5 Ways You Can Start Journaling Today

5 Ways You Can Start Journaling Today

Journaling is an incredibly useful tool for developing self-awareness, practicing creativity, managing your emotions, planning, organising, and more.

Journaling can also help to manage anxiety, reduce stress, and cope with depression.

I have used a journal for as long as I can remember, and am a big advocate for keeping one regularly. Journaling helps me gain clarity, calm my mind, pump myself up for the day ahead, gain insight through reflecting on the day that has passed, and even stretch creatively!

If you’re new to journaling – you may not know where or how to start, and that’s okay! The great thing about journaling is there is no right or wrong way to do it. It’s not an assignment, nor a presentation. It’s for you, so it’s okay if it feels a bit awkward when you first start!

Below are the five different techniques I’ve used when journaling.

1. The Ask & Answer

I’m going to start with the one that’s a bit woo woo, but please bear with me!

If you have something you’re unsure about, write about it as if you were asking someone for advice.

Be honest, and be direct about the problem and your feelings surrounding it. Don’t hold back. Then, conclude it with a question like:

“What’s the best route to take?”
“What would be best to do in this situation?”
“What’s in store for my relationship with X”

Avoid asking why, too much introspection can be counterproductive.

Then, close your eyes, and take three deep breaths, or sometimes I get up, get a glass of water, etc. then come back. The point is to give yourself a bit of space between you and the problem you just spilled onto the page.

Once you’ve created some space between yourself and the journal entry, come back to it and re read what you have written.

Then, write down your response as if it wasn’t you who wrote it down. Write as if you were speaking to another person, maybe a friend or coworker who you are giving advise to. Or (here’s the woo woo bit) channel your higher self or intuition to speak to you.

The most important part of this is to not hesitate and just write what comes out naturally. Try not to overthink it.

I do this often when I’m feeling really strongly about something and need a bit of help making sense of it.

2. The Reflection

Contrary to the ask and answer, the reflection is more similar to a fact finding exercise.

You may have specific questions that you want to ask yourself and reflect on every day such as:

“Was today a good day?”
“Did I do my best today?”
“What was the best and / or worst parts of today?”

OR you can just write down any strong feelings that you had and reflect on what prompted those feelings.

You’ll get the most out of the reflection by leaving the emotion out of it. It shouldn’t be used as a tool to beat yourself up or build resentment against other people. It’s just a way for you to look at your reactions, what prompted them, and what needs to stay the same or change.

I do this in the evening or right before I go to bed as a way to wrap up the day.

3. The Brain Dump

The brain dump has so many uses.

What you do is put your hand to paper and you put everything in your brain onto the page. It’s that easy.

This can be done anytime of day, and can be used for anything! Having strong feelings about something and need some clarity? Brain dump. Have a lot on your plate and need to make sense of it all? Brain dump!

The brain dump is also really useful for lists, organising your thoughts or a task, making notes, or prepping for a meeting.

Brain dumping can also look like just…writing. Write anything and everything that comes into your head. You don’t have to worry about punctuation or structure or if it makes sense, you can literally write the same sentence ten times, it doesn’t matter, it’s just about clearing the cobwebs from your brain. Usually the first couple sentences or paragraphs are pretty shit but then I get into some really juicy stuff and either connect with something that I didn’t know I needed to connect with or some really good ideas come up that I probably wouldn’t have thought about otherwise.

Remember, it doesn’t need to be punctuated, and it doesn’t need to be structured. It doesn’t need to look like anything! It’s literally called a dump for a reason. I do this most often like right when I wake up in the morning or if I have a lot of energy and need to put it somewhere, I free write and see what comes up.

4. The Hype Journal

This is probably my favourite technique and probably the one I go to the most.

The Hype Journal is just a space for your to tell yourself what you need to hear. A space for you to hype yourself up!

Things like:

“You can do this.”

“You got this.”

“Keep going.”

“You’re almost there.”

“Who cares what they think!”

It’s a space for you to back yourself. The things that your mom, or best friend might say to you – you can say these things to yourself!

