In this article I look at the benefits of writing a journal effectively by just spending five minutes in the morning – when our brains are at their most creative and receptive. I’ll provide some ideas to get your creative juices flowing to help putting pen to paper.
When you journal you give yourself the gift of a few minutes at the beginning of the day for a little self-enquiry and reflection. How are you? What do you need today? What is your intention for the day ahead? At work we spend time doing our “to do” list to make sure our day is planned, and tasks are ticked off and completed and how good does that feel? Taking time to capture our thoughts at the beginning of the day can improve our mental well being. You will be amazed at what a difference these few minutes may begin to make to the rest of your day.
Try this experiment today, or first thing tomorrow morning. Set a timer for five minutes, find somewhere quiet and comfortable to sit, where you won’t be distracted, and just sit for five minutes. Just breathe and allow your thoughts to come, watch them, just an observer for these few minutes.
How did It feel?
….how did those five minutes feel? did it feel like a surprising amount of time when all you had to do was sit? Was it hard to sit still when you have so many things to be getting on with?
The Power Of Writing
The very act of writing something down gives shape to our thoughts. Seeing idea or feeling set out on paper gives us a new perspective and can help us to be more objective. Perhaps that idea we’ve been pondering really does have potential, or the worry we’ve been carrying is not so serious after all.
Journal writing helps us to clear our minds. If we get the list of things we have to do out of our heads and onto paper, then our brains will have space for more important thoughts. Keeping a journal helps you create order when you may feel your life is in chaos! Remember how good it felt when you wrote our secret diary when you were younger, sharing your most intimate feelings and thoughts on paper!
Words bring our thoughts to life, so committing our goals to paper makes it more likely that we will achieve them. The same is true for our hopes and desires.
I always encourage my clients to capture their thoughts on paper and write a journal, particularly if they are experiencing stress, anxiety or depression as it can help bring some focus and calm and help them see things in perspective, or develop an alternative way of thinking or seeing a particular problem, but also recognise when they have achieved the small things and made progress.
So grab a pen and remember, what you write is for your eyes only. Why not take five minutes now, grab a nice cup of coffee or tea and get started. Below are some ideas to get you started.
Topic 1 - An Exercise to Start Writing
A blank page can be intimidating so don’t think, just write your name. now try to imagine you are meeting yourself for the first time and write down how you would introduce yourself. Don’t read it back, don’t correct as you go, just keep writing until you run out of things to say and then stop.
Topic 2 - Write a Love Letter to Yourself
Self-confidence is a vital ingredient for our happiness, but when was the last time you gave yourself a pat on the back, or looked in the mirror and told yourself that you liked what you saw? Writing a love letter to ourself might sound odd (we are rarely encouraged to praise ourselves after all), but setting out all the things you are proud of and the attributes you admire is a great way to boost your self esteem.
Topic 3 - I Feel Most Energised When
Write a list of all the things you do and the people you see on a regular basis and put a tick by the energy boosters. These are the positive influences in your life so seek them out, especially when you are feeling drained or uninspired.
Topic 4 - Describe One of The Best Moments of Your Life
Noticing the good things in our lives encourages us to think positively and positive thinking has been proven to be good for both our health and our happiness. Write down and spend a moment relieving one of your best moments.
Topic 5 - Feel Your Fears
“Fear is only as deep as the mind allows” (Japanese Proverb). We are hardwired to feel fear – it is what keeps us safe, but we are prone to inappropriate fears; fear of failure or public speaking. Make a list of everything you’re afraid of and think about how they make you feel. It will help clarify your thinking and allow you to look at them more objectively.
Topic 6 - What is Stopping You?
Mental blocks hold us back from doing the things that we really want to do. Replacing “I know I can’t” with “perhaps I can” is one way of clearing the blocks and allowing the positive energy to flow. Write down five things that you think you can’t do, along with the reasons why. Now rewrite the list swapping negative words for positive ones.
Topic 7 - What do You Desire?
Listing our hopes and dreams makes it more likely that they will come true. Why? because seeing them set down on paper helps to clarify what they are and that, in turn, enables us to work out what we need to do to realise them. Just write down what, in an idea world, you would most love to happen.
Topic 8 - Letting Go
We need to learn to let go of negative thoughts and old grievances. because they simply clutter up our minds and drain our mental energy. Think of your mind as a filing cabinet and imagine opening the drawers and taking each thought in turn and asking yourself “does this thought contribute to my sense of wellbeing?” If the answer is “no” then let it go.
Topic 9 - What Went Well Yesterday?
It can feel strange at first to find ways to praise yourself, it’s often easier to focus on what you haven’t achieved rather than the things you have. There might be a worry that this feels a short step away from arrogance or self-satisfaction. Step away from those conditioned thoughts and spend 5 minutes to reflect on everything you did manage to achieve yesterday. Allow yourself to be proud!
Topic 10 - Setting an Intention for the Day
Make a list of five intentions, then select one for today. Remember they must come from the heart, so ask yourself what matters to you most. Keep them positive in tone and write in the present tense. Setting an intention is like drawing a map of the route you desire to take, not a task to be accomplished but rather guiding principles for how you want to live and be in the world.
This article is adapted from the book, Five Minutes in the Morning – A focus journal available from Amazon. This journal provides example exercises which you can actually write in the book. A great way to get you started on journal writing.