The modern era makes you believe that being a social butterfly is how everyone needs to be. Well, I got into the norm, too. Sine childhood, I was an introverted kid but the education system kind of made me think, ‘no, we all need to be the same way extroverted’.
And when I tried to be someone I wasn’t, my true nature didn’t align with it, that lead to a situation where I was more anxious, frustrated, self-grudging, and bitter in my heart, which finally lead to depression. No, I am not writing the story of my life what I am trying to say is how journaling helped me get out of those situations.
I remember when I was in what you call the dark night of the soul (well, depression, I was trying to be fancy with the words), I wanted to talk to someone but nobody exactly understood because four years back, depression was still something very uncommon in an Indian family.
My parents gave me everything they thought was important for good life (good education, good food ,clothes, safety, home, etc.) but depression was something really fancy to them and it’s totally not their fault. Back then, no one knew much about depression in our locality. I used to scribble down my thoughts and emotions in diary but I had no particular idea of journaling . Still jotting down these thoughts, emotions helped me escape that mindspace .
It was two years ago when I started journaling for the first time, after reading Swamiji’s A Million Thoughts. I didn’t have any basic ideas on how to journal. And after doing it for two years, I have got some experience on what to exactly put in a journal. So here I am gonna put a basic structure to maintain a journal. But feel free to add and subtract as per your requirement (your work status, goals, time, etc).
Journaling has multiple benefits some of the greatest poets and writers used to journal (WH Auden, Oscar Wilde, Mark Twain, Anne Frank to name a few). It helped them practice their principles, be creative and purge the mind of agitation. Journaling can increase productivity, help cope with traumatic situations, improve communication skills, help you be more optimistic, help you sleep better (if done before bed time) and much more.
Journaling can help everyone, especially if you’re introverted and are in your teens, when you’re hormones are going all crazy and you’re in a rollercoaster ride of your emotions, thoughts, anxiety — this is surely gonna help. And if you believe in God, you can jot down your emotions as if you’re writing a letter to the divine. Or if you don’t believe in God, you can write as if you are writing to yourself. In this modern world when everyone is busy with their tech gadgets and nobody has got time to listen, you have to be your own best friend.
Without making this post longer, here’s all you need to know before you start to journal. ✨ ✨✨✨✨
Things you need:
1. A Journal: You can use a notebook or a diary if you don’t have a journal
2 .Pen: You can use a colour pen, gel pen, calligraphy pen, fountain pen whatever you have
3. Sketches and Colours: This is optional but if you like doodling and being creative, you can use it. And, doodling itself can be a stress-releasing activity
4. Few bookmark to mark some pages that you frequently need to visit. Again this is optional
5. Pencil, Ruler, Eraser, etc.
What to Write in Your Journal:
1. Year and Month Covers: If you like to doodle and sketch, you can get creative and draw the front cover. You can look at Pinterest for inspiration (type bullet journal front cover). I do this at the beginning of the year (takes me 3 to 4 hrs). But if you don’t like doodling or you don’t have the time, you can just write the year and month name simply.
2. Meditation Journal: This I learned from Swamiji’s A Million Thoughts. It contains quality of meditation in which you need to include: Mindfulness, Alertness, Concentration, Posture, Duration, Mood. You draw three columns for your morning, evening, night meditation, and mark yourself from 1 to 10. Second it contains Blocks/Hurdles: dullness, restlessness, emotions, thoughts, physical pain, other reasons, and again divide in three columns and mark from one to ten. Third is virtues: humility, compassion, silence, gratitude, awareness, and again divide into three columns and mark from one to ten. I do this at the beginning of year and it takes me about 3 to 4hrs. But you can make a template in your laptop and print it out to save time.
3. Daily Journal: This is also from Swamiji’s book. For this, you need to write two things you are grateful for, two reasons why you loved yourself today, one thing you would like to be, one thing you want to learn, two things that would make you a better person.
4. Habit Tracker: In this, you can track any new habit that you want to incorporate into your life. It might be anything from exercise regularly, eat more green, sleep and wake early, reading few pages of book daily, do a RAK daily, to be more present in the moment, etc. When you have choosen a habbit keep on doing it for a minimum of 66 days till it becomes your second nature. But do choose one habbit at a time. Then you need to write the number of days in that month and put a tick or colour the particular day in your journal when you observed that habit and cross out when you didn’t. When I was first trying to exercise daily, it was difficult but now after doing it for so long, I find it more difficult to skip my exercise regimen. Once it becomes your second nature, it’s gonna be effortless.
5. Monthly Goals:Here you can write down all important events, goals, projects that you need to complete in a particular month. You can explain it more vividly by dividing it further into weekly and daily goals.
6 . Mindspace: In this page you can add all the emotions, thoughts, tendencies stuck up in your mind that is difficult to overcome and write solutions on what you can do to overcome it. For example: How is the day going ? 1. Feeling anxious 2. XYZ didn’t behaved properly
What can I do?: 1. Breathe more, drink water, try to live the present moment 2. Maybe XYZ had faced something really bad today, maybe I can talk to XYZ about this.
This is all that I put in my journal but you can add or subtract according to your requirement. Hope you got some basic idea on how to maintain a journal daily. It takes me about 5 minutes to journal daily before bed. So happy journaling and Happy Sunday.
*Forever grateful to you for giving your precious time and reading this post. Don’t forget to smile and make others smile.
Jay Radhe Shyam