Updated: Feb 19, 2022
Start a journaling practice that helps and heals
Guest writer: Mari McCarthy
Journaling is a powerful self-care tool that everyone can benefit from — whether you are an introvert, an extrovert, or an ambivert. But if you are an introvert, journaling just happens to tap into some of your natural tendencies and your greatest strengths.
I so connect with our guest writer this week, Mari McCarthy. Journaling has been a consistent part of my life for decades. It has provided a safe place to escape, get thoughts out of my head, figure out my greatest fears, and celebrate successes. Mari and her Journaling Power program, blogs, and books are the perfect complement to every introvert's journey. I hope you will enjoy her inspirational post here and please check out her website and program details below.
Does this sound like you?
You have a rich inner world of thoughts, ideas, and emotions
You are reflective, self-aware, curious, and empathetic – often feeling things deeply
You need quiet to concentrate and get overwhelmed or distracted by external stimuli
You renew your energy by spending time alone
You are observant and a good listener
You prefer spending time one-on-one or in small groups, rather than larger crowds
You can get lost in your mind, for better (creative thinking, problem-solving) or for worse (overthinking, rumination)
You often process your thoughts and feelings better through writing vs. speaking
If any of these statements ring true for you, then journaling is a great fit for your introspective nature and active mind. If you don’t already keep a journal, now is the ideal time to start. Journaling is associated with a long list of positive mental and physical health outcomes, and a regular writing practice can help you reduce stress, recharge your batteries, boost creativity, set goals, and process complex emotions. All you need is a notebook, a pen, and a short block of time to get started.
Here are a few of the many benefits introverts experience from regular journaling:
Exploring your interior world
If you’ve ever been called a daydreamer or scolded for having your head in the clouds, you need a place where you can let your imagination run wild. Follow your curiosity and see where it takes you.
Make lists of the hypotheses you want to investigate, the novels you want to write, or the subjects you want to study. Sketch pictures of half-formed ideas or half-remembered dreams. Give yourself permission to write about anything and everything that comes to mind, without judgment or pressure to make sense of it.
Processing your emotions
Think of your journal as a pressure relief valve for what you are going through on any given day. Vent about the stresses you’re coping with related to work, relationships, parenting, money, or the pandemic. Celebrate small moments of joy, pride, love, and connection. Work through experiences you aren’t quite sure how to feel about yet.
Just put all of your jumbled, jangly thoughts and emotions down on the page and out of your head. If you want to find out more about them, ask open-ended questions in your journal, like: What’s this about? Where is this coming from? Why do I feel this way?
If you have a tendency to overthink, you may get stuck in hurtful patterns of self-criticism, focusing on your perceived shortcomings and beating yourself up for past decisions. Give your inner coach — not your inner critic — a voice in your journal. Talk to yourself the way you would talk to a friend. Highlight your strengths and successes, and be compassionate about your missteps. Acknowledge the areas where you want to learn and grow with kindness and patience because no one is perfect.
Appreciating the little things
Practicing gratitude is strongly linked with positive outcomes, including improving happiness and health and building resilience and strong relationships. Create space in your journal to count your blessings and reflect on the best parts of your life. Get in the habit of writing down a few good things that happen to you each day and expressing how they make you feel. Keep the gratitude going outside of your journal as well. Write a thank-you note to someone you appreciate, or share the best parts of your day at the dinner table with your family.
Tips for Getting Started
1. Buy a nice notebook.
Your journal doesn’t have to be expensive — but do buy a notebook that you look forward to writing in. Pay attention to the texture of the paper and the weight of the cover, and select something that feels worthy of your thoughts.
2. Go for consistency.
Aim to write for just a few minutes every day. Make your goal so easy that you can reach it even on your busiest days, and try pairing it with a habit you’ve already established. For example, write one sentence each morning after you walk the dog, or make a list of three things you’re grateful for just after you brush your teeth at night.
3. When in doubt, free-write.
If you don’t know what to write about, set a timer and complete a few minutes of stream-of-consciousness writing. Don’t worry about spelling, grammar, or style. Just focus on keeping your pen moving until the timer goes off.
There are no rules when it comes to journaling. You get to decide what you want your journaling practice to look like. Simply show up and write, and make journaling part of your everyday self-care routine.