It’s no secret that I love to write! This blog wouldn’t exist if writing was not one of my passions. When I first discovered journaling, I was in elementary school. I had a little diary from Wal-Mart that had a little lock and two keys. It was a place to put and protect my ideas, secrets and dreams. I absolutely loved it! I treasured it, just as I treasure all the books that come my way.
There’s something about getting a new journal that makes me happy in a way nothing else does. It’s the way the paper smells as I flip the pages, the feeling of my pen gliding along the lines that get me, and the little whooshing and scratching sounds of writing. As soon as I unlocked that first diary and used my first black gel pen, I was hooked.
For the most part, I have documented each day of my life in many different journals since I was nine years old. It’s interesting to look back and see what my little problems and challenges were. What’s really amazing is reading how I overcame them. Sometimes I come across little pearls of wisdom, and I wonder how a kid could be so wise. Other moments are so embarrassing or laughable that I can’t help but smile and shake my head at the younger version of myself.
One thing, in particular, stands out to me through all my journals. Reading them made it very obvious that I had suffered from mental illness around the age that I started writing. At the time it wasn’t readily noticeable to my family members or friends, but in looking back, I can see the mania and depression. I can also note instances of Borderline Personality Disorder peeking out behind the words.
Where to find journal prompts
When I had a problem, I would write about it in a broad, more general way. I used my journal as more of a sounding board, talking about what was bothering me and why it bothered me. It never occurred to me to do more than venting. I used to write about the boys I had crushes on, and what annoyed me, and how much I hated school sometimes. It just felt good to get it all out of my head and onto paper.
I remember back in the days of MySpace, there used to be surveys that would get put on the bulletins area. I did them religiously, and they were simpler yet effective ways to joke with friends and display your personality.
However, it wasn’t until social media, namely Pinterest, became huge that I found journal prompts. They were a huge discovery, because I’d never considered that journals could be used for a narrower focus. Journal prompts led me to the next step: problem-solving.
There are thousands (and maybe millions!) of downloadable journal printables on Pinterest. Another place that I find printables are Etsy stores. There are some very beautiful and specific journal pages available on Etsy. When I find a new blog to follow, I usually sign up for freebies if it includes journal prompts.
How journal prompts helped me with therapy
Journal prompts are a great method of self-care for people who love to write. Writing down the swirl of emotions and thoughts in my head is one of the few ways I can stay completely honest. It can be difficult to open up and be vulnerable to friends or a new therapist. Some things just can’t be spoken when it comes to trauma, and some feelings are harder than others to identify.
Sometimes I ramble during therapy sessions. The biggest (and albeit most embarrassing) reason? I forget what the therapist has asked in the middle of answering. Shout out to Electroconvulsive Therapy for giving me the memory of a goldfish. Another reason is that I may feel uncomfortable with the question and start talking about something else entirely to deflect.
The beauty of journal prompts is in how the questions can help us by guiding us through our emotions and keeping us on topic. What I love most about journal prompts is that I can write and ramble as long as I want, but also it’s a way to get myself to a more succinct answer in therapy.
How I use journaling for self-care
Some days, I come up with my own prompts, and other days, I go to trusty old Pinterest for inspiration. I usually choose 1-3 questions per day, instead of doing them all at once. But if I’m in a stressful situation, such as my previous relationship’s sudden demise, I do them all to try to problem-solve.
The inspiration for my 30-Day Breakup Journal actually came from a place of stress and not finding exactly what I needed on the internet. My situation was unique and although I’m not the first person to go through it, I felt like I was the only person that really understood what I needed. I came up with questions on my own while soul-searching during my trip to the Bahamas. My hope is that what helped me will help others heal, too.
I think that journals are a great method for creative personalities. They’re not limited to words, either. Many people draw what they’re feeling, too! I absolutely love that I can take on a targeted and methodical approach to problems now because of the prompts. Another things that I learned about myself was that I didn’t know a whole lot about myself until I started using them. I knew my likes and dislikes, but really didn’t know who I was as a person or who I truly wanted to be. The self-discovery aspect has helped me understand my values, loves, fears, and boundaries. I think that journal prompts have actually made it easier to express myself and stand firm in what I believe in, because I know myself better.
Do you use journals as a part of your self-care routine?
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