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Journalling - An Expression of Self.

Journaling is often seen as a tool in therapy - a way of releasing thoughts and capturing key moments. For some getting it down on paper helps to form a structure to the story they wish to tell or give a solid meaning to an event -’ I wrote it down so it was real’. Future journaling can be a very positive experience - focusing on what dreams and visions you have and how live is going to be.

Journaling can also be daunting - the blank piece of paper in the traditional format can be difficult to face. BUT .. there are many ways to express yourself without having to create a narrative form. Three of these simple formats are explored below.

1. Free Writing

Don’t think about the sentences or worry about the grammar - start with your eyes closed even, and then just write whatever comes into your mind. Even if it is not related to the subject you are working through let the words simply flow from the pen onto the paper. Write as fast or as slow as comes naturally. Use all of the page - write small , write large. Allow emotions to flow with you and don’t try to control the thoughts. Keep writing until you pause and then put the pen down. Before you decide to read anything back take a moment to reflect on the experience.

- How do you feel now?

- What emotions did you go through during the process?

- Do you even need to read what you wrote?

For some the act of free writing is a form of release that does not need further review. The paper can be kept or can be destroyed.

2. Mind Maps

Start by writing your main topic heading in the middle of the page and surround it with linked subjects or words connected by branches - build out the branches of your mind map as the thoughts come to you . You can do this creatively on paper with different colours, or you can use on line tools such as Free Mind. A mind map can help you to put your thoughts in order and start to show you visually which areas of your life you want to spend more time thinking about. As you build out a section you may find more questions or comments come to you and you start to explore deeper than simply when thinking through the topics in your head.

3. Vision Boards

For some words are not the key but creating a vision board using pictures from magazines./ drawn or from pictures on line can enable a person to really express their feelings or dreams. You might use it to build out how your emotions are working in the now or you might focus on what the future looks to you. It might be cathartic to create one about a past experience and how that felt in your mind. Choose images and colours that help represent your thoughts and don’t limit yourself to literal pictures but perhaps choose scenes from nature or blocks of colour that represent something to you. A future focused vision board can help you to give reality to those dreams and keep you focused on working towards it - you are literally building your future through the vision board.

For me it’s all about the stationary - I use a form of journaling to capture poems or quotes which I find comforting or hit a mark with me. I like to have a lovely book in which to capture them and enjoy the process of building out something which I can reflect back on.

Whichever format you find most effective -journaling is all about gaining something from the experience. It should create a feeling of purpose and although, on occasion, your journal might bring up emotions of sadness or thoughts from the past, it can enable you to work through them and overall give a feeling of release.- so grab some paper and pens, let your mind wander and enjoy the experience this type of inner discussion can give you.