Journaling for Growth: Using Writing to Reflect, Set Goals, and Cultivate Gratitude
According to one recent survey, three in five Americans say their stress levels are at an all-time high. Nearly 60 percent say that the past year has been the most stressful one they've ever experienced.
Would you agree?
If you're finding it difficult to catch your breath and soak in the world around you, you're not alone. Many people strive to attain what society defines as “success,” only to find that they're burned out and stretched too thin. When was the last time you re-envisioned the goals you've set for yourself?
Journaling for growth is an empowering step on your wellness journey. Today, we're sharing some of the top reasons to keep a journal and what makes it such an effective, enriching practice.
The Benefits of Journaling
If you're like many people, you may have started a journal in the past, only to abandon the effort after a few weeks. If this is the case, we encourage you to try it again. Instead of seeing it as a task or something you have to do, reframe it as a moment of quiet reflection that you're taking just for yourself.
By setting aside just five to 10 minutes each day, you can reap the incredible benefits of journaling. Some of the top ones include:
- Finding healthy and healing ways to cope with stress
- Reducing anxiety and improving your overall mood
- Gaining self-confidence through positive affirmations and reflections
- Creating space to process your emotions
- Rediscovering your personal needs and wants
- Looking at situations objectively and seeing the bigger picture
By reducing your stress and anxiety, journaling also helps improve your overall health. From lower blood pressure to better sleep hygiene, you'll notice the difference in your entire body when you add journal writing to your daily routine.
Reasons to Keep a Self-Improvement Journal
Until now, you may have viewed journaling strictly as an opportunity to recap your day. For some people, that's exactly what it is! Journaling can help you go through the events you experienced recently, so you can put words to the emotions you might be feeling about certain encounters or conversations you had.
However, it's also helpful to expand your mindset a little and use journaling as a chance to dream. Journaling for growth means writing down your goals and intentions, and brainstorming ways you can achieve them.
Right now, your head might be filled with all of the big plans you have for your future, so you might wonder why you need to write them down. In fact, doing so might make them seem a little intimidating. Many of us harbor really ambitious aspirations in our hearts, and putting them down on paper can seem scary.
Yet, there are many reasons why it's helpful to do so. The benefits of journaling about your goals include:
- Helps you clarify what you want to achieve
- Makes your goals more measurable and specific
- Allows you to track your progress toward your goals
- Helps you visualize how far you've come and the improvements you've made
- Helps you understand where you need to make changes
You don't have to write volumes about each target you want to reach. However, it is helpful to expand a little, explaining what makes the goal important and how you plan to achieve it. As you progress with your self-improvement journal, it will become easier to see the strides you've made and how close you are to completing each task.
Setting Actionable Goals
Before you begin writing plans and timelines in your self-improvement journal, it helps to have a strategy in place. These goal-setting tips will help you structure your thoughts:
- Choose goals that align with your passions
- Choose goals that are specific and actionable
- Reward yourself when you reach a goal
- List your goals in order of priority
It can also help to visualize yourself successfully completing a goal you've set. What does it look and feel like? When you can mentally take yourself across the finish line, taking that first step doesn't seem quite as daunting.
We have a couple of great tools to help create a journaling habit. Our core values and 10-year goals worksheet is a great tool to help you clearly define your goals. The free 12-week wellness and happiness workbook can assist you with exercises that help you live a healthier and happier life.
Reasons to Keep a Gratitude Journal
Did you know that giving thanks for the big and little things in life can actually make you happier? Researchers have found that practicing gratitude for just five minutes a day is enough to raise your happiness level by 25 percent.
You can take a few minutes to reflect and feel grateful anywhere, at any time. This is a practice you can participate in while you're getting ready in the morning, driving down the road, or preparing dinner. However, it's easy to get off track when you only engage in the activity sporadically.
Keeping a gratitude journal is a more intentional and mindful way to approach this element of self-reflection. The way you approach this step is entirely up to you. Some people find it easier to free-write, jotting down all of the things they're grateful for in a narrative fashion as the thoughts arise.
For others, it's more enjoyable to simply make a quick list of those special things, people, and moments they cherish. Instead of overloading yourself, set a goal to write three to five things that brought you joy that day. You may find that you begin to look forward to this task, and you can expand your list from there.
Try Journaling for Growth and Gratitude
Even if you don't consider yourself a great writer, journal writing can be an integral part of your wellness journey. It gives you a tangible place to put your goal-setting tips into practice and turn your dreams into reality. It can also be a beautiful place to reflect and enter into a state of gratitude.
Setting goals and feeling grateful can both improve your well-being from the inside out. Journaling for growth can lower your stress levels, reduce anxiety, and give you something to look forward to. At Heal Nourish Grow, we have many different resources to support you on this journey, from recipes and books to our podcast and coaching services.
To learn more and get started, reach out to us today.