Start Journalling: The Five Minute Journal

 In Resources, Toronto Therapist

Journalling can be helpful with managing anxiety and stress, cultivating mindfulness and more.

One of the practices I recommend to help with managing stress and anxiety