With new self-care practices popping up left, right, and center, it’s normal to be unsure of where to start. In addition to the overwhelming amount of options, the high price tag often gatekeeping wellness, and an unrealistic amount of time required to commit, it can seem nearly impossible to start truly taking care of yourself.
But don’t give up just yet.
My 10-year-old self was all about keeping a diary. I would run home after a day at school and dish with my trusted journal. It was a safe space for me to write out my frustrations, even if they were only about having to eat my mum’s trusted lasagna again.
As I entered my teens and early 20’s, my life became increasingly complex, yet I never turned to my journal to work through my overwhelm, stresses, and anxieties. Instead, I busied myself. I started to ignore my internal indicators signaling that something was wrong and opted to lock them up, deep inside. I would insist that things were fine. But, indeed, they were not.
That is, until I experienced a life-shattering panic attack at 35,000 feet, which resulted in a 38-hour drive across the country. Upon arriving home, I realized I could no longer ignore my mental health. I realized I had to face what I was going through and work through it once and for all.
That’s when I found journaling again. Although the format remained the same (minus the ‘Dear Diary’ opening), I was no longer venting about the homework my 6th-grade teacher had assigned that day. Instead, I was using my pen and paper as a tool to come face to face with the anxiety that was riddling me. I used my time with my journal as an opportunity to unearth the fears that were controlling my life.
Journaling became the tool that would piece my life together after everything fell apart. And the best part? It’s free, simple, can be done in as little as six minutes, and comes with numerous benefits.
Here are some of my favorite benefits of journaling:
Clarifying your thoughts and feelings —
Thoughts, amiright? We can all relate one way or another to unwanted thoughts circling around. On top of those thoughts, we often experience unwanted feelings… and those can be a lot. Journaling helps us make sense of the thoughts we’re thinking and the feelings we’re feeling.
Getting to know yourself better —
You ask those around you how they’re doing constantly, but when was the last time you asked yourself the same? At times, it can feel like you have no idea who you are. Journaling can be a great tool to get to know yourself. Naturally, understanding yourself a bit better (or a whole lot) will improve your overall quality of life.
Reducing stress —
Humans are inherently stressed. When you turn to journaling to explore your emotions, you help to release their intensity — and a stress-free life is definitely something worth pursuing.
Resolving interpersonal conflicts —
People are great but people can also be not-so-great sometimes. Journaling can help. When you write about misunderstandings you have with others rather than stewing about with it, you can help yourself understand another’s point of view. Whether you’re looking to quiet loud thoughts, get to know yourself better, reduce stress, or resolve conflicts, journaling can be a great and simple tool to start using in your life.
If you’re unsure of where to start, here are some prompts to get that steamy journaling sesh started:
“How am I doing?”
It’s time you started asking yourself to reflect on how you — really — are doing. When answering, allow yourself to be honest. It might not be easy to hear at first, but, I promise, it will be worth it.
“What am I grateful for?”
For the times where facing how you are doing is a bit too much, another great starting point is focusing on what you’re grateful for. Plus, it’s a beautiful way to start and end your day!
“I currently feel…”
There are times where answering a question doesn’t get the juices flowing. In times like that, try zoning in on how you feel right now. By exploring how you feel through your journal, you can help yourself make sense of it.
Regardless of the experience you have with journaling or the prompts you use to get started, journaling can be a simple tool that can transform your wellbeing for the better. Additionally, it can allow you to better understand yourself and cut out the noise as you navigate the rest of the wellness world.
What’s something you need to journal about right now?
Sophie Gray is the founder of DiveThru, a guided journaling app that helps you DiveThru what you go thru. She works with mental health professionals to create guided journaling exercises that help you take charge of your mental wellbeing. Sophie also hosts the SophieThinksThoughts podcast and reaches an audience of 400,000 across her social media channels. She has been named Greatist’s 100 Most Influential People in Health & Wellness three years in a row and her work has been featured in Cosmopolitan, People, Refinery29, Marie Claire, and Self, amongst many others.