Do you often feel overwhelmed with thoughts that deteriorate your productivity?
Does life get frustrating when you have too many emotions bottled up with no way to channel negativity?
This means that you need to increase your positivity dosage to feel more focused and alive. But, how can you do that? The answer is journaling!
With our busy lives, we hardly have time to look after ourselves. As time passes by, we all change – our personality, mentality, attitude, likes and dislikes, and many other things change in us. It makes us lose track of who we really are today.
When you were younger, you probably kept a diary where you shared all your thoughts and struggles. But as you were growing up, you got busier by the day, and giving priority to writing slowly faded with time. But I am sure you still remember how you felt when you were writing in your diary. Yes! The feeling of pure liberty of expression.
I remember back when I was in high school, I kept a diary where I shared all my thoughts and struggles. Although the biggest struggle was how to hide it from the reach of my family members in the house, it didn’t matter to me as much as writing did. It felt amazing whenever I wrote my feelings out and made me feel like I was not alone in my miseries.
However, like most of my other hobbies, I stopped writing when I joined college. I couldn’t get time for writing daily (or even every other day) and I was too lazy to share everything by the end of the week because there was so much to write. So I stopped.
The difference between keeping a diary and journaling
Most people use ‘writing in a diary’ and ‘journaling’ interchangeably. They are not the same thing.
A diary is for keeping a record of how your day was and what all you did in the entire day. Most people write experiences and events that took place during the day. Of course, it need not be daily writing per se, but it is more like the timeline of your life.
In your diary, you talk about the incidents that took place and the feelings you felt about it by keeping a record of the place, date, and time it happened. You talk about things like who you met, what you talked about, the arguments you had with someone, how you felt about what your mom/dad/friend said about something, etc.
Writing in a diary is a method of releasing stress. It feels more like a booklet of your daily life routine.
Journaling, on the other hand, is for deep self-talks. When you journal, you talk about certain aspects of life and how it affects you. I consider it to be more personal and detailed than a diary because when you journal, you explore ideas that take shape and evaluate your life.
In your journal, you don’t talk about your day and your feelings. Instead, you talk about a particular perspective in your life. You share some reflections on your experiences, specific things that are bothering you, thoughts about your life, yourself, or your lifestyle, etc.
Keeping a journal is an excellent method for getting to know your deeper self. It is more about exploring your life.
Benefits of journaling
According to the tLEX Institute, a person has an average of about 12,000 to 60,000 thoughts per day – 80% of those are negative thoughts. This is why we need to channel those negative thoughts into positive ones. One of the best ways to boost positivity is to start journaling.
Journaling is like talking to yourself. It is a way to ask yourself deep questions and work on discovering your inner thoughts to understand yourself better. If you are stressed because of a certain problem, journaling can help you identify what exactly is causing the problem. This way you can work on a plan to resolve the problem and hence reduce your stress.
I am sure there are days when you feel like you don’t really know yourself well. You can’t find answers to very simple questions.
Did this ever happen to you? You come across someone who asks you a simple and deep question about yourself like ‘How to describe yourself to a stranger?’, ‘What five things can make you smile?’, but your mind freezes making you unable to answer immediately.
I am sure this situation happened to you at least once in your life. Most of the time the reason you are unable to answer is because you never really thought about it. Or, it can be because you haven’t figured it out yet. Either way, you are lacking self-discovery.
Journaling acts as a guide through your mind to explore places you never thought of before. It helps you discover things about yourself that you never thought of buy digging deeper into your inner mind.
Both, writing in a diary and journaling are the cheapest form of therapy. It is a type of writing therapy that uses reflective writing to help you gain a deeper understanding of yourself and mental and emotional clarity.
From my personal experience, I can say that writing is so very therapeutic. It makes me feel like I am talking to someone and we both are trying to figure out what is going on in my life.
Related Post: How To Convince Yourself That Life Will Get Better
How to journal effectively?
I know that the blank page in front of you can be very intimidating. You may stare at it for long and know where to start. You may not know which question/topic to start with, or you may not even feel confident with your writing skills. Then you will tell yourself to just let go of this stupid idea to start journaling. Sounds familiar?
I am sure it does for every person who decided to start a journal. You want to feel the benefits of journaling but you are not able to and it is just wasting your time. So you just want to forget about it. DON’T! Think of how it can help you grow emotionally and mentally. Make this the motivation for you not to give up.
Here are some tips to keep journaling effective and interesting:
- Don’t try to make your writing fancy – journaling is something you share for people to read (although you can create a public online journal if you want). It is for your personal benefits. So don’t worry about your vocabulary, grammar, or spelling mistakes in your own (private) place.
- Write about whatever comes to your mind – yes, those journal prompts shared below can help you kickstart your journal topics, but you don’t have to create a schedule on what to write when. Whatever comes in your mind, just write about that without judgment.
- Make it a habit to write every day – We all know that it takes 21 days to create a habit to keep following. So make sure you push yourself to journal at first, until it becomes part of your daily routine.
- Make sure you are comfortable and focused – if there are distractions around you, you will be unable to concentrate on deep mind exploration. A quiet room is the best setting. Sitting on a desk is preferred, but anywhere comfortable will do too. I love my bed :p.
