Many busy moms – working and stay-at-home – barely have time for themselves in a week, let alone each day. Sitting down with a hot cup of fragrant herbal tea to journal their thoughts is a luxury most moms don’t take. But they should.
One of the best ways you can encourage yourself to journal is to buy yourself something pretty. Much like a new dress inspires a night out on the town or at least dinner, an attractive journal can lure you into putting pen on paper.
Even the quickest internet search reveals a stunning selection of journals. Most retail for around $30. Perhaps this is expensive for a book of empty pages, but maybe the price tag will guilt even the most reluctant writer into filling them.
You’ll quickly discover there’s no shortage of beautiful journals for every taste. If you secretly think of yourself as a princess, find a journal that speaks to your inner tiara. If you’re a secret (or no-so-secret) hippy, think swirling designs and mystical art. Or, go “eco” with earth tones, animal figures and 100 per cent recycled material.
However, a special journal is not required. Even the most basic notebook from an office supply store becomes a work of art when graced with original ink. It’s simply a matter of making the time. But how?
Between work, kids and that special someone in your life, there’s precious few moments available for you – just you. That said, even the most hectic schedules can make room for a daily journal entry.
First, make it a ritual. Whether it’s immediately after the kids are tucked in at night, or first thing in the morning before they wake up, set aside 15 minutes to journal. Yes, that’s all it takes! Dedicating the same time each day helps establish journaling as a habit.
If you’re not a creature of habit, adding enticements can turn journaling into something to look forward to. Incorporating a cup of tea, burning incense or crawling into a favourite arm chair will turn it into a ritual. It won’t be long until journaling transforms from habit to ritual to need.
Second, it’s easy to make time for this supposed indulgence once you recognize the benefits – for both your well-being and your family’s. And what exactly are they?
Journaling has the potential to greatly reduce a busy mom’s stress. Think of journaling as your release valve, or steam vent. The Canadian Mental Health Association recommends expressing yourself in a journal to “gain perspective (and) release tension.”
In fact, Dr. James W. Pennebaker, a researcher at the University of Texas, says journaling can dissipate anger, ease depression, facilitate problem solving – even prevent illness.
Although more studies need to be done to determine exactly how journaling helps maintain mental wellness, do you really care about the science if it works? Many women may feel 15 minutes away from work is selfish; or stolen time from family togetherness. But if you find journaling reduces stress in your life, making you healthier and happier, that’s good for everyone.
Besides, you may also find your journal pays off in unexpected ways.
A journal doesn’t necessarily have to be a venue to vent or pour out one’s deepest darkest emotions like a lovesick teenager. It can also be used to record family history or document children’s milestones as they blossom and grow.
A picture of your son’s first steps or a video of your daughter’s first words may be worth a thousand more. Journal entries about these emotional moments are like a letter to yourself in the future – and a delight when your children are older.
Your own words not only capture the moment, but also your hopes and dreams.
Writer’s block? Try these prompts.
For health benefits, Dr. Pennebaker suggests writing about something you:
– are thinking or worrying about too much - are dreaming about - feel is affecting your life in an unhealthy way - have been avoiding for days, weeks, or years
And just for fun, write about:
-your favorite pair of shoes
-your daughter’s hilarious “from-the-mouth-of-babes” one-liner at the dinner table
-the blueberry pancakes you completely botched
-your perfect vacation
Recommended Reads: Books on Journaling
Writing Down the Bones by Natalie Goldberg
The Artist’s Way Morning Pages Journal by Julia Cameron
Journal to the Self by Kathleen Adams