• Jill Hance Bakke

Starting to Journal

Journaling is an easy task that offers big results.

To begin I suggest you plan to write daily. Use a book or a pad that is comfortable for you. I like books since they keep my entries sequential, and I have less chance of losing pages. My favorite size is 8 x 10, but journals come in all shapes, sizes, and styles. If you like to add “art” to your words, get an unlined book. Otherwise, I find lines helpful. Use pencils or pens.

There are no hard-set rules.

However, since we usually use our analytical left-brain to solve problems, it is advantageous to specifically engage our intuitive, creative right side to allow unexpected solutions to arise. To do this, you need to write quickly to avoid censuring your writing. Don’t worry about punctuation, spelling, or good grammar. The important thing is to get your thoughts down and writing quickly allows many unconscious thoughts to be recorded. A quiet, private place to write without interruption is best.

You may simply write about the events, problems and joys of your day, using your journal as a memory book. While I do this, I also use my journal to record my dreams, and I find it beneficial to work through exercises to learn more about myself or to pick a theme to write about. You may be surprised as to what information comes through in response to writing a themed entry; it can open your eyes to thoughts you had not considered. Drawing or doodling is not only allowed but recommended. Experts especially recommend drawing if you are recording a dream.

But the most important aspect in journaling is to get the words on the paper.

Since there are no real rules in journaling, you can write for any amount of time, but in the beginning it might be helpful to set a timer for twenty or thirty minutes. If you have difficulty in knowing where to begin, use a journaling prompt that suggests list making: such as starting your “bucket list” or thirty things that make you smile. There are dozens of websites and books that offer journaling prompts.

I like to include up to three gratitude items a day in my entries.They don’t have to be big items. How about that incredible pastry you had with your coffee this morning? Or the letter from an old friend you hadn’t heard from in a while? Or awaking to a gorgeous sunrise or needed rainstorm?

Journaling gratitude makes us more aware of the good in our life.

While specific rules for journaling do not exist, there is one thing I would be remiss if I did not address. Handwriting is better than keeping your journal on the computer. Experts say that handwriting taps our inner emotions better than typing. Writing by hand stimulates the brain and allows more interesting, less structured thoughts to arise. And formal studies show that children express more and better ideas writing in cursive than when typing and that brain scans show more areas associated with memory formation occur when writing than typing.

As you continue to write, you will discover that journaling is non-judgmental and the most economical therapy around. You will know yourself better, clarify thoughts and feelings, reduce stress by getting those angry, sad and stressful emotions on paper. This will reduce the chance of illness being created by the emotions. Frequently solutions to disagreements and problems that dog you also arise.

One of journaling’s biggest gifts for me is because I always note those times when almost miraculous answers and solutions come to problems I thought were undefinable or insurmountable. I find strength to face and conquer current issues when I reread the entries that have recorded those successes.

If you haven’t visited my Facebook page focusing on journaling, here

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