Is your head full of chatter? Journaling can help. Ok, you would expect a writer to give this advice. But that doesn’t mean it’s incorrect! Writing down our thoughts and reflecting on the day, is incredibly helpful. It gives you a safe place to park pain and the opportunity to internalise your success.

For most of us, our brains are forever chattering. There are ideas floating around, self-criticism, concerns, ideas and all manner of conversation.

Internal dialogue floating around with nowhere to go can be difficult to manage. If the ideas stay in your mind with no safe harbour, they may distract you from work in the now. Or even begin to taunt you. If negative self-talk doesn’t get an outlet, it can overrun our confidence. The thoughts and feelings we have towards others can begin to distort. Problematic and painful thinking can pile on and grow.

This is where journaling excels.

Journaling gives you the ability to park this dialogue somewhere safe. It also allows you to reflect on those ideas, thoughts and feelings in a healthy way. It can ground you to go through the process of writing down your thoughts. By articulating them, we push them past the first inkling of thought and go deeper. That added depth helps us reflect and contemplate. Contemplation gives clarity to the thoughts. It makes us better able to find out which ones are flights of fancy or are credible, valid perceptions.

Journaling helps you avoid situations such as: 

· Overthinking your ideas until they become to unwieldy to know how to start

· Failing to make traction by investing too much in the thinking and not enough in the doing

· Blurting out negative thoughts, frustrations, gossip and unkind words about other people to others

· Attaching to criticism, negative self-talk or other people’s opinions

· Being overwhelmed by ideas, responsibilities and the weight of your thoughts

Journaling made easy 

A lot of people freak out about keeping journals. It sounds like it is something you need to do every night for it to work. And it has to be some kind of monologue each night. or some profound future story that your great grandkids will adore.

It doesn’t have to be hard.

My relationship with journaling has always been a funny one. I wrote way too much and then abandoned them with alarming regularity. Then, I worked out what worked for me.

What works for me #1:

I choose A5 art books that slip into my bag. I take them with me when I go places. I journal when I am waiting for people (which happens a lot because I am annoyingly early to most thing). I write, draw, doodle and journal. I even take the earlier train to give myself a decent slab of time at it. It works.

What works for me #2: 

Giving daily journaling structure was a game changer for me. I forget the stream of consciousness style. Instead, I answer questions in as much or little detail as I want.

Each* night, I write the following in my journal:

a) The 3 challenges I am facing. This helps with perspective and strategy. And watching them reduce in the rear vision mirror!

b) The 3 things I am grateful for. This helps with perspective and shifting my head from scarcity to abundance.

c) The 3 things I did well that day. This helps with seeing incremental growth. And to remind me small steps make big things and that no day is a wasted day.

It helps prime the pump for a journaling outside those questions too.

Oh, and I mix personal with work all the time. I also make sure I count the days when anxiety kicks my arse. Even if the things I am grateful for are tomorrow is another day.  Or what I did well was shower instead of hiding under the doona like a dirty stink bum. These moments definitely matter!     *Like all self-care, sometimes unscheduling works just as well.

What works for you? 

The aim is to think of ways to make journaling easier. It might be making it more accessible and fit into your timetable with ease. Or it might be giving some light structure. You can also try having a journal that asks you questions, makes you set goals, has writing prompts and more. It might be as simple as an A5 art diary that you can scribble, draw and muse in until your heart’s content.

There are so many options out there, it’s incredible.

What matters is that you get the opportunity to download your thoughts, sift through them and lower the chatter.

Journaling Exercises: 

  1. Experiment with my structured 3 questions format and see what happens! You’re bound to find your own version of daily journaling, even if it’s working out what doesn’t work for you.
  2. Prompts to help you write and journal come in all shapes and sizes. What’s one of your favourites? Share it in the comments below.

Want more self-care advice for your freelance journey? Check out our blog! 

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