If you’re having a hard time on starting – I would recommend making a list of all of the things you accomplished. Start from the beginning of your life and acknowledge every single thing you have been able to do. Even the little things. Afterwards, you should feel proud of yourself, and that is the energy you can carry to your hype journal.

Another way you can look at this is to picture your best friend, sister, or the person you love the most and reframe this as if you’re talking to them. Would you tell them how amazing they are? How much value they offer the world? How funny, beautiful, smart and kind they are? Of course you would! So, why not tell yourself the same?

5. The Visualisation

There’s a couple ways of doing this one.

If you have a specific goal in mind, imagine your mind and then write out the exact moment when that goal is achieved, or where you will be when that goal is achieved. Get into the details, if you can. What are you doing? How do you feel? Where are you? What are the people around you saying? If the specifics are hard to imagine, then just focus on the goal being achieved and how you feel about it.

You can also write out a scene from your future – where will you be in one / five / ten years?

I do this when I’m feeling demotivated, because let’s be honest, just because you have goals, it doesn’t mean that you’re going to also have the motivation to do the thing that’s going to help you get there. By writing out the scene, as if I’m already there, I feel more motivated to take action.

Another way to use The Visualisation technique is to write out the day ahead.

Write exactly what you’ll be doing, who will be with you, what you’ll wear, eat, etc. Get specific on details and don’t hold back. It can be useful if you’re feeling anxious in the morning and need to ground yourself.

Don’t forget, journaling is meant to be used as a tool for you to connect with yourself, so be kind to yourself when you’re doing it and don’t be afraid to dig deep. You never know what you will find!

Hey, I’m Courtney.

I really appreciate you taking the time to read this post.

I’m always looking to connect with like minded people, so please say hi and let me know what you’re working on and if I might be able to help.

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How I Take Action When I’m Overwhelmed

How I Take Action When I’m Overwhelmed

I love the feeling of dominating my to do list. When I am organised, taking action and achiveing consistently I feel unstoppable. I know I’m not the only one who’s heart flutters when a tick box is able to be ticked, or a task can be crossed off, and I’m sure I’m not alone when I say “productive” is not and has never been permenant state of being for me.

So the question for me has always been, why is motivation inconsistent? Why do we conquer some days and hesistate and procrasitinate on others? How can we manage the indecisvness and the paralyses when they quickly blind side us so easily? When we’re overwhelmed, how do we still do the things and tick the boxes and cross of the tasks?

I have no idea (anticlimactic I know, I’m sorry), but I have found a way to trick myself into taking action when I am feeling this way. When the youtube video below popped up on my explore page, it was a game changer.

The method Jessica describes in the video is below:

Step one:

Write down everything you need to do. This part is easy. It’s your classic to do list. Get everything that’s poking around in your head onto a peice of paper. Don’t leave anything out.

  1. Walk the dog
  2. Call mom back
  3. Finish first edit of research paper
  4. Finish passport renewal application
  5. Mail passport renewal application
  6. Fold laundry
  7. Buy friend birthday present
  8. Look into hotels for holiday this summer
  9. Go grocery shopping
  10. Go through closet and discard old clothes

Step two:

Grab 3 markers (or coloured pencils, crayons, etc.) and colour code the tasks on your list in terms of urgency.

Red tasks are the priority. These tasks cannot wait and must be done today.

Yellow tasks need to be done within the next three days. You may want to get them done today, because they are important, but it’s vital to be realistic about the deadline. Could you delay this to a few days from now if you had to? If yes, it’s a yellow.

Green tasks do not need to be done within the next couple of days. Maybe these need to be done next week, the week after, or next month, but they don’t have a real urgency at this moment.

  1. Walk the dog
  2. Call mom back
  3. Finish first edit of research paper
  4. Finish passport renewal application
  5. Mail passport renewal application
  6. Fold laundry
  7. Buy friend birthday present
  8. Look into hotels for holiday this summer
  9. Go grocery shopping
  10. Go through closet and discard old clothes

Step three:

Rate each of your tasks in terms of the effort it’s going to take you to complete them. I like to think of effort as a combination of time and concentration.

5/4 stars are the hard ones. These are likely to ones you procrastinate the most. It’s the stuff that will take at least a couple of hours of your time and your concentration.