- Reread your entry to add additional thoughts – when we reread what we wrote, we get more ideas to add that may have skipped our mind while writing. So reread and add more thought
Journal Prompts for Self Discovery
There are various aspects of life that one would want to explore. It depends on what is happening in your life, what are you trying to process from an incident, or how are you feeling at that point.
Below, I shared some journal prompts to ask yourself about seven different topics. Except for the daily journal prompts, the rest need not be done regularly.
My advice is to use the ‘daily journal prompts’ on a daily basis. It keeps you motivated for the next day.
Daily Journal Prompts
- What can I do today to move closer to my goals?
- What am I thankful for at this moment?
- What did I learn today? What were my challenges?
- What compliments did I get today?
- I set a 2-minute timer and write down whatever comes to my mind.
Journaling for Self-Evaluation
- What does my ideal life look like?
- What are my strengths?
- What makes me happy? (30 things that make me smile)
- What do I value most in life?
- What am I most afraid of?
- What is my biggest regret?
- What am I most proud of?
- Am I a positive or negative person? If I am a negative person, how can I change my personality?
- In what areas am I optimistic, and in what areas am I pessimistic?
- What do I want to do in my free time? How do I like to relax?
- Describe one of my hobbies.
- What is the one thing I can not live without?
- What do I love about the things I am doing?
- What are the 10 things I love about myself? Why?
- What is the one thing you can do and never get tired of?
Journaling for Life-Evaluation
- What am I grateful for?
- What do I take for granted?
- Am I happy with my life? If not, why?
- What do I know to be true today that I didn’t know a year ago?
- What did I learn from the last couple of years?
- What/Who inspires me? Why?
- How do I want to be remembered?
- Where am I going to be in 5 years?
- What do I consider to be my culture, and how do I feel about it?
- Do I have a philosophy of life? If so, what is it? If not, how do I make important decisions?
Journaling for Productivity
- When do I feel the most productive? Why?
- What did I achieve this week/month/year?
- What are my top 10 goals to complete by the end of the year?
- What is holding me back from doing (what I want)?
- What habits (physical/mental) do I need to let go of to be more productive?
- Am I prioritizing my tasks properly?
- How can I improve reality?
- How do I deal with feeling unmotivated?
- What is causing my life to not work how I want it
- List three things I did until today that brings me closer to where I want to be in five years’ time.
Journaling for Boosting Confidence and Self-Esteem
- What is your biggest strength?
- What are your best character traits?
- What are my achievements until today? (Make a list starting from your childhood)
- What is the skill that I have and never thought I did?
- What are the things you can do better than the people around you?
- What is the bravest thing I have ever done?
- What are the possible outcomes from doing (something) if I don’t fail?
- What sabotages my self-esteem? How can I change that?
- If you would become an expert in a particular subject/activity, what would it be? How will you achieve it?
- Write down 10 of my favorite self-confidence quotes/affirmations to reference on a bad day.
Journaling for Relationships
- What qualities do I believe are important in friendships?
- How do my friends make my life better?
- What is challenging for me about developing close relationships?
- Who are the five people I’m most grateful to have in my life?
- How do I feel about my relationship with my family?
- How can I listen more to those in my life?
- Who is the most supportive of my goals? Have I told that person how much I appreciate them?
- Who drives me crazy, but I love anyway?
- Who makes me laugh out loud when we’re together?
- Who do I need to set healthy boundaries with?
- What is the difference between “like” and “love” to me?
- How can I describe what love means to me?
- What scares me about relationship/commitment?
- What are the three things I admire most about my spouse/partner?
- What are my spouse/partner’s dreams?
- When do I feel most loved?
- How can I bring more love into my relationships?
- What are the three words that describe my spouse/partner?
- What are deal breakers for me in a relationship?
- How can I change and enhance how my spouse/partner and I communicate?
Journaling for Self-Love
- If someone else described me, what would they say? Why?
- What makes me unique and lovable?
- What are the things I love about my body?
- When do I feel at my best? How can I do this more often?
- What can I forgive myself for?
- What are my biggest insecurities? How can I reverse them?
- How can I stop over-giving and learn to say no?
- What is one compliment I struggle to accept? Why?
- How can I start to heal from past pain and disappointment?
- Do I have any trauma that I never healed from? What can I do to heal?
Random Interesting Journal Prompts
- What is the happiest day of my childhood?
- What have I lied about and why?
- If I traveled back in time, what will I tell my younger self?
- Who do I hate the most? What have they done to me? What would I tell them?
- If I tell my story to my kid, what will I say?
- What is the one thing about me that no one knows?
- What is my favorite book/movie/TV show/song? Why?
- What would I do if you woke up one morning to find myself invisible?
- What would I do if I was able to communicate with animals?
- What magic power would I like to have? How would I use it? What would it feel like?
After a month of practicing to journal daily for 10-15 mins, you will notice how much you have grown to know yourself better. There is no specified length on the number of pages per entry. Write freely to feel better.
You will soon notice how your positive mindset will be boosting reflecting on your productivity.
Thank you for reading till the end 🙂
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Feel free to share your thoughts and ideas on my post about journaling in the comments below.