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What's the Deal with Journaling?

Journaling. Why am I so passionate about this subject? Why do I try to push it on my friends and family (or anyone who will listen)? Simple — because I am passionate about it. When I talk about journaling, I am coming from a place of experience and knowledge, because I have lived and experienced its transformational benefits.

It took me hitting a wall of sorts, to pick back up this practice that guided me so much as a kid. When things got tough growing up - divorce, loss, moving around, etc. - my mom got me my first journal. She felt I needed a safe space to let my feelings out. In fact, looking back, my mom was always using journals and encouraging us kids to use them throughout my childhood. I would find her various little books, journals and scribbled musings on her bedside table and around the house and I knew there was an element of healing within the pages and frenzied Post-Its.

I begrudgingly gave it a shot and this ritual helped me immensely. No matter what I was going through, I knew that by the end of the day I would get it all out on paper and in return would feel 10x better.

Unfortunately, like so many healthy practices that are ingrained in us at a young age, I let journaling go. Somewhere along the way, I forgot that tuning in was the answer to the approval I sought from outside sources. This unhealthy pattern of seeking outside validation spiraled into anxiety and a sense of disassociation from my feelings, something many of us pick up in our late childhood and carry with us into adulthood.

If you are reading this, I am willing to bet you have experienced “trauma” at some point in your life. I hesitate using this word because it feels like such a trendy topic at the moment, but there it is. No point in sugar coating it, eh? Whether it was when you were a kid, a teen, during your college years or now in adulthood, I’m guessing you’ve lived through some shitty situations. If you’re lucky, you made it out stronger on the other side. If you’re not as lucky, maybe you’re still grappling with these potholes in the road and you haven’t fully processed them. Or maybe you’re like so many of us who THINK we’ve processed them, only to be dealing with the repercussions later and wondering why you sometimes drink too much or have a short temper, random panic attacks or bouts of depression..sound familiar?

Wherever you fall on the spectrum, I can tell you that you will be a happier, lighter, more self-evolved human by journaling. I know it sounds cliche, but getting it all out and seeing your words staring back at you on paper is a level of therapy that I truly believe cannot be replicated anywhere else — including a therapist’s office.

Earlier this year, I read the book The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron. There are few books that have truly been cathartic for me but this was definitely one of them. When I finally ordered this book that I had in my “Save for Later” bag on Amazon for 6+ months, I was in a place where I felt I had grown SO much and was very happy, but I still felt a bit lost and uninspired. Essentially, I was ready to take the next step to level up but I had no idea where to begin; cue this book.

The Artist’s Way is a 12 week “course” with the end goal of spiritual enlightenment and an innovative jumpstart to your dream life. More specifically, this book is geared towards the creative individual who is unsure of how to integrate their creative selves with their professional selves, i.e., “how can I make money doing what I truly love?”.

I will not get into the details of the coursework I covered while reading this book, but what I will mention is The Morning Pages. The Morning Pages is a required writing promise that each reader embarks on. Essentially, first thing in the morning after you wake up, you open your journal and stream-of-consciousness WRITE. Three pages to be exact. You just Anything - big or small - you write it.

Let me tell you, this was freaking HARD. I thought to myself “what in God’s name am I going to write each morning? And three pages!?”. Truly not for the faint of heart. It was really difficult at first, and if I’m being honest, I wanted to give up many times. I would be lying if I said I didn't skip some mornings at the beginning of my quest. My hand is cramping up just thinking about it. BUT, by the third week, I was hooked. I was craving TMP. I felt excited to wake up and begin writing; I began to feel lighter, more inspired and overall happier. It felt as if a weight had been lifted off my chest. I was writing about a lot of mundane crap most of the time but then seemingly, out of nowhere, I would get really deep and suddenly I would get to the bottom of a lot of buried emotion. Long story short, by the end of my 12 week venture, I was feeling a sense of clarity I had not experienced in years. Like..YEARS. Or maybe ever? Bonus: I finally got the courage to begin teaching yoga, something I had been putting off for over a year because I was too afraid. Integration of passion and source of income = achieved.

I am not writing this post to convince you to read Ms. Cameron’s book. In fact, I wouldn’t recommend it to a lot of people as it is a specific genre for individuals looking for a specific outcome. I AM, however, writing this post to convince you to take up journaling. If the reasons above are not enough, journaling has been proven to help with better sleep, boost in memory, higher I.Q. and drastically improve symptoms of depression (if not relieve you of symptoms altogether).

I don’t care what your style is - one page (this is what I aim for now), one paragraph, sloppy chicken scratch that is barely legible, a five minute prompted journal, etc., you do you! And give it longer than a week — three weeks should be the goal. Try waking up in the morning, maybe getting up a 1/2 hour earlier, and jotting down all your thoughts. Added bonus if you pick your journal back up before you go to bed ;)

Further reading:

* This article describes how journaling may boost our immune systems as well as make vaccines more effective. Woah.

* Loved this read where a woman took up journaling per the suggestion of her husband, who, funnily enough, read The Artist’s Way and was inspired by The Morning Pages. Told ya ;)

* Great article on tips & tricks to get into journaling including journaling prompts and beginner inspo.

Some of my favorite journals:

The Five Minute Journal

The Daily Stoic Journal

Basic Journal (no frills)

Basic Journals Pack of 5

Please reach out and let me know if you try journaling and whether or not you liked it. Remember, try to give it at least three weeks! It WILL feel uncomfy at first, that’s the point. Push through.

Xoxo, Lulu

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