Journaling - The Shona Project

Steph has always praised all the advantages of journaling so we decided to ask her what all this journaling business is about? 

In counselling school one of the first things our lecturer said to us was, “you’ll need to buy a journal and get writing”.  I was like, well if that’s the homework, I’ve got this in the metaphorical bag. Easy right…Dear diary, had a great day today on the first day of college, found a great parking spot, got a chai latte, arrived on time, and everyone seemed really nice. Until I started to think, “Is this the type of stuff I should write? What does the lecturer want to read?” And he quickly followed with, “I won’t be reading it so write as freely as you like.” Great. He’s not even going to look at the homework?! So how do I know if I’m doing it right? My first (official) lesson in developing self-awareness. 

Journaling might seem like an assignment or homework exercise because it resembles a lot of what we do in school; writing line after line in a notebook to then be handed up to a teacher or lecturer for the dreaded corrections. But journaling is far from that. How? Because it’s not for academic purposes, no one (other than you!) wants to read it, and there are no rules. Yay! Yes, journaling is typically done in a notebook with a pen or pencil. Typically. But journaling can be done in many different ways. As you wish m’lady. I have a few tips, prompts, and ideas to get you started, but it really is…as YOU wish, m’lady. You can write, draw, colour, use stickers, paint, or do all five. Once you’re tapping into your thoughts, feelings, and behaviours, and reflecting on them, that’s job done.

Journaling Idea 1

But before I get to those, you might be wondering what the deal is? If I ain’t gotta write, why would I write, right? Right. Journaling can be done for many different reasons – maybe you want to get to know yourself a bit more, maybe you want to work on changing behaviour, maybe you just want to see what’s going on in your mind. And there are many benefits. Wins. Bonuses. Gains. And glow-ups. 


So, what are the benefits of journaling?

Number 1, it allows us to brain dump. You know all of that stuff you’re carrying around with you, day after day, week after week? All of those swirling thoughts that aren’t actually going anywhere other than around in circles in your mind? You get to put them down. Literally. On paper. This allows us to see what’s going on in our minds. And you might be surprised by what’s in there. You might be surprised at the sheer amount of stuff you’re carrying around in your little noggin. It’s probably exhausted – give it a break and write it down. 


Number 2, it allows us to problem-solve with clarity. When you’re trying to problem-solve in your mind, it doesn’t always work because there’s no space for clarity and perspective when the mind is clogged up. 


Number 3, after the dumping and the clarity, comes self-awareness. You start to see patterns in how you’re thinking and feeling, how you’re responding to things and people. You might start to notice there are some things you really like about your character and you might spot a couple of things you’d like to change. Why would you want to know all of this? Because YOU are your best ally, your best tool, your best weapon, your best friend, and your best boss. YOU need to get to know YOU at some stage, so why not now?


Don’t believe me? I dare you to try it. You have to be consistent though. Try it every day for a week. Try it every day for 2 weeks. The ultimate challenge? Try it every day for 40 days with zero interruptions. If you miss a day, you’re back to 0. Why 40 days? Not because of Lent but neuroscientists have discovered that if we do something new for 40 days, the grey matter of the brain actually starts to change. Fancy that! 


Ready to go? I’ve got 5 daily prompts and 30 personal development prompts to kick you off…


(And, go to Google, type mind map or spidogram, and go to images – that’s an alternative to writing if you’re so over that.)



Daily Prompts

  1. On a scale of 1 to 10 (1 being really sad and 10 being happy) where am I today?
  2. What other feelings am I feeling? (go to Google, type in Feelings Wheel, go to images, and see which other ones resonate with you)
  3. What happened today? Where did I go, who did I see, who did I talk to, what did I do?
  4. How did I behave/respond to those people and things?
  5. Would I change anything?


Personal Development Prompts:

  1. What am I grateful for right now? Start with 5 things.
  2. If I could change one thing in my life what would it be?
  3. What currently brings me the most joy and happiness?
  4. What’s one thing I wish I were better at?
  5. What’s my favorite thing about myself?
  6. What is one achievement I am most proud of?
  7. Do I feel physically healthy? Why or why not?
  8. If I received e10,000 every month and I had to spend it all, what would I spend it on? (you can save it, spend it, donate it, invest it, whatever you want)
  9. Who is my biggest inspiration? Why?
  10. What’s my dream job? 
  11. What’s something I struggle with?
  12. What are 10 things I like about myself?
  13. What have I been thinking a lot about lately? (just starting writing and see what pops up)
  14. What is my biggest fear? Why and what can I do about it?
  15. What makes me unique?
  16. What is one thing I’ve always wanted to learn more about?
  17. Do I care about what other people think of me? Why?
  18. How do I react to negative feelings?
  19. What are my favorite hobbies? Do I do them enough?
  20. What are 5 insecurities I have about myself? How can I change them?
  21. What is the funniest memory I have that always makes me laugh out loud?
  22. What are the 2 things I can do daily to improve my life in some way?
  23. If I’m feeling low how do I cheer myself up?
  24. Do I hold grudges? Why? And how can I let them go?
  25. What do I want to be remembered for?
  26. What do I do when I worry about something? 
  27. How do I handle stressful situations?
  28. What was the biggest challenge I overcame in my life and how did I do it?
  29. Are my current routines getting closer to my goals? If not what can I do to change them?
  30. What is one affirmation that makes me feel the most empowered? Say it daily.


Have you tried any of Steph’s journalling tips? Let us know how you got on 😁

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