When did you last write a journal? Perhaps you’re too busy or haven’t put pen to paper in years—maybe the idea of writing your thoughts down fills you with horror—but for all the excuses, there are even more benefits to this mindfulness practice.
Aside from the positive psychological effects, such as enhancing memory function and communication skills, studies have also found that journaling can improve sleep and self-confidence, and even boost your immune system.
Just like meditation, your journal can take many forms—you could paint or doodle, pen a letter or even record yourself speaking or playing music. The key is to record whatever’s floating around in your head, then walk away from it. You can then look back and see how much you’ve grown.
Feeling inspired? Here are three simple ideas to help you get started—your mind will thank you for it.
1. Morning Pages
The concept of Morning Pages is simple—fill three sides of paper with words, stream-of-consciousness style as soon as you wake up. The practice was introduced by American author Julia Cameron in 1992, who insists that there’s no wrong way to do it. “You simply keep your hand moving across the page, not pausing,” she says. Ideally, you’ll build up to 30 or 40 minutes of writing, but we suggest starting small and simply let the words unfold.
2. Gratitude journaling
This involves listing anything in your life that you’re thankful for, or that makes you happy. And it doesn’t have to be time consuming: you may choose to write them down as soon as you wake up or before bed, or simply reel them off in your head when you’re brushing your teeth or boiling the kettle.
Start by listing five things you’re grateful for today: this could be anything from the bed you woke up in, to the clothes on your back. You could also list the good qualities of your favourite person. The purpose is simply to help your brain refocus and bring some perspective into your life—and a guaranteed smile.
3. Unsent letters
Writing a letter to someone, even if you don't post it, can be a cathartic experience. It allows you to tell that person things you would like to say, but might not be able to. It could be a love letter, an apology, or a tirade to vent your frustrations. Perhaps you’re writing to someone special and dearly departed, to your future self or to help you prepare for a difficult conversation. Either way, you’ll free your mind whilst also saving a stamp.