And you don’t even have to break a sweat.
At the end of a long and stressful work day, all I want to do is climb into bed and watch a movie or an episode of my favorite television show.
However, for the past few months, I’ve refrained from doing so. Instead, I have forced myself to complete a 10 minute exercise each and every night before I turn on the television.
This exercise has played a crucial role in my evening routine, and it doesn’t involve any physical exertion. Rather, it is an exercise of the mind called journaling.
Let me just say that I was a skeptic at first. While I have journaled periodically throughout my life, I have never done it in a consistent, organized manner like I did this month.
Honestly, it’s made a huge difference in both my motivation and productivity, which I certainly did not expect. Here’s everything journaling has done for me this past month, and why I think you should try out the simple 10 minute mental exercise.
Journaling forced me to hold myself accountable.
Even if you’re someone who is very disciplined, works hard, and follows a rigid schedule, there are times when you won’t be motivated to do the tasks that you need to. After all, everyone struggles with something, whether it be work, relationships, physical health, mental health, etc. This is where journaling comes in.
If you journal each night about what you accomplished throughout the day, and track your habits using a habit tracker, you can quickly and easily identify what is going well and what you need to work on.
For three nights in a row last month, I was unable to fill in my habit box for sleeping 8 hours. I could quickly and easily see that I needed to prioritize sleep, so I made some adjustments, like going to bed earlier, to ensure that I got back on track.
With just 10 minutes of journaling, accountability was thrust upon me. All my successes and failures were laid out in front of me each day, and there was no disputing whether or not I accomplished what I promised myself I would.
I was able to address my emotions.
Each night when I journaled, I made sure to include how I felt overall throughout the day, and also how I felt as I completed certain tasks.
For example, I usually exercise for about 30 minutes in the morning. In the evening, I’ll often journal a few sentences about whether my workout energized me, if I felt tired during it, etc.
Not only does journaling keep you from bottling your emotions up, but it also allows you to reflect on them. If you have dreaded your workouts for a week straight and struggled to complete them, those could be signs it’s time to take a rest day.
Through 10 minutes of journaling, you can address a whole day’s worth of emotions in a healthy and productive way.
It felt incredibly therapeutic.
The feeling of putting pen to paper is unlike anything else. There’s a reason I journal in a notebook rather than on a word document on my computer.
Writing in a journal creates a tangible work of art that is constructed entirely from your own mind. The act of journaling is a relaxing way to close out your day. It can even help relieve stress. In fact,
“Journaling, as a stress management and self-exploration tool, works best when done consistently, but even occasional, sporadic journaling can be stress relieving when the practice is focused on gratitude or emotional processing.”
I am a chronic worrier who gets easily stressed. When I was in college, whenever I was assigned a project, even if it wasn’t due for a week, I started on it that very same day. No matter how much I got done, if I didn’t complete it that day, I would worry about all the what-ifs.
What if I couldn’t complete it in time? What if I got stuck on one specific part? What if I finished it and didn’t like how it turned out? What if I got a bad grade?
I think you get the idea. I wish I had consistently journaled back then, because I truly do think it would have helped me manage some of my stress in a healthier way.
If you’re feeling overwhelmed by your work, don’t make the same mistakes I did and bottle it up. Find a creative outlet to channel some of that emotion, like journaling.
Here’s how to set up your journal for success.
There are so many unique ways you can set up your own journal. I like to fill in a blank bullet journal with my own style and flair (and a lot of color). The bullet journal is great because the pages are made up of dots rather than lines. It is described as:
“Equal parts day planner, diary, and written meditation, bullet journaling turns the chaos of coordinating your life into a streamlined system that helps you be more productive and reach your personal and professional goals.”
I like to track my habits, hydration, sleep, workouts, plan out meals, etc. In doing so, I I feel motivated to get work done, I save money at the grocery store because I only buy what I need, and I can visually see which daily habits I’m failing to stick to.
I also have plenty of empty pages to journal in. I simply write down the date, then use a block of space for 10 minutes of journaling at the end of each night.
If you have yet to try journaling, it’s certainly worth the time. It is a creative outlet that allows you to reflect at the end of each day.
I didn’t think that 10 minutes of journaling at the end of each night would have the impact on my day-to-day life that it did, but I was pleasantly surprised. Journaling allowed me to address issues as they occurred, like a skipped day of blogging or a few days of poor sleep, in a fun and productive way.
Ending each night with a short mental exercise might be exactly what you need to reflect on your work day and prepare yourself for many successful and productive days ahead.