Keep Calm and Carry a Mindfulness Journal

A mindfulness gratitude journal sits open on a table next to a fancy coffee in a tall glass.

If you’re looking for a simple and relaxing way to self-care, you might want to give a mindfulness journal a try. 

It’s always a good idea to check in with yourself whenever you’re feeling stressed about work or life, or if you’re bored and find yourself scrolling the hours away. 

I know it can be so soothing to distract yourself with pretty photos of cupcakes, but sometimes too much external stimuli can be just as overwhelming as work or other responsibilities. Instead of seeking more input to distract yourself from stress, try to pause and take stock of what’s going on internally. 

So what does being mindful mean exactly? 

Mindfulness is simply the act of paying attention and being more present. Luckily, you don’t have to join a yoga retreat or do a week-long meditation to be more attentive. Being mindful can be as small as noticing your breath, writing down what you ate for lunch in your journal, or taking a walk in the woods and noticing your surroundings. 

There are lots of different ways to cultivate mindfulness. We all know that meditation is a popular way of being more mindful. Another powerful tool is mindfulness journaling. 

Similar to meditating or taking a long walk, mindfulness journaling is another way to step away from the stresses of daily life and observe what’s going on in your mind and around you. 

Whether you’ve always wanted to start a regular journal practice or you’re a lifelong writer looking to be more reflective, you’ll benefit from mindfulness journaling. Here are some ways that you can use a mindfulness journal and harness its benefits.

Reflect and check in with yourself

If you’re the type of person who always feels like time is flying by and that the days just blend into weeks, then you’ll want to give yourself a daily check-in. 

This mindfulness exercise is a simple and easy way to “check-in” with yourself and see how you’re feeling and see what’s going on with your life. You can use the new Ink+Volt Reflection Pad to give you a structured way of taking inventory of your life.

The check-in pad covers 18 unique areas of your life, including happiness, creativity, communication, rest, and time management.

On the pad, you give each area a rating from 1-5. By reflecting on each of these areas and giving them a score, you might be surprised by how you are really feeling about things you otherwise wouldn’t have given much thought.

As someone who loves a good list, I really appreciate the structured format of the reflection pad and how it asks you to examine all the important areas in our lives, one by one. It’s such a clear and organized way of looking at the big picture, as well as inspecting the nuts and bolts that help run our lives. 

After all, we take stock of what’s in our pantry before we go grocery shopping; why shouldn’t we also take stock of our internal lives and see what we need to replenish? 

Wherever you notice you are feeling low, make a plan to replenish it this week. And where you are scoring high, you can give yourself a pat on the back! Take a moment to notice your strengths and how well you do them.

Reflect on the past

Another exercise you can do with your mindfulness journal is to reflect on the past. While reflecting on old memories may seem counter to mindfulness and “being in the moment,” this type of journaling can be a powerful and effective way to learn important lessons from past experiences, which in turn, can enrich your present life. Benefits can include: pain reduction, better sleep, and even strengthened immune systems.

Also, mindfulness doesn’t always have to be so “present-focused”. Another way to look at being mindful is to be more thoughtful about our lives as a whole.

Find a quiet moment in your day and bring out your favorite notebook. You can go with a pretty, travel-friendly cover that makes you smile or a hardcover notebook if you’d like something sturdy that you can save as a keepsake.

Take about 20 minutes and write about a past memory. If this is your first time doing this type of exercise, try picking a memory that isn’t too intense or challenging, but just a small moment or event that still occupies your mind. Maybe you’re still cringing from a presentation or job interview that didn’t go well, or a childhood birthday party that springs to mind when you think of the past.

You can try describing the memory or event in detail and then see if any lessons or insights arise. If that event didn't have a particularly happy ending, maybe there’s some sort of lesson you gleaned. Maybe you can write about how you would go about things differently next time, or the positive feelings that first jump out at you when you think of this memory.

By focusing on the positive outcomes and lessons learned, you may find yourself feeling less weighed down by this memory. If you recently experienced a personal or professional challenge like a breakup or a bad job interview, try regularly journaling these experiences and you might experience some benefits. 

This article in NYMag says:

“In one recent study, for example, people who wrote about a breakup were better able to cope with the heartache; in another, those who wrote down their worries were rewarded with reduced anxiety.”

Express gratitude 

We all know the benefits of a gratitude practice, but it’s so easy to be forgetful about it. You can use the Ink+Volt Gratitude Journal, which comes with blank pages to record things that bring you joy and gratitude. Plus, it comes with inspiring quotes and little challenges to help you cultivate more gratitude. 

You can also do a gratitude practice in conjunction with your Ink+Volt Planner. Use the weekly layout or the “reflect and celebrate box” to jot down a few things that you were grateful for that day or week. Or select one day in your planner and commit to writing down what you’re grateful for.  

You can even jazz up the weekly layout with some pretty washi tape, making you more likely to remember to write down your list. 

Problem solving

Much like writing about past memories, writing about the problems that occupy your thoughts can be very powerful and soothing.

Plus, if Deepak Chopra says that journaling can help you problem solve, you know you have to give it a try! He writes:

“When you encounter a difficult problem, removing the situation from your mind and putting it down on paper encourages you to look at things from different angles and brainstorm several solutions in a more organized manner. Write about a current challenge you’re struggling with and possible solutions.”

So the next time you’re struggling with a project at work or need to come up with ideas for a school paper, use your notebook to journal everything that’s coming to mind. 

What are you worried about? What do you need to help you succeed? What are all the possible outcomes that could happen? 

You don’t even have to write this in a structured way. Simply by writing freely without censoring or filtering yourself, you are taking the time to observe your thoughts, which just might help you find a way to solve your problem. 

For even more journaling ideas, we have gratitude journaling ideas here and journaling ideas for beginners here.
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