3 stars will take either less time or less concentration, but will be heavy on the other. (For example, going to the store to get get some food probably doesn’t need a lot of concentration, but may take a fair amount of time.)

2/1 stars are the things you could do in your sleep. For me this looks like mindless activities that are boring: folding laundry, doing dishes, etc. (If I can do it while watching tv, it’s probably a 1 or 2 star. If it will take me less that 5 mintues to do, it’s probably at 1/2 star.)

  1. Walk the dog (* * * 2 Stars)
  2. Call mom back (* * 2 Stars)
  3. Finish first edit of research paper (* * * * 5 Stars)
  4. Finish passport renewal application (* * * * 4 Stars)
  5. Mail passport renewal application (* * * 3 Stars)
  6. Fold laundry (* 1 Star)
  7. Buy friend birthday present (* * * 3 Stars)
  8. Look into hotels for holiday this summer (* * * * 4 Stars)
  9. Go grocery shopping (* * * 3 Stars)
  10. Go through closet and discard old clothes (* * * * 4 Stars)

Step four:

Now that you’ve got some more information on what you need to do, how urgent each task is and how much effort is required for each task, you can decide on a plan of action.

There’s no right or wrong way to tackle this. If you have a lot of red items on your list, then you know you need to do these things today, so it might be easiest to start with the one that’s going to require the least amount of effort to start building momentum. Or maybe you want to start with the task that’s going to take the most amount of effort to get it out of the way, and then you’ll know everything gets easier from there.

The point of this is to clarify what you need to do, acknowledge the urgency of each of the tasks, and being reasonable with your efforts. I’ve used this exercise through periods of depression when it can be really difficult to do even the smallest things, like taking a shower or calling someone back. It also helps me to be realistic about the timelines of tasks I might be worried about. As soon as I write it down and color code it, I realise that actually none of the things I was worried about were urgent, and the anxiety lifts allows me to be present in the day. This is also how I keep the small, mindless tasks at bay and not allow them to overload us by consistently checking in.

Whatever you think will work best for you, probably will, as long as you decide on a plan and then take action.

I’m Courtney and I write about Leadership and Self-Awareness. Thank you for taking the time to read post.

If you would like to connect, please don’t hesitate to reach out via instagram or email.

Drop me a line
hello@smartstyleleadership.com

Let’s hang out

Speak To Yourself Like This

Speak To Yourself Like This

How often do you speak negatively to yourself or about yourself? 

How often do you speak positively to yourself or about yourself? 

Which question was easier to answer? 

My sister used to say something whenever I said anything mean about myself. It usually went like this:

Me, “I look ugly in this shirt”. 

Her, “Don’t talk shit about my sister like that.” 

The first time she said it, I had to pause and think about what she had said. Then I laughed. Whether she realised she was doing it or not, very subtly she was bringing my attention to the words that were coming out of my mouth. I was “talking shit” about myself without even realising. Would I let someone call my sister ugly right in front of me? Hell no – but look how casually it could creep out my mouth about myself. 

We live in a world where #selfcare is translated to lush bath bombs and face masks (and not that there’s anything wrong with that), but there’s more we should be doing to take care of ourselves

Speaking kindly to ourselves and about ourselves will make more of an impact on our mental health (plus it’s free)!

Why do we let those words slip out of our mouths in the first place? 

Is it a defence mechanism? I’ll say it before they do. 

Is it fear? I’ll say it because they’re probably thinking about it anyways. 

It is just familiar territory? I’ll say it because it’s comfortable to believe it

Most of us probably don’t even notice it. It’s likely just the reaction born out of an interpretation our brain has created of an event that has happened.

Or more simply put, Event —> Interpretation —> Emotion —> Response.

Using this framework, you could see how this would happen:

Event – You completed a work assignment and submitted it to your boss who then asked you to redo it because it wasn’t done correctly.

Interpretation – All of your hard work was for nothing because you have had to redo it. Your boss doesn’t think your work is good enough, so you must not be capable of your job.

Emotion – You’re frustrated with yourself because you now have to revisit something you thought was finished. You don’t feel confident in your ability to do the task because you tried and were rejected.

