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For many who are just starting out on their wellness journey, a journal often feels like a very easy and achievable place to start. It can become an excellent tool to help you work through challenging times and let go of things that are troubling you. It’s a bit like a silent benevolent friend that listens and is there for you when you need to express how you feel. It can teach you a lot about yourself, your triggers and your ways of dealing in stressful situations that can be reflected on and used to reduce the impact of future events. 
But, when you’re faced with that first blank page in your journal, it can feel very daunting. So, here are our top tips for finding the right process for you and creating a self care routine that works for you… 

What should I be talking about in my journal? 

The goal of a wellness journal is to help you process your feelings and emotions and to help you work towards achieving your self-improvement goals. As this is such a personal journey, there’s no hard and fast rules about what you should write, so do what feels right for you. Some things I like to include and reflect on in my journal are: 
An affirmation for that day. Some kind intentions towards myself that I will use e.g I am going to approach today with love and kindness towards others or with a fun attitude no matter what. 
Reflections on your day. What went well? What didn’t go quite so well? What was your biggest learning? Who was there for you? 
A list of things you’re grateful for. I quite like to add photos to these too to make them really vivid when I flick back through the pages. 
Make a note of any physical or emotional symptoms you’re feeling (like anxiety, stress, etc.) and, if possible, what triggered you to feel this way. 
Describing something you’re really proud of or something you have achieved today. This can be anything from big accomplishments like achieving a personal best on your morning run to small things like making the bed or saying “no” to a work project. If it makes you feel great about yourself then write it down in as much detail as possible. 
Writing a pro’s and con’s list for a big decision you have to make. 

Journaling isn’t just about putting pen to paper. 

One of the biggest hurdles when it comes to keeping a wellness journal is finding a format that works for you. For some people this can involve putting pen to paper. For others it can be a daily voice note or video journal, an art journal or a photography journal. It might even be a combination of all of these depending on how you’re feeling that day. What’s important is that you find what works for you and experiment when the words just aren't flowing. It might be that a list, story, poem or even a doodle in the margins is more fitting for how you’re feeling that day. 

Make sure your goal is realistic. 

One of the most important factors of any goal is that they are realistic and your plan to write in your journal fits into your existing schedule. 
If your mornings are always busy, juggling packed lunches and school runs and the commute to work, then it's not realistic to plan to spend 10 minutes writing in your journal every morning. There is no set time or place to do this, so it’s best to find the spot in your schedule that you know you’re most likely to stick to. I have clients who carry their journal in their handbag and fill it in on their lunch break, who add an entry every day before bed and one who fills it in on the train during their morning commute. 

Try not to hold back. 

This journal is for nobody else but you. No one has to ever even know about it unless you choose to share it with them, so uncensor yourself. This might feel quite difficult at first, but it does get easier. A good way I found to overcome this when I first started journaling was to try and write without stopping for 5-10 minutes per day. You’ll be surprised how quickly you get into the flow of things and what you have down on the page at the end of this exercise. 

Take some time to reflect on previous entries. 

As cathartic as adding each entry to your journal is, the real value of a wellness journal comes from your ability to look back over your previous entries and reflect. If you’re having a bad day, reading back on an entry where you list everything you’re grateful for or where you describe a moment when you were really proud of yourself can help to boost your mood. You might also reflect on a previous experience where you were feeling the way you are now and how you got through it last time. These learnings are so personal and teach us a lot about ourselves and how we get through challenges. 
A wellness journal is such a valuable tool, and is one I use myself to process and reflect on my thoughts, feelings and coping mechanisms. If you’re interested to find out how a wellness journal might be used in your journey to True Freedom from mental health, get in touch today to talk to a member of the team. 
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