I live for routines. I know it sounds boring, but the idea of having a formula for either getting ready for the day or winding down at night never fails to put me at ease. Several months ago, I shared my morning routine with you, and at the end of that post hinted at an evening routine recap to come. Now, this is me promising you I did not forget, and a full low-down on my night-time ritual is coming soon. For a little sneak peak, today I’m showing you the ins and outs of one of the most essential parts of my bedtime practice: journaling.
Like most people, my pathway to regular journaling has been anything but linear: I got into a steady groove this time last year, and was writing pretty consistently until about mid-October. Then, everything dropped off. I didn’t pick up the practice again until the New Year, possible around late January or February. Since then, I’ve become an even bigger believer in the healing, meditative powers of journaling, and have even expanded my routine to include a couple unique components. What am I talking about, exactly? Scroll further to find out!
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Step 1 // Joy Jar
If you’re a regular visitor to this site, you’re well-acquainted with my Joy Jar, aka the most recent addition to my journaling ritual. I got the idea to start a jar from Let It Out: A Journey Through Journaling, a book full of journaling prompts from the amazing Katie Dalebout of Let It Out Radio. It might sound a little intimidating (“I’d rather just sip lemonade out of my Mason jar…”), but the ritual itself is so simple and beautiful: Every night, grab something to write on and jot down all the joyful moments from the past day. This doesn’t have to be big stuff- last night, one of my “moments” was when the delivery guy showed up with my sushi! Just think about the moments you felt happy over over the course of the day, and record them. Afterwards, fold up the paper and stuff it in your jar. Over time, you’ll collect more and more, and when your jar is full you can go back and relive all those happy times.
Step 2 // Gratitude Notebook
I started my gratitude notebook this past spring, during week when I was feeling extremely down and just wanted to take a few minutes to remind myself of all the great things in my life. The notebook functions similarly to a joy jar, but instead of writing down the happy moments from my day, I record all the people, things, places, food (always), and whatever made me feel grateful that day. You’d be surprised how easy it is to come up with a huge list of gratitudes, and reminding yourself of these things is an amazing way to feel positive about the day ahead. On nights when I’m too tired to complete my full routine, I always make sure to jot down some gratitudes and joy jar moments to get the good energy flowing. 🙂
Step 3 // The Journal-y Journal
And now the last and most time-honed step of my ritual: the journal-y journal. This is where I dump all of my thoughts, recollections, and musings about the day, my life, the future…it’s all in there. Some nights I’ll go deep and work out some “kinks” that have been bugging my mentally and emotionally, and other nights I literally just recap my day. No matter what, though, I find it really satisfying to write before turning the lights out. Maybe it’s the writer in me, maybe I’m just even more Type A achievement-driven than I thought I was…whatever the case, I cherish the minutes I spend curled up amongst my (many) pillows, having a little talk with myself.
So there you have it: the nuts and bolts of my nightly journal routine. As I mentioned above, there are evenings when my energy is just too low for me to go through the whole thing, and I don’t judge myself when that happens. Over the course of developing my practice, I’ve learned not to measure my journaling based on frequency, length, or anything quantitative. What matters is how you feel after you close that book, so should you endeavor into journaling yourself, I recommend using your heart, not your head, as the compass.
Feel free to ask any questions regarding my experience with journaling, my tips for starting a routine, resources, anything. The comments are always open, but so is my inbox via firstname.lastname@example.org. I’d to hear from you!