This simple practice can have profound effects on our mental, emotional and spiritual wellbeing. It can be done almost anywhere, is inexpensive and perfection is not the goal, so anything goes – slang, text speak or even profanity if necessary. It is for our eyes only and we may or may not ever read it again.

Journaling can bring about clarity in stressful situations. It is a means of self-reflection and may also bring unresolved emotions to the surface. It can be a creative and/or spiritual practice, but not essentially so. As we relax into the writing we may find inspirational ideas arise. Generally, it is a mindful practice, being in the present moment with our writing materials.

All is required is anything from a notebook and pen to a quality ornate and perhaps lockable journal and a selection of writing/colouring materials for a more creative experience. The choice is unique to you.

Journaling for self-development is an expression of our inner and outer worlds. It is an exploratory exercise helping us to make sense of difficult situations in our lives, getting us in touch with our feelings, desires and not only our relationships with others but mostly the relationship with ourselves. For this purpose, it is best practiced regularly, finding a time and space from your daily/weekly routine where you can commit to writing your thoughts and experiences into your dedicated book. It may start something like – “Today has been a strange day – I interacted with several people who really made me think about my motives behind my actions. I began to feel guilty about how I have been spending my time lately, although at the same time enjoying my experiences. I believe my free time is something that part of me expects to spend doing for others, rather than indulging myself – It seems somehow like a luxury – yet it is so easy for me to support my friends and family in their activities and lives. I want to enjoy my experiences in my free time instead of believing that I’m doing something wrong…”

You can see how the writer explores a few seemingly brief and meaningless encounters to understand what’s going on for them on a deeper level. It is an exploratory exercise allowing your self-talk in your head to form words on the paper and just see where it goes. Sometimes it may be profound and others it may be insignificant. The important element to remember is that we are doing this for ourselves as a self-care tool.

Dream journaling is a way to record and perhaps interpret our dreams. For this exercise it is best to keep a notebook and pen on your bedside table to note down our dreams as we awake, bearing in mind that this may occur in the early hours. The reason for doing this is that our dreams or their essence can be easily forgotten. The dreams, according to Carl Jung are, “the royal road to the unconscious” so once experienced they can easily slip back there. There may be themes or recurring dreams. There is the possibility of talking your dreams over with a counsellor or an analyst to see if they can shed meaning on your life. The more we connect with our dream state the more it will talk to us and the more we can uncover about both our beautiful selves and our more shadowy side.

Letter writing is a fabulous way of easing conflict either in a difficult relationship or it may be a way of expressing love and appreciation of another in your life, regardless of whether the relationship has ended or is ongoing. The letter, although can be sent, is more for your own expressions. Relationships are complex and we play different roles and have different responsibilities and commitments. There are close intimate relationships and more superficial ones. We have working relationships and long-distance relationships and more common than not have online relationships. By writing to someone we are/were in relationship with it allows us to reflect on our needs and our purpose for being with them. Is it fulfilling? Is the relationship one-sided? Are there expectations that are unspoken? How do we feel towards significant others in our life? Are we being treated fairly? How is the communication between you? Is the other person ready to hear what we want to express to them? Are we growing at the same pace? – There are so many facets to relationships and by asking ourselves these questions and more and writing them as if we are addressing the person before us we can get a better understanding of where we stand in each and if it is healthy or one that is better to let go of. This exercise is performed more randomly and can be part of the self-reflective process. It is a way of stopping and taking stock of how we relate and how others relate to us and a mature approach to growing and attracting more of who we want in our life.

A gratitude journal is a very uplifting way to end the day or indeed complete at any time in the day. The human mind tends to wander towards what we haven’t got, haven’t achieved or haven’t become. Making gratitude statements in a journal is one method of training our brain to be happy with what we do have, who we already are and what we have achieved. It is about being thankful and expressing this on paper. It teaches us appreciation and helps us have a more positive outlook on life in general. The theory behind this is that the more we think, write positivity the more will arrive in our life. We will attract more of the same. The more lack we focus on, again more of the same will ensue. Again, this can be completed in conjunction with a self-development journal. We start with 5-10 positive statements about what we are grateful for and then add to this each day, finding more and more things to be grateful for and give us a growing appreciation for life itself.     

Whichever method of journaling appeals to you will bring a straightforward way of communicating free of judgement and criticism.  


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