Getting started on a something new is often the fun part, but it can also be a bit daunting knowing where or how to begin.
I have dozens of journals scattered on my bookshelves. Most of them are half full at most. I love the idea of journaling but I have a hard time sticking with it once I get started. I tend to put too much pressure on myself when it comes to keeping a journal. If I am going to do something, I want to do it right, you know? I want to start a journal on page one and then keep a neat and pretty page by page account in perfect chronilogical order up until the very last page. It never really works out that way though. My thoughts get jumbled and I go off topic, I miss a few days here and there, my handwriting isn’t as great as I want it to be, I start with one theme and then decide on a better one… there are a million reasons why I have dozens of journals on my shelves that are half full. It can be pretty overwhelming keeping a journal. In my case, I always start with these grand intentions that always turn into a huge responsibility and time sucker that just isn’t realistic.
Maud Purcell shared a wonderful article The Health Benefits of Journaling that helps to put the act, and art of journaling into better perspective. Journaling is not only a means of cataloguing life, it is also an outlet for self expression, gaining perspective on a situation, recognizing habits, self discovery, prioritizing your life and so much more.
This year, we at Skin Deep Exposures are going to issue a challenge to ourselves and all of our readers to make journaling a part of our lives. Every week we will present a new writing prompt to get you started, refresh your creativity and make you think about the things that matter in life, and recognize and reevaluate the things that maybe don’t.
- Find a Journal. I recommend going cheap. I tend to be drawn to the fancy, expensive, leather journals (because they are beautiful- and they hold a nostalgic and romantic essence. I mean, when my great grand-kids go rummaging through my attic in 50 years and stumble upon my old journals I want them to find something like that! The down side to an expensive journal is that, if you are anything like me, it adds a ton of pressure to make it perfect. A cheap journal extends a freedom to mess up once in a while. If a page needs to be ripped out and written over again, no big deal. This is totally my opinion, however. Get a journal that feels right for you. You can even make one! Gather a stack of paper and fold it in half, staple or bind it down the middle and viola! You can even fold a piece of cardboard (cut to size) or card stock for the cover.
- Just Do It. Seriously, just start writing! When we write for emotional healing the best rule is that there are no rules! Sit down with a pen and paper and just write. Many times our subconscious will lay the road out before us as soon as we let go and just let the words come. It might surprise you what ends up splashed across the paper! Free- writing in this way allows our mind to purge itself of things that we might be keeping bottled up (consciously or even subconsciously). Putting an account of something on paper along with all of the thoughts and feelings that go with it, not only helps us to make sense of that particular issue in our lives, but it helps our brains and our emotions to literally purge themselves of the weight of that issue. It is super cathartic, even when it is painful, our hearts and minds need the release of letting go and journaling can provide that. It is important to let the words flow. Don’t worry about grammar or spelling. Don’t stop to go back and correct yourself, just write.
- Find inspiration. If you are struggling to find something to write about, go hunting for some inspiration! Take a walk, look through some old photographs, instead of writing, draw. Write down the lyrics to a favorite song or poem and think about why you love it. Write your own song or poem. Check out our weekly journaling prompts! 😉
- Write Regularly. While writing every single day may be a stretch for some, it is important to find a rhythm. Challenge yourself to write at least 2-3 times per week to start. Pick a day or a time that you can consistently set aside for journaling and be diligent about protecting that time. Setting aside about 20 minutes every day to journal is ideal, so if that seems overwhelming, start small and work your way up!
- Have Fun. Don’t put too much pressure on yourself when it comes to journaling. Make journaling a healthy outlet, not another responsibility. If you love to read, make reading a part of your journaling. Write book reviews, keep a log of the books that you are reading, the books that you want to read and rate them. If you like art, fill your journal with doodles and drawings and icons and fun handwriting. Make journaling your safe place that’s all about YOU.
- Be Creative. Remember that your journal is your very own. It can look and feel any way you like. There are no rules. Your journal is an expression of you and does not need to look like (or measure up to) anyone else’s journaling standards. Keep your journal somewhere private and write in it during the quiet moments when you are alone with yourself. Fill your journal with things that make you happy and reminders of the blessings in your life. Dedicate a few pages to lists of things that bring you joy, things that you are thankful for, people you love and who love you, favorite memories… on days when you find yourself journaling through something painful, you can look back at these pages and find peace.
Join us for the 2017 Skin Deep Exposures Journaling For Your Health Challenge starting today! Check in often for new inspiration, writing prompts and even free, hand-drawn journal pages you can print, or just use as inspiration.
JANUARY 2017: WEEK ONE and TWO
Let’s start this challenge off at a full out run!
The Journal prompt for week one is: “I Come From…”
Follow this prompt wherever it takes you. You can write about your family tree, you can tell your story (from as far back as you want to go). You may use this prompt for a day or you may take the entire week on this one! Maybe writing about where you come from makes you excited and fills you with joy and the recognition of blessing in your life. It could also be that the idea of writing about your roots is scary or painful. If writing about where you come from makes you want to curl into a ball, I pray that you will write it anyway. Maybe it is time for you to let go of some of that pain, get it out on paper and allow your heart to purge itself. Find a time when you can be alone and undisturbed. Bring some tissues, let yourself feel the feelings that arise. Write as much and for as long as you can and get it out! Maybe set aside some time to take a nap afterwards or watch a favorite movie, spend some time in prayer, listen to some peaceful and calming music that makes you happy or invite a friend over to talk. Give yourself permission to begin healing from your past and remember;
“You are BRAVER than you believe,
STRONGER than you seem,
SMARTER than you think and
LOVED more than you know.”
For Week Two, we will change things up a bit. Taking a deep breath after the pretty intense week one prompt, let’s spend this week thinking about the things that make us happy.
The journal prompt for Week Two is: “16 Things That Bring Me Joy”.
Obviously this prompt is more of a list than an editorial challenge. If you have some extra time, expand on each of the sixteen things on your list. Write about why each one brings you joy, how you can begin to incorporate more of these things into your life or expand the list into 25, 50 or 100 things that bring you joy. Maybe this prompt will inspire you to write something completely unexpected! Have fun.
Check in next Tuesday for week 4.
Check out this week’s hand drawn journaling pages for a bit of inspiration.
These are my personal journal pages for week one and two of January. I plan to add some color. I realize I am a bit rusty in the art department… Don’t judge! 😉
You can feel free to download these if you would like to use them to get started.
This page has no specific dates, so I can make a few copies and use it as the layout for each week in January.
My daily task pages for week one and two.
Week One writing prompt: “I Come From…”
Week Two writing prompt: “16 Things That Bring Me Joy.”
Moleskins make great journals!
Check out these great journaling books to get you started or for some added inspiration!