I love writing. You might have guessed if you’ve been here often enough. My blog posts are never short and even then I’ve cut them down and hacked back a lot that wasn’t necessary!
So journaling should feel like a natural outlet for me, right?
I’ve never really got into it. I had a diary as a teenager but when I read it back it was just full of angst about boys and friendships. Not exactly enlightening or uplifting.
I used to write a lot of stories as a kid. Mostly Enid Blyton style, focusing on what the adventurous children in my stories were going to eat more than what they were actually up to. No surprises there then that I ended up food blogging then…
My creative writing outlet in my more recent years has become this blog. It’s where I can craft my own words, tell stories, communicate a message and share discoveries, tips and insights. It’s where I come to vent or get things straight in my mind. I’ve always said that blogging is my journaling. I just happen to post it for the whole world to read.
Jennifer Cockcroft’s Moments Journal
When Jennifer Cockcroft sent me one of her Mindful Moments journals to trial I was intrigued. Is it something I would enjoy using? Or get anything out of? Or would I think it was a waste of time?
My perfectionist tendencies got in the way at first. I spent near on a month not even starting until I’d worked out two key things I’ve always wrestled with when it comes to journaling:
1. what time of the day I would fill the journal in
2. wanting to do it every single day
Eventually I had to get over myself. These problems are things I’ve discovered in my personality from trying to complete ‘streaks’ on my Headspace app when meditating in recent years. If I miss a day and drop my ‘streak’ I go into a sulk and abandon it totally.
The ridiculous thing is both meditating and journaling are beneficial even when you don’t do them every day. I’ve had to knock this obsession with consecutives and routine on the head and embrace going with the flow.
In the end I decided I was going to complete the journal in the morning, reflecting on the day before. This is just what works for me and my routine. I’ve tried doing journaling at night in bed but I find it really uncomfortable. Also the judgement from my other half is still something I could do without when I’m trying to be reflective! He means well and he’s only teasing me, but I’d rather be on my own when I’m writing.
How is the journal structured?
When I did get started I found the structure Jennifer gives in her Moments Journal really helpful. Rather than just a big scary empty page there are little boxes to direct your thoughts.
Not just a gratitude journal, this template makes you ponder on the creative, proud, enchanted and self-care moments you took the time for each day.
These are all such positive things to focus on that I really enjoyed taking the time to notice and write down.
I struggle with the word ‘creative’ so I found it a really helpful exercise to make myself write down even one thing I considered creative that I had achieved that day.
The self-care box made me really aware of how often the gym is there, but not much else. Finding other little things I’d done for myself was really useful to reflect on and write down, and as a reminder each day to carve out more time for self-care activity in order to find balance.
Enchanted moments I suppose could sound a bit woo-woo. But as a follow on from doing 3 months of gratitude journaling earlier in the year, this box did rekindle my ability to stop and take in the incredible natural world around me every day, even the tiniest things like amazing cloud formations or a full moon. And enchanted could mean anything really – whatever enchants you.
Jennifer leaves a couple of boxes on the page free for the moments you want to record. Often mine were ‘worry moments’ or ‘frustrated moments’ but occasionally they were ‘ah ha’ moments too. I liked the freedom of this space and the box was a small enough size to not feel intimidated or overwhelmed that I had to write loads. Even a sentence to reflect my feelings from the day was helpful.
There is actually a section at the back of the Moments Journal for ‘release’ moments. You can write things down and then tear them out and throw them away as a symbolic act if you want to. Sadly I only discovered this by the time I’d finished using the journal (read the instructions Vicky!) but I’m not sure I would have used it anyway. I quite like keeping everything together, good or bad.
I’ve shared on my Instagram this week how mindless sometimes life can feel. That everything is spinning by so quickly that you feel like you’re just a by-stander. Having this Moments Journal and a dedicated time each day to physically write down positive things is an incredible exercise in focusing your attention on the things you want to experience more of.
I love the idea that through journaling or being mindful, you are extending the positive moments in life. Squeezing every little bit of goodness out and soaking it in. And better still, attracting more of it in the process.
I feel more and more like all the buzz words we hear are integrally linked, journaling included.
Manifestation, affirmations, journaling, visualisation, gratitude, vision boards, the law-of-attraction. What you focus on you create more of. That’s the underlying principle of all of them.
Whilst writing this blog post I really enjoyed listening to Hashtag Authentic podcast interview with Megan C Hayes all about journaling yourself happy.
From a PhD positive psychologist who has studied the effects of journaling on positive themes it chimed so well with Jennifer’s ethos with the Moments Journal. There are a few comments in there that I thought would be a good way to end this blog post:
Megan recommend journaling 2-3 times a week which actually sounds achievable for me. And it doesn’t conform to this notion of having to keep up a streak or consecutive days at something to see a benefit.
The podcast talked about journaling in a beautiful notebook that you buy especially for journaling. This could be a help or a hindrance – just like me with that perfectionist fear getting started with the Moments Journal. Try not to get caught up in the perfect look and feel and get lost in the process instead.
Journaling can be quite negative and a place to rant and vent. That’s fine if it helps and keeps you sane in moments of stress. But try every so often to find positives you can record too that you want to experience more of in life.
Journaling is like meditation in many ways – directing your attention to the page is like directing your attention to your breathing in meditation. Journaling mindfully and thoughtfully on the positives can make you more appreciative of the good things in your life and as a result you’ll start to spot them more often.
Love the idea of writing a moments journal? Pin this to Pinterest and save so you’ll remember.
I paid for and received an early version of Jennifer Cockcroft’s Moments Journal to help her with the development of this product. All opinions are my own.