Journaling for Self-Care: 4 Tips to Create a Life-Changing Routine | by Lynda Monk MSW, RSW, CPCC

Client journaling for self-care

What is self-care?

Self-care is as much a way of being as it is something we do. It includes all the ways you tend to your whole-person wellbeing, including your emotional, physical, psychological and spiritual health.

Self-care replenishes and renews you. It's the act of doing something for you, and only you, to help with overall health and wellness. Ultimately, self-care is what you define it as—there is no one-size-fits-all when it comes to how best to care for yourself!

The power of routine

Self-care is always important in our lives, but it's particularly significant during this ongoing pandemic. And one of the best ways to keep this priority in focus is to establish a self-care routine.

A self-care routine is something you do each day, typically around the same time each day, that is just for you. Everyone needs to unwind and relax at the end of the day (or the beginning). But many people get too wrapped up in their busy lives to take the time—or take any time at all—to care for themselves.

And one very simple and effective foundation for a self-care routine is journaling.

Journaling for self-care

You can use journaling as one of your key self-care activities to create a healthy routine each day that will improve your life, health and happiness.

Research shows there are many health benefits to writing expressively about both your thoughts and your feelings, as well as your experiences, memories, hopes and dreams. The benefits of expressive writing can include reduced stress, improved immune functioning and increased resilience: journaling is a powerful self-care practice.

Taking time to sit and write for yourself, or any other self-care activity you might choose, is not selfish. Instead, see it as improving yourself in ways that benefit not only you, but other people as well. To be the best version of yourself, you need to take care of yourself.

I think of my journaling as a daily practice that enriches my life and well-being in many ways.

Writing in a journal helps you feel more grounded, calm and peaceful. Why not spend at least a few minutes a day focused on yourself in a reflective and healthy way?

4 Tips to Create Your Journaling for Self-Care Routine

So how can you take the simple act of journaling and turn it into a meaningful self-care routine?

1. Choose the right time to journal

I believe any time is a good time to journal! But when it comes to creating habits and routines, it's helpful to choose a dedicated time of day.

Many people like to journal at the beginning or end of the day. The best time for you is an individual choice and depends on your schedule. When can you most easily take some time?

  • Can you wake up a bit earlier than normal to journal first thing? If so, this might be a good way to start your day off in a reflective, self-expressed and grounded way. You can then transition into getting ready for your day. You may have heard of Julia Cameron's "morning pages". She describes this technique in The Artist's Way, a book that was originally published in 1992 and is still a popular resource.
  • What about at the end of the day? It can be very nourishing to unplug from all devices and settle into some quiet journaling time for a little self-care in the evening. It's a replenishing and much higher-value activity than mindlessly scrolling through your Facebook feed or doing something else that may leave you depleted.

2. Use journaling as a catalyst

The reason journaling goes hand in hand with a self-care routine is that journaling is a catalyst.

Journaling can be the spark for having a routine just for you each day. Initially, you may not see much reason to take a few minutes alone. But once you're writing in your journal every day, you'll come to cherish that time.

You can take this time for yourself in whatever setting is most inspiring for you. Consider the setting you will journal in:

  • Most people prefer to write in their journal when they're completely alone, whether it's in the bedroom at night or early in the morning at the kitchen table. This becomes a very personal and private experience, so it can be good to not have outside distractions.
  • On the other hand, some people love to journal sitting in a library or at a coffee shop. In these places, the activity and background of daily life, people, sounds and a stimulating environment can wrap around you as you write. (This is something I look forward to doing again when we get past these COVID times!)
  • You might also find that you enjoy journaling outside in nature.

3. Mix it up

Once you settle on a routine, it's not necessarily set in stone. You can always switch it up by the day or week, depending on your schedule.

You might also add more things to your journaling for self-care routine, or take away elements that aren't working well for you.

For example, I like to create rituals around my journaling time, including lighting a candle, listening to relaxing music or a guided meditation, or sipping an herbal tea or a glass of wine as I write.

Make your journaling practice your own. That's part of the fun and creativity involved in this life-enriching self-care routine!

There are other ways to mix it up too. Your journaling for self-care can also include all forms of creative self-expression. For example, try:

  • Collaging
  • Drawing
  • Adding photos or images
  • Using different coloured pens
  • Adding quotes and affirmations
  • Anything else you can think of!

There is so much you can do in the pages of your journal to enhance the self-care benefits that you cultivate through this creative wellness practice.

4. Journal about your self-care

Not only is journaling a self-caring act, but you can also use journal writing exercises and prompts to actually explore your self-care as you write.

Here are some self-care journaling prompts you can try:

  • Right now in my life, my self-care is _____
  • When I think about my self-care, I notice _____
  • When I think about my self-care, I feel _____
  • If I were to tell someone why self-care is so important, I would say _____
  • When I was young, I learned the following lessons about self-care and taking time for myself _____ (without judgment, simply think back and write about what you remember about your early self-care lessons and role modelling)
  • Make a list of your favourite self-care activities. List making is a great journaling technique!
  • If you were to draw a picture of your self-care, what would it look like?
  • What is the most self-loving thing you can do for yourself today?
  • What do you need? How can you meet that need?
  • How do you live a self-caring life? Not just as something you do, but as a way of being?

Wrap-up

Journaling is a self-caring act because it is a practice of coming home to yourself.

Make yourself a priority through taking time to journal. And give yourself permission to pause, write, reflect and replenish from within as you journal.

Journaling for self-care is meaningful for both coaches and clients alike.

Tip: Bring self-care journaling into your sessions with clients!

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Contributing Author:

Lynda Monk, MSW, RSW, CPCC is the Director of the International Association for Journal Writing. Lynda regularly writes, speaks, and teaches about the transformational and healing power of writing. She is the co-author of Writing Alone Together: Journalling in a Circle of Women for Creativity, Compassion and Connection (2014), and co-editor of Transformational Journaling for Coaches, Therapists, and Clients: A Complete Guide to the Benefits of Personal Writing (2021). You can find her FREE gift for coaches here: Gratitude Journaling for Coaches & Clients Workbook.

Learn more about Lynda here >>

Image of Client Journaling for Self-Care by mimagephotography via Shutterstock

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