A busy mind before bedtime is one of the most common complaints when it comes to trouble falling asleep. Even if you don’t have trouble falling asleep, entering your bed without properly decompressing from your day can lead to more fragmented sleep, lowering your sleep quality and quantity.
So, what do you do? One of the most effective techniques for unwinding from your day is journaling!
Don’t be intimidated by the idea of writing, you’ll use your journal simply as an outlet for your mind. Pretend it’s a friend that you can dump your random thoughts and anxiety unto. You can even give it a name.
How does it work?
Journaling is a very effective and scientifically supported way to reduce stress. It can also be pretty fun and cathartic. It works because it allows your mind to bring closure to the day, express any inner stress and worry, and it is an exercise in mindfulness. Mindfulness simply refers to being present and in the moment. The more time we spend in the present, the better able we are to connect with the underlying stressors and emotions that can disrupt our sleep.
How do I journal?
In short, you should try a few different ways of journaling and stick with what works for you. The most important thing is to not put pressure on yourself. Journaling is meant purely as an outlet.
How to get started: Ideally, set aside 10 to 20 minutes during your nightly bedtime routine to journal. The purpose of journaling will be to quiet your mind.
5 WAYS TO APPROACH JOURNALING
1. TO-DO LISTS
To-do lists are one of the most effective journaling techniques for quieting a busy mind after a long day. You can try creating a to-do list for tomorrow with actions for how to complete them. If you can’t solve a problem, simply write “will revisit tomorrow”- this will allow your brain to close the curtain on the item for the night.
2. LOG IT
Write a log about your day. This can include mundane activities, memorable moments, things you’re thankful for, things that brought stress, and so on. Logging your day is a great way to get started if you feel stumped and you’ll also be creating a neat little log of a time in your life!
3. SHOW GRATITUDE
Another excellent technique is to list the things you are grateful for. They can be moments of the day or overall themes of your life. For example, you could be grateful for nice weather, that brownie you ate after supper, and your loving partner. Making notes of any positive experiences you had that day and things in your life that bring you happiness is an excellent way to end your day. Regularly practicing gratitude helps rewire your brain for more positive thinning which tends to have a side-effect of increasing your overall happiness.
4. FREE ASSOCIATION
A fun way to explore journaling is free association. This means setting a timer and writing absolutely anything that comes to your mind (it can get fun and weird). Once you get used to journaling in this style you’ll find it comes more natural and it ends up being extremely cathartic!
5. TELL STORIES
Are you storyteller? Making up stories can be an extremely fun way to use a journal. You never know, maybe you’ll become a famous author!
Is journaling for everyone?
Most people who don’t think journaling is for them are actually pleasantly surprised about the benefits that gain from regularly writing in a journal. Over time, it’s normal to find you feel more confident expressing yourself and you get better at organizing your own thoughts and feelings. These skills are incredibly valuable on those days you feel overwhelmed, drained, or irritated.
In order to find out if journaling is beneficial to you, try it out for a couple of weeks and see if it helps. There are many other alternatives that you can use to help you mentally decompress, however, journaling is one of the most effective tools with many benefits.
TIPS FOR SUCCESS
- Invest in a nice journal and a pen you enjoy using
- Don’t expect perfection. It’s just a place to dump thoughts and errors and messiness are all ok!
- Have fun! Use it as an outlet for ideas, thoughts, and even sketches.