Journaling can be such an amazing tool for family Caregivers. It serves as a creative outlet to express yourself and allow journal entries to become forms of artistic expression. Beyond that, its proven to have physical and cognitive benefits on memory, comprehension and lowering anxiety. It can be a powerful way to integrate mindfulness and self-development into your daily life and help you identify, categorize, and analyze experiences and use them for personal reflection and growth. By taking the time to write down your experiences, you’re able to reflect on the lessons they offer, identify reoccurring thoughts, habits and patterns in your life that you can work on.
There are a few different ways you can “journal”. It looks different for everyone! A few examples:
- Pen to paper: This is most common…there is something about taking thoughts and writing them out. Feel free to add sketches or doodles and integrate design for a creative outlet.
- Email account: Send emails as a “journal entry” to a designated account that is intended just for you, or others as well.
- Journal app on your phone: Search the App Store on your phone to find different capabilities, prompts and even themes like “self care”.
- Voice memo/journal: Use the voice memo app on your phone or voice apps you can download. Sometimes verbalizing is easier and more free flowing than writing. This is a great option if the fine motor skills for writing is difficult.
- Blog: this is a journal that’s posted to a website that has daily or weekly entries with information, lessons learned, adventures, etc. It’s a great outlet to express yourself and share with others.
Once you choose your medium, what do you journal about?? The good news: there are no rules! Be open to letting the process unfold itself. Here are some ideas to get you started:
- “Dear Diary”: aka, the daily brain dump. What’s on your mind? Vent, work through the wins and losses of the day and express your emotions.
- Themed Journal prompts: You can find these online, books of journal prompts on Amazon, in apps on your phone, create your own or even collaborate with a group. It’s a way to dive deeper into an idea or perspective.
- Gratitude Journal: My favorite! Write 3 NEW things everyday you are grateful for. Expand as you feel compelled to. FYI: the first few days are easy, but looking for NEW things everyday becomes a skill and powerful way to see the world.
- Scripture: Pick out a daily verse and dig into what it means to you.
- Write about your journey/lessons learned: The Caregiver journey aint easy! Sharing your story and lessons can be gratifying to yourself AND inspiring to others. Blogs can be powerful tool for this or even a monthly meet up or zoom with friends to share your entries in a safe place.
Once you have HOW you’re going to journal and WHAT you’re going to journal about…all you have to do is START. Make it easy on yourself to combine journaling into your daily life so you can really see the benefits. Have your journal in a place you will be reminded to write in it. If you add your journaling to a routine you already have like daily prayer or an evening self care routine, it will much easier to integrate.
Here’s a journal prompt to help get you started: What is something you learned about yourself in the past year that you previously didn’t know about yourself?