Journaling is the deliberate act of having a thoughtful conversation with yourself, a place to privately ponder and process the questions, challenges and concerns in your life that need some attention. In your journal you can write as little or as much as you want as a way to gain greater clarity, insight and focus. In fact, research suggests that a routine practice of journaling may have added health benefits like decreased symptoms of stress and anxiety.
So what gets in the way? Why isn’t everyone journaling every day? For many people, writing is intimidating. It reminds people of high school literature assignments and worse, it is hard to imagine anyone else reading these private entries.
But the truth is journaling is a quick, simple and effective way to plug in to your spiritual and emotional self without a lot of preparation. As well, journals serve as a sort of road map both for present time contemplation as well as source of chronological reflection. As professor, writer and theologian, Henri Nowen says, “Keeping a journal has taught me that there is not so much new in your life as you may think. When you re-read your journal you may find that your latest discovery is something you found out five years ago. Still, it’s true that one penetrates deeper and deeper into the same ideas and experiences.” With each writing, each journal entry, we may find there is yet another layer to the all too familiar challenge we have known about for a long time.
Try a few of these prompts to get you started on the path of self-exploration and discovery. You might find that when you slow down, get quiet and listen, you will write your way to the answers to many of your questions.
Stefanie C. Barthmare M.Ed., LPC