Using journals for well-being

Posted August 31, 2016

If the word “journal” conjures an eye-roll or visions of dusty family history tomes, think again. Learning and personal journals are a key way to reconnect with ourselves. As we enjoy the method, we’ll limit the possible madness.

1. Decide your 'sense' of journaling

This isn’t about writing laborious daily descriptions. Nowadays there are fabulous options for all the senses — choose one that resonates with you. Some ladies like to draw or doodle about their experiences, making them colorful or comic-like.

One woman uses an Instagram journal by taking a picture a day that depicts something meaningful or even mundane. I use my Life Board to post pictures that motivate and inspire, then add companion buzz words.

If you’re more verbal, consider recording moments or ideas using your smartphone — the microphone option writes what you speak, or use the voice memos option. Although you do need to edit or type the text, a simple copy and paste can now go in your journal file. Use what senses are most appealing and you’ll find yourself drawn to “journaling.”

2. Use them for 'emotional thinking'

In our busy lives, we can become quickly disconnected from deeper thinking and feeling. Journaling is an excellent way to reconnect. Writing or recording uses our left brain skills — the analytical — which frees up our right brain for creative problem-solving. In this way, we make connections from what we experience to what we learn from it. This reduces stress as well as generates more joy in daily life.

One way to do that is ask yourself thoughtful questions. Recently, I spoke at BYU Education Week, a week-long conference attended by thousands. In the past I’ve used the preferred lecture-format for larger crowds.

However, this time I mimicked a format used in my monthly women’s program — I taught for a while, asked a few thought-provoking questions, then gave time for the women to journal their thoughts and feelings. Such a marvelous feeling attended those classes, owing to the time and ability to go deep.

Take a few minutes in your day to ask and answer one thought-provoking question — what is my happiest experience this week and why? What is one difficulty that stresses me and the root reason for that? What is one thing that’s keeping me stuck right now and why is that? These answers can provide golden insights and positive action.

3. Do it your way

No need to limit yourself to one hefty journal book, try a few for variety and ease. I use one small gift notebook for church thoughts; a slightly bigger ringed gift book for gratitude; and my notebook laptop for personal and family journals. I don’t write in all of them all the time, I just like options. And frankly, a girl can’t have too many fabulous notebooks.

If you haven’t been a journaling fan, give one of these ideas a try. You may find it to be a therapeutic, joyful and even addicting new habit.

Connie Sokol is an author, presenter, TV contributor and mother of seven. Contact her at


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