Juggling work and life, setting healthy boundaries and adjusting to a hybrid working environment is stressful. There, I said it. Post-pandemic life is stressful! And I know I'm not alone in feeling that.
What's really helped me is journaling. I know, when you hear the word journal, you probably think about your teenage diary. You know, the one with angsty thoughts and feelings scrawled in that's probably so well hidden you don't even know where it is.
The kind I'm talking about is a bit more structured.
That's the beauty of it, I suppose. Journaling can look and be however you want. Mine totally varies depending on my needs at the time, how I'm feeling, and where I am.
Something as simple as writing something down has a huge impact. Let's run through how.
Ever found it hard to articulate how you're feeling? Same. Often, I've found that comes from trying to hide my vulnerability.
But your journal is yours. Nobody else has to read it or even know it exists. Your journal is a safe space for you to express how you're feeling.
It can help manage anxiety, reduce stress, and help us cope with depression. Journaling even improves our cognitive function, counteracts the effects of stress, and allows us to understand ourselves better.
Plus, it helps you track your wellbeing and provides a space for you to reflect on patterns or triggers.
I'm telling you, the power of journaling really has been slept on!
What you need
As I said earlier, the beauty of a journal is that it's yours. All you need is something to write in/on – a word doc, notebook, your notes app, anything.
Personally, I like a dot-grid journal; to me, it's less distracting than lines and less daunting than a blank page.
Whatever it is, dedicate something to journal with. Create a space that's separate from your shopping lists and work documents.
- Don't put pressure on yourself to write in your journal every day. Make it easy, and you'll stick to it.
- Setting a routine is a great idea to help you get started, but you'll get the most out of journaling if you go with the flow.
- Write what you need to, when you need to. If you've had a stressful work meeting, or you're really feeling the struggles of commuting after so long at home, write about it in your journal. The sooner you can get those negative thoughts out of your head and onto paper, the better.
- Keep your journal where you know you'll reach for it. Bedside tables, desktops, living room – I carry mine in my bag.
Not a writer?
That's okay! It doesn't have to be Shakespeare-level, emotive writing. Plus, there are so many other ways to journal.
You could bullet point some key emotions and jot down what's driving those feelings.
You could paint, doodle, sketch. However you feel you want to express your feelings, is best: Because at the end of the day, it's for your benefit.
*It's worth mentioning that it doesn't have to all be negative, either. The thing I love most in my journal is my 'gratitude log', where I basically just write down the things I'm grateful for, whether that's getting a new job or seeing a cute dog on my walk to work. It sounds silly, but it's just as important to recognise the good things.
Let me guess, you've read this far and love the sound of journaling but have no idea where to start. Don't worry, I've got you.
I find it super helpful to have prompts when I journal; here are some of my favourites:
- What's delighted or inspired you today?
- Reasons I'm proud of myself.
- What's holding me back?
- What I'm still learning.
- Apologies owed.
- Looking forward.
- An olive branch.
You can interpret those however you wish. And, use the same prompt over and over. I can guarantee each time it will lead to a different outcome.
Let your mind take over and do whatever feels right for you.