Many experts advise that writing in a journal helps to relieve stress and clear the mind of the endless “chatter” that goes on inside our overloaded and constantly preoccupied minds. However, getting into the habit of keeping a journal can be a challenge. There is always an excuse of no time, too many interruptions, or nothing to write about that keeps us from connecting with ourselves via pen and paper.
For moms traveling without the kids, a journal can provide the perfect sanity tool for those solitary pockets of time on flights, at check-in gates, and in our hotel rooms. These moments are perfect for self-reflection and provide an opportunity to capture our thoughts minus the usual distractions found at home. As well, a change of scenery often sparks new thoughts, ideas, and dreams, or spurs us to reach back to a particular memory as our thinking becomes disassociated with everyday routines.
“Everyone should write a little every day of their lives,” says Elizabeth Cohen, a published writer, poet, and journalist. “It is YOUR life and keeping a journal is a way to hold onto key memories and track what you are doing, what you have done, and the meaningful moments that happen as a result.”
A journal can also help you think through a situation, solve an issue, or work through a decision. Writing in a journal is an adventure in self-discovery, especially when you take time at a future date to reread your entries.
Want to get started with a journal? Here are some suggestions:
Choose your mode and method. Some women, like Cohen, prefer treating themselves to a really nice leather notebook and pen that they love. Others, like me, journal best with a spiral notebook and a ball point pen. The key is to find what you are most comfortable with and start writing!
Choose your frequency. While it’s true that writing in a journal every day helps make it a habit, sometimes it’s not realistic. Try writing during long distance trips, or the five days a week you commute on the train. Or choose a time one day a week when you can write for 30 minutes to an hour uninterrupted, and capture the week in a snapshot entry.
What to write about. Even professional writers get stuck on subject matter. Cohen suggests the best warm-up activity is to read something marvelous that makes you want to write. Another start-up method is to choose a simple writing prompt: describe your desk, the last funny thing that happened to you, or something you’re mad about. Don’t think too much about the words. Just write.
Take advantage of technology. For some, it’s easier to type their thoughts than to write them. Create a folder called “Personal Journal” and save your entries in word documents. Or start a blog and write each posting to serve as a journal entry. Blogs are easy to set up through one of the many online sites like toblogspot.com, blogger.com, or wordpress.com.