In case you haven’t noticed, I really like writing. I also find it extremely therapeutic since I tend to express myself best through words. In any case, I have never been one to get into journaling. I’ve tried so many times throughout the years to start a journaling practice, but I could never think about what to write, or what was important enough from my day to write down. However, the concept of “journaling” is extremely broad, and in the context in which I’ll be talking about it today, I want to define the type of journaling I partake in as a type of “writing therapy”. I use journaling as a way to clear my head, work through issues in my life that are bothering me, complain incessantly about day-to-day problems, increase creativity, and discover parts of myself that I never knew existed. And this list is by no means exhaustive. I’ve only been doing this for a short amount of time and I can already tell that on the days I don’t journal (usually due to being too busy, or wanting to sleep later) that I’m not as happy, productive, or positive throughout my day.
If this all sounds like a load of garbage – fear not. I, too, was skeptical that a simple journaling practice could change my life so drastically so quickly. I do two types of journaling. The first, larger portion of my routine, are my “morning pages”. I’m definitely not the first person to “do” morning pages, and I did not create them. The person who inspired me most to start this routine, and who explained the concept to me really well was Victoria, creator of FemmeHead on YouTube. Her video talking about morning pages is a great place to visit for more information, since I’m not going to go into great detail. BUT, I’ll give you the major points.
Essentially, morning pages refers to writing three pages in a standard notebook. This writing is in no way filtered. It’s intended to be a conscious stream of thought. It doesn’t have to make sense, or be written nicely, or anything like that. It is simply you, with a pen to paper, writing down anything and everything that comes to mind for three full pages. On the surface, this seems super simple, and it is. But it is so incredibly transformative that I had no idea how much it would affect my mood going throughout the day, let alone my creativity and outlook on life as well!
When I sit down to write these pages in the morning, which I generally do after I shower while I drink my cold brew coffee, I literally just start writing whatever thought is on my mind. And that’s the point of morning pages – to literally serve as a dump for all your worries, thoughts, problems, complaints. I like to try to air as many of my grievances out onto the page so that I don’t bother people IRL with all the sh*t I have running through my mind. (And let’s be real, I’m not perfect. I still complain, but I try to do it less now that I can let them go in my morning pages.) But, I have found (as have pretty much everyone else who has done this) that morning pages can lead to pretty interesting and transformative realizations about yourself, too.
I’ve found myself complaining about a class one sentence, for example, and then in the next sentence I’m writing about my body image and how I view myself. It’s wild. I can’t believe how raw the thoughts are that pour onto my page as I write them at a very early hour of the morning, sometimes before it’s even light out. Some argue that journaling at this time of day – in the early morning before you’ve done anything else – is the best simply because our egos don’t “wake up” for a couple of hours upon waking, allowing us to be as truthful as possible with ourselves. I completely find this to be true. In the morning, thoughts just pour out, I’m very vulnerable, and I find truths that I never would have accessed if I had done this later in the day.
Also, doing this just really helps clear your mind. If you’re anything like me, you probably have a million things running through your head. Between work, school, friends, and family, life can be overwhelming! Sometimes to the point where you don’t even know what to do or where to go because your brain is literally so blocked up with these stressful thoughts. Morning pages allow you to press the reset button, essentially, so you can begin your day with a clear mind, ready to take on what life throws at you! I really, really cannot stress how much this has helped me. I have skipped a couple of days recently and, honestly, I feel a difference those days. Maybe it’s a placebo effect, but I truly think that “emptying” my mind first thing in the morning improves my mood and productivity. And before anyone calls bullsh*t, just give it a try! You might be surprised!
The second part of my journaling routine is a bit nontraditional in the journaling sense, as I simply answer three questions (what I call the “3 Big Questions”) following the completion of my morning pages. In a separate journal, my beloved Moleskine, I jot down answers to the following three questions:
- What is one thing you are grateful for today?
- What is one thing you’re excited about doing today?
- What makes you happy?
While these three questions appear to be simple, the power they have in shaping my day is incredible. Research show that cultivating gratitude have endless benefits, and it’s really easy to do! I have found that in times when I’m feeling more sad, or lonely, or any sort of negative feeling, pausing to express gratitude always helps put things in perspective and remember that the good in life far outweighs the bad.
The second question is designed to help me think ahead on my day and find something I’m excited about doing. Sounds pretty simple, and I think it makes all the difference when my days are filled to the brim with classes, work, and studying – all seemingly mundane activities at times. But, taking a second to identify even ONE THING that I’m excited about doing helps me get through the day with a positive attitude.
And finally, the last question. This is so broad, but it allows me to identify something in my life that makes me happy (obviously). Maybe it’s a person, a thing, a TV show, a book, a food – it can literally be anything! Again, this helps me identify something positive that makes me excited and that I enjoy having in my life. Not going to lie, a good chunk of time my answer is “coffee” or “Broad City”, and I think those are perfectly acceptable answers!
When it comes down to it, only you can decide if journaling is something that you want to include in your life. While I find these tools incredibly useful in boosting my happiness and clarifying my mind, you might have other tactics that work just as well or better! And I will say, doing this does require me to get up an extra 45 minutes to an hour earlier than I normally would have to, which isn’t something I’m always super excited to do. But, knowing that I’ll get to go about my day happier, more positive, and with a clearer, more creative mind is (usually) enough to get me out of bed and on with my day.
If you took the time to read this whole article, THANK YOU! Your support means the world to me! ❤️ And let me know in the comments below, would you ever try this? Do you think it would be helpful in your life?
For more information about morning pages, I suggest checking out this article! I found it extremely helpful when trying to learn more about them.