The Journaling Series: Setting the scene for journaling success
Setting the scene for journaling success
Journaling is a powerful tool for self-development. It can help you to work through issues you are facing, plan and prep for goals you want to achieve, pinpoint patterns in your thoughts and behaviours, and ultimately get to know yourself and your experience of the world better.
There are lots of ways to get the most out of your journal in terms of when and where you choose to write, what type of journal you choose to use and whether you use prompts or free flow. But there are other factors that you can consider to make journaling as enjoyable as possible. In this article, we will cover some of our favourite tools for setting the scene in order to truly get the most out of your journaling each day.
Anchoring is a fantastic tool for grounding yourself to set yourself up for a good journaling session. Anchoring is something that occurs naturally every day, an anchor is a trigger – be it touch, smell, taste, that causes an emotional response. Have you ever heard a song that immediately takes you back to a holiday you went on years ago? Or smelled a scent that does the same? Anchors can be so effective you can almost feel yourself being back in that exact moment, reliving that memory. The best part is, you can create an anchor yourself and we are going to tell you how to do it.
Sit somewhere comfortable with your feet on the ground and your hands gently resting in your lap. Take a few deep breaths, inhaling through your nose and exhaling through your mouth.
Picture a time when you felt really relaxed. Think about any sights you can see, any sounds, any smells that tie into this time. Allow that relaxation to spread throughout your body, through your face, your shoulders, your hands, legs and feet. Now press one of your knuckles and hold. Imagine all of that relaxation flowing through your fingertips into your knuckle. After 10 seconds, release your knuckle and shake yourself off, then embody your state of relaxation again and repeat. That’s all there is to it. Try to do this as regularly as possible over the first few weeks to really cement the anchor. The more you do it, the stronger it will be but if you don’t do it regularly it won’t stick.
You can create anchors for any emotional state you would like to feel more of, creativity, productivity, motivation. Whatever will help you the most. Then next time you sit down to journal, fire off your anchor by pressing your knuckle and use that state to help your flow.
Breathwork is the fancy word for… you guessed it, breathing! Breathing is of course an essential to keeping us humans alive, but there are lots of exercises we can do to use our breathing to improve our emotional and mental states.
There are many different types of breathwork and you will find a number of breathwork exercises in our Mind Notes journal. By turning our focus inwards and beginning to notice how we breathe we can start to identify how we might be able to slow down and use our breath in a more efficient way. When we slow down our breath, it has a positive effect on our vagus nerve which are the main nerves in our parasympathetic nervous system – the system responsible for ‘rest and digest’ aka the system that counterbalances the ‘fight or flight’ response. Slow abdominal breathing lowers our heart rate and stimulates the vagus nerve which will lead to calm and relaxation.
Take right now for example, have you noticed how you are breathing? Try focusing in on whether you are taking short sharp breaths or long, deep breaths. Slow your breathing down to see how that changes your emotional state.
Changing our breathing whilst journaling can help us to feel a sense of calm and therefore have a much more productive writing session.
Journaling doesn’t just have to involve writing. Of course, in the traditional sense, journaling is the act of putting thoughts to paper however there can be huge value in using a journaling session to do some mindful colouring. Mindful colouring has been shown to help with relaxation and mental wellbeing, reducing stress and letting any negative thoughts or emotions pass as you colour between the lines.
We have included mindful colouring pages in both our Mind Notes journal and our Morning Notes journal for this exact reason. On the days when you are struggling to write, try colouring instead and notice how your stresses slip away.
Creating a ritual
We love rituals here at LSW London. So much so, we have an entire category dedicated to rituals in our Mind Cards.
To us, a ritual is a small routine created around a habit which lead to becoming more present and aware of the thoughts and emotions that come with the action. For example, you could create a ritual out of making a cup of tea – always choosing your favourite mug, noticing the sounds as the kettle rumbles to a boil, the feel of the warm mug in your hands, the taste of the drink as it touches your lips. Noticing every sense that you experience fully as you focus in on the act.
Rituals can be fantastic for journaling too. Find a pen that you love the feel of when you write, a book that has a lovely texture and feel to it. Take time to choose your favourite spot in the house wherever that might be, maybe even choose a certain time of day when the sun shines through a window to feel the warmth on your skin. By building a ritual, you are creating a space just for you that immediately brings a sense of grounding and calm to your session.
Next time you sit down for a journaling session, set the scene using one or all of the above. Don’t forget to tag us in your scene setting @lswmindcards