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In a world that is filled with so many responsibilities and distractions, it is easy to lose touch with our innermost thoughts and feelings and just "get on with it." Journaling is a simple yet profound practice that has the power to bring clarity, insight and a sense of calm back into our lives.

Journaling is different to keeping a diary. It is a deeply personal journey of self-discovery and expression. It may evolve through words, doodles or collage, but it is a safe space to explore your thoughts, emotions and experiences without judgement.

Journaling has become my number one power tool for overcoming challenging moments, thoughts and times. I have cultivated a practice that works for me and over time I have compiled effective journaling prompts to lead me out of anxiety and back into a safe space where i can see a little more clearly and make decisions about what I need next. Through a combination of scribbling down whatever comes to mind in the moment and using "sentence starters" to set intentions, be grateful or acknowledge the little wins, I have discovered something that really helps me. My wish is that in reading this you may also find journaling to be a simple practice that supports you each and every time you need it.

So, how to go about this?

Find the joy. Choose a pen that works and a notebook that brings a smile to your face- a pretty cover, favourite colour or one that is associated with a happy connection- maybe a gift from a friend or a purchase made with conscious determination to use if for journaling. The important thing is not simply to grab a scrap of paper or the back of an old envelope! Treat this practice with respect and create a designated place for your thoughts to flow, for creativity to be unleashed and for hidden memories, insights and perspectives to come safely into view.

Set yourself up to succeed. Allocate some time just for this practice and dedicate your attention and energy to it. If there are distractions around you then journalling can become challenging, frustrating or stressful. Find a time and space away from noise, housework, clutter, social media distractions and other responsibilities. Switch off your phone or go somewhere without it if possible. Taking this time to pause, to step out of the fast paced chaos that can sometimes take over, allows us to cultivate a deeper sense of mindfulness and awareness leading to greater personal growth and fulfilment. As lovely as it is to take a walk, find a magical spot amongst the flowers and dreamily journal for the afternoon, this is not practical or realistic on a daily basis. Instead, scheduling a time in your day means you can make journaling a part of your existing routine. I find bedtime works best for me, but maybe a morning slot with a coffee, or during a lunch break works for you.

Embrace imperfection. This is just for you. Spelling, grammar and neatness are unimportant here. Allow yourself to write freely without fear of judgement (including from yourself) and be honest- the only one you're hiding from is yourself if you choose to censor your true feelings and thoughts. Write it all down. Maybe come back to it a little later and re read it. This can be a powerful element to journaling so it is essential that you don't pretend- write it all down!

Cultivate a positive internal dialogue. Journaling prompts such as "I am grateful for...." provide a useful starting point, and can set your mind on a positive path. I like to start with three things I am grateful for but some days I only write one, and sometimes ten or more. Try not to set rigid rules but instead go with the flow and accept whatever comes without judgement or criticism.

Another powerful prompt I use is "I am proud of myself today because I..."

It can often be easy to habitually criticize ourselves for all our mistakes and that internal negative voice is so hurtful. Would you say these things to your parent, child, sibling or friend? No. So please don't let that voice speak to you in this way. Take control. Cultivate a new habit where you express pride and celebrate the wins, no matter how small. Doing this every day is truly transformative. Before long, you will notice the positive voice speaks louder than the negative one- not just when journaling but throughout your day. Notice what that voice says when you look in the mirror, finish a phone call or after a social occasion. Is it full of judgement and criticism or is it proud and supportive?

You have the power to change that voice. With journaling you can reprogram the internal dialogue. It gets to be different now.

A beautiful way to end each journal entry can be with a positive affirmation. It may be the same every day, or whatever pops into your head in the moment. But remember, keep it positive and in the present tense. Always begin with "I am...." even if you don't currently feel like you are. For example, if you are feeling stressed about an upcoming event your affirmation may be "I am not stressed." Unfortunately our subconscious mind only hears "I am stressed" which isn't what we want. Instead, change your wording to "I am calm and relaxed". or "I am in control." Write this out as many times as you wish and try to repeat it to yourself frequently throughout the day (perhaps each time you go to the loo!) to remind yourself that you are calm. Eventually you will catch up with your intention and you will feel calm. And if it doesn't work and you still feel stressed? Then you haven't finished yet- keep affirming until it is your reality.

Final thoughts on journaling...

I have been journaling for years and find I dip in and out of a regular journaling habit. When everything is going well, I notice my journaling becomes less frequent and even stops completely. Then as I start to feel anxiety creeping back in or finding myself lost or stuck in my head, I am gently nudged back to this power tool. And when I do pick up my pen and notebook again, I feel a rush of connection and gratitude for doing so.... and I wonder why I ever stopped (yep, each and every time I go through this process!)

So remember that positive voice, your internal cheerleader who has your back, and cultivate a practice that not only seeks out positivity, gratitude and free speech, but one that also listens and records them. One that allows you to pour your thoughts out in order to process them, for them to be seen and heard by your conscious mind, to be acknowledged and accepted.

Maybe you read them again before writing your next entry.

Maybe you read them a week, month or even a year later.

Maybe you never read them again.

Maybe you burn your entry in a sacred ritual (or because it feels safer for you to know your thoughts remain private)

No-matter what your journaling looks like, this is your practice. Explore and develop your own way and feel the power at your fingertips.

Do you already journal? I'd love to hear your techniques and about your journey. Or is this new to you? Click below to ask me about setting up your own journaling practice.

Happy journaling my friends,

with love and gratitude,

Nicci x

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