Response – You say, “I’m horrible at this, I’ll never be able to get it right.”

Whether you believe it or not, it all stems from low self worth. And the way to change it starts with the voice in your head. Start paying attention to this voice, and work to change the message to something more kind, and more realistic. 

Using the example above, just because your boss has asked you to redo something does not mean that you’ll never be able to learn how to do it. In fact, studies show you will learn more from failing than from succeeding.

So what should you say instead in this scenario? What about, “I’m upset that I have to redo it but I’m still learning.” 

You can also work to change your negative self-talk by viewing it from another perspective. 

“I’m grateful my boss is giving me a chance to redo this. If it’s not correct, I want to learn how to do it properly.” 

Change your negative self-talk by being more objective. 

Below are some examples of how to flip the script in your head from negative to objective. 

“I’m never going to be able to do this.” -> “I’m struggling to do this and could use some help.”

“I’m so stupid.” -> “I do struggle with math, but will try my best.” 

“I’ll look disgusting in that shirt.” -> “That style usually doesn’t suit me as well as others.”

It is a process to notice and start correcting these patterns, but awareness is the first step towards change. If you’re struggling to see it in yourself, start with paying attention to the way other people talk about themselves. You’re likely to see a pattern with those who are confident and self assured vs. those who are not – the more fragile their state is, the more likely they are to have negative self-talk happening.

Remember, if you wouldn’t let others say it about your best friend – don’t say it about yourself.

Self care = self esteem.

Keep Reading LWLW

Do not work more than you live.

Do not work more than you live.

Yes, I’m talking to you.

You’re ambitious. I know. You have the desire to create. The desire to inspire. The desire to improve. And you’re doing it. You’re finally where you’ve always dreamed you would be. Or maybe just on the horizon. You can see it. You can taste it. You feel and hear it. You’re here.

But you’re tired, and deep down, you can feel it’s not enough.

You don’t want to admit it. You don’t want to say the thing out loud that you know deep inside of you. You don’t want to surrender to the quiet voice in the back of your mind. You can’t bear it – the truth that this life, this dream, this job is not what you thought it was going to be, and something is wrong. You don’t feel grateful to have the things you worked so hard for. You don’t feel inspired to keep going. You wonder if it will always feel this way. You wonder if it was worth it, or if it will ever be.

I’ve experienced this. It’s called burnout. 

One day, I had a job that I loved and was passionate about. I felt like I had to grip it so tightly, take such good care of it, or it would slip out of my hands and I would lose it forever. Two years later, I woke up and realised it was consuming my entire identity. It happened so subtly, and so quickly, that I didn’t have a chance. It disguised itself to me as ambition and achievement, but looking back, I can see it was actually obligation, compulsion and a lack of self awareness which brought me to my knees one morning. 

I was tired, and deep down, I could feel that it was not enough.

When you’re underneath the water, it’s hard to recognise that you’re soaking wet.

If you can identify with any of this, you may need what I needed, and that was to realise that my relationship with work was taking over my life. It wasn’t easy (surrendering rarely is), but once I let go, I finally had the strength to pull myself out of the water and dry myself off.

Three things you can do to start your journey to fighting burnout today:

  1. Realising you need help is the first step. Take a deep breath and know that you’re going to be okay. It’s not the actual work which is the issue, but your relationship to it. The good news is there are plenty of groups, programs, and people that can help you uncover the root of where your burnout might be coming from. All you need to do is ask for the help that you need.
  2. Make time every day for the things that bring you joy and only joy. This is important – it is not the things that bring you money, not the things that bring you titles, not the things that bring you physical results, but instead the things that fill your heart up in a way only you would know.
  3. Start setting small boundaries at work and keep them. Leave on time. Don’t answer emails after 6pm. Don’t volunteer to do more work than you need to. Even if it’s just once a week for now, pick one of these and stick to it. Any progress you begin to make is a win, so don’t worry about going big. Small steps are all it takes to get to where you want to be.

Eventually, your life will start to take shape into something that you have control over again, but even better – your life will start to feel like your life, and you’ll be safe and dry on the shore.

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