I’ve journaled for a very long time. Yet a year ago, I knew I was about to enter something brand new, something so mind-blowing, I had no idea what I was about to experience.

Remember a year ago this month? We started hearing more about this thing called Coronavirus. As the days passed and the news grew worse, the concept of lockdown was being circulated throughout the internet.

By the middle of March, the world came to a screeching halt. And our lives forever changed.

I’d already had a practice of getting up at 5am, meditating, and writing in my journal for a bit before doing a few yoga stretches and starting my day. Even though the world stayed home and I had nowhere to be, I kept with my routine. I switched up my journaling routine just a bit, giving myself an assignment. Every morning, I’d write down one thing that happened the day before and one feeling I had about life at that moment.

Now one year later, looking back, I see my growth. I also see how dedicated I was and how I stayed on track for my self-care routine.

I knew immediately that self-care was the only thing that would pull me through. I was right.

There’s a saying about meditation:

If you don’t have 10 minutes to spare to meditate today, do it for 20 minutes.

I feel the same applies to journaling.

If you don’t have a chance to journal a page today, journal two instead.

Why journal?

Journaling is the simple act of writing regularly with a purpose in mind. Of course, you don’t have to be a writer to journal, it’s an activity anyone and everyone should consider.

Need some ideas on what type of journal to start? I have 17 of them here.

As a writer, it’s a way to get my brain going in the morning. It gives me a chance to explore writing prompts, to track my intentions, to list what I’m grateful for, and to explore things going on in my life.

For non-writers, it can record daily events, help reduce stress, encourage problem-solving, or simply be a daily to-do list.

Gratitude journaling is one of my favorites – it’s a skill I learned from Tony Robbins over two decades ago. It allows you to take stock of the positive things in your life. And right now, in the midst of chaos, I think that’s a very good way to start each and every day. Every morning, write down three things you’re grateful for. Looking back over the past few weeks in my own journal, I’ve written:

  • I’m grateful for the ability to walk by the river every morning, to take in the beautiful blue sky and the raging river below.
  • I’m grateful for a warm mug of tea on a cold, dark winter morning.
  • I’m grateful for having my sister in my life, and our ability to chat even with just a simple text.

These don’t have to be complicated. You can do simple sentences like above, or get detailed and write an entire journal page.

Journaling is about you … no one else. Find a safe place to store them, and keep them safe and away from prying eyes. No one will read this – this is all for you.

The Benefits of Journaling

Think of journaling as a way to help you deal with everything going on in your life. It can help you get your negative talk out on the page, help you de-stress by releasing what you’ve kept deep inside. It can help you solve problems, and move forward in an even bigger way.

You don’t have to be good at journaling. It comes with time.

But you do have to write – no typing it out on a computer. There’s something therapeutic about writing your innermost thoughts. It helps you face your ideas and conflicts, moving from your heart and soul, out through your hand and fingers, and finally onto the page.

If you are a writer, journaling helps you become a better writer. It forces you to write. If you’ve ever complained about writer’s block, here’s a way to get into the practice of writing every day. For some, staring at a blank page is difficult. This pulls you through it without any judgment.

It allows you to explore new ideas. I usually meditate for twenty minutes, then pick up my journal and start writing. Rarely do I think about the words I’m putting on the page – I let my mind flow and jot down ideas as they come to mind. Sometimes I come up with ideas for books or classes. Sometimes I write simply to calm my mind. Sometimes I work out problems that are occurring in my life. I leave it up to what’s inside to dictate the way my morning posts will go.

If you want to take this to another level, I would recommend picking up The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron. This classic is one of the best books on daily freewriting, and becoming better at being more comfortable in your own skin. I recently picked up her latest book, The Listening Path, which also focuses on being more aware of what is going on around you. Writers are some of the most aware people, seeing everything in their surrounding area. Why? Because we’re intrigued and curious about life as a whole. The more you notice, the more aware you become. I also believe this helps you become more content and happier every day.

Are you sold on journaling?

It doesn’t take a lot to get started. In fact, in my early days, I would pick up spiral notebooks and write in them.

I’ve graduated now towards selecting journals that are beautiful and comfort me by their appearance. I prefer small, solid lines that allow me to squeeze a lot of writing on a page. I love pretty colors, flowers, and soothing prints.

I keep it simple, and start every entry with the date across the top of the page.

Then I write.

I also prefer more than one journal to keep track of different things. My morning gratitude journal. A professional journal for my business. A 5-year Q&A journal. A caregiving journal to track what I do for my mom.

I love journaling so much, I created my own last year. Starting Today gives you one question a day to help you reinvent your second act. Ponder each question and let your mind run free. The questions help you think in directions you might not have considered in years.

Journaling is a highly personalized experience. I don’t believe you should ever be rigid with your practice.

If you’re going to start a journaling practice, I recommend you start by asking yourself a few questions.

What’s working in my life?

What am I looking to accomplish?

Where am I going?

Don’t take these literally. The meaning is up to you.

Start with one journal. Use it for diving into everything.

Then slowly, you’ll discover you gravitate towards specific goals and desires.

That’s when you’ll choose to add a gratitude journal into your life, for example.

Or maybe you’ll want a question a day.

With journaling comes peace, happiness, and contentment.

And that’s something we can all use a little more of in this crazy, chaotic world.