It might not seem an obvious link, but writing a self care journal is part of your journey to a more sustainable life. I’ve put together some top tips about how you can get journalling and reap the benefits for your well being.
But how does writing a self care journal link to sustainability?
I’ve recently started journal writing as a means to help settle my mind before I go to sleep. For me it’s a way of expressing feelings that can otherwise preoccupy me. This type of writing fits well with my daily ritual of meditation. You might think it’s strange for me, a sustainability professional, to be writing about journalling. But to me it is part of my approach to sustainability. Sustaining myself through self care means that I can carry on with my campaigning.
What is expressive journal writing?
Journal writing is about recording personal insights, thoughts and reflections about particular personal topics. I have been exploring a technique called ‘expressive writing’. Expressive writing for me is simply to spend time writing about my feelings, those that are recurring and that could be bothering me.
Journaling, or expressive writing, was first investigated as a mechanism for self care by Professor James Pennebacker in the 1980s. His research showed that expressive writing could boost immunity and help healing. He even found that it reduced visits to the Doctor’s, improved the immune system and even decreased the time it took for wounds to heal!
How to start your self care journal
It’s easy to start this type of expressive writing. Just set aside 15 minutes to write about any worries that you may have. I do my writing before I go to bed. The idea is not to censor yourself but let it flow. Laugh or cry if that’s what you feel the need to do. I like to combine my writing with a gratitude diary – writing down 5 things that I am grateful for. Another way to live more mindfully and reap the benefits of self reflection and acceptance.
My 10 top tips for writing a self care journal
1. Set aside just 15 minutes a day
2. Choose a time when you won’t be disturbed
3. You can write about anything, your worries are a good start
4. Don’t censor yourself, just record whatever comes into your thoughts
5. Grammar doesn’t matter, it’s more about the act of writing
6. There is no need to keep what you write. You don’t even need to read it back to benefit from this technique
7. You don’t need any special books or pens, but if you want them, go right ahead and choose some
8. Don’t beat yourself up if you miss a day, just start again the next day
9. Whatever comes up when you’re writing is just fine. It’s OK to cry, or even laugh when you’re writing.
10. If you need some encouragement in a safe space, why not join a workshop or writing group?
Showing up with your journal writing can have many therapeutic benefits
We are so often told not to dwell on our so-called ‘negative’ thoughts and feelings. But expressive writing encourages us not to judge ourselves and our thoughts. And who knew that doing expressive can actually be beneficial to so many aspects of our wellbeing?
Studies have shown that regular expressive writing can have a multitude of positive benefits to our mental and physical health. Such as improving sleep quality, reducing anxiety, lowering blood pressure, helping with depression, and easing muscle pain and stress.
The benefits of expressive writing has even been featured on Michael Mosley’s Radio 4 programme, Just One Thing. It’s worth a listen and will give you more tips to get started.
Don’t want to journal alone? Why not join a writing group?
A quick online search for expressive writing will likely bring up a group local to you. If you are in Nottingham or the East Midlands, Shop Zero has some good links with local, creative writers. And we offer regular, supportive expressive writing and mediation workshops. You can keep an eye on our zero waste events here.
Have you tried expressive writing? Let me know how it has helped you with your self care.