes in empowering her clients to help them manage their stress and increase their self-care. In her spare time she enjoys papercrafting, hand embroidery and travel. Connect with her on Facebook, Instagram or YouTube.