I have been keeping a journal in one form or another most of my life. My first official journal entry was written the day I turned eight years old. I received a journal as a birthday gift that day. From that point on I have written both regularly and irregularly in traditional journals or notebooks. But I have also kept other types of journals. Maybe one of these will suit you.
1. Dump Journal
This is the journal you never want anyone to see. It’s the one with all the junk and garbage that needs to be expressed when life is hard. It holds your anger, your sadness, your thoughts, fears and disappointments. It’s where you write out all of your frustrations and negative emotions in a healthy way.
2. Gratitude Journal
The good old-fashioned gratitude journal. Make regular entries about everything you’re grateful for in your life. This really, truly helps you see just how blessed you are.
3. Joy Journal
This is where you write all of your joys, celebrations, happy events and emotions. This is the journal you come back to when your feeling down (after you’ve written in your dump journal). It’s your pick-me-up journal that also helps you remember and see the good things about your life when life gets so hard that you can’t remember anything good. It is a place for laughs and funny moments that make you smile.
4. Daily Life Journal
This is probably the most common type of journal. The place where you write your day-to-day happenings, good or bad, compiled in one place.
5. Art Journal
This type of journal combines feelings, emotions, experiences, etc. and puts them on the pages of a blank art journal or old book using a variety of artistic mediums. Anything goes. These are super visual and super fun.
6. Song or Poetry Journal
I wrote my first song, unofficially, when I was five-years-old, but then I went through years of poetry writing before I came back to songwriting at age 15 and never looked back. My songs chronicle my teen years, my faith, my hope, my challenges, my heartaches, love, forgiveness, dreams, views and many emotions and events in my life. Writing in these creative mediums is a great release and, when shared, helps other people feel and relate to the emotions expressed in the song. Don’t worry about technical aspects unless you really want to become a poet or songwriter. Just let your feelings flow in verse.
7. Dream Journal
There are two types of dream journals. The first is the type where you record your actual dreams that you had during sleep and then analyze them for great insight into your subconscious mind.
The second is an actual journal created in any of the formats above about the things you want to achieve in life. It can be expressed as a vision board or video vision or even a bucket list. The point is to RECORD it in some form so your dreams are more likely to happen.
My Journaling Journey
I’ve been journaling since I was about eight-years-old. There were periods of my life where I completely stopped journaling for a time, but the practice would return. I can’t not write.
In 2004, after a few years of only writing a yearly entry, I began journaling daily. I was quickly approaching an all-time low in my life so I began journaling to process my thoughts, feelings, to remind myself of all I had to be grateful for, to record and analyze dreams (something I love to do), and to solidify things I was learning (I’m a big reader). I continued to do this for years. Then in 2008 my journaling went to a whole new level.
Having struggled with self-loathing and feelings of complete ugliness, and after having been in a long-term relationship that was extremely damaging to my self-worth I–in a complete moment of insanity–decided to compete in a beauty pageant. Yes, you heard that right! I decided to compete in a beauty pageant (even though I felt hideous. I know, it makes no sense!). And here’s the craziest part: I was still in that difficult and damaging relationship!
I turned to journaling with intensity and began filling up notebook after notebook with self-analyzing thoughts like:
Who am I?
Who am I to compete in a beauty pageant?
Am I really ugly?
Is there any beauty in me at all?
Why do I believe what I believe?
What is my purpose?
What do I want to do, be, and experience in my life?
What do I believe that might actually be a lie?
Oh, those journals are filled with a heart-struggle between what my soul knew about my worth and potential and the lies I had been led to believe about myself because of the situation I was in. I dug deep and I dug often, and I had to be so brave to face the lies. And even braver to stand on that stage and compete. But I did it. And I didn’t do it once, I did it four times! And I’ve grown every time. Even secured a title or two along the way. Go figure!
I continue to journal on a regular basis. Writing is a creative and expressive outlet for keeping the soul healthy and clear. It’s not a cure all, but it’s definitely a powerful tool for self-care!
This Week’s Challenge
This week choose one of the exercises below to practice greater self-care.
1). If you already have a journaling habit, choose a new kind of journal to experience this week. Maybe one of the kids suggested above. Or try writing more frequently if it’s not a daily habit.
2). If you don’t journal regularly, try writing down your thoughts once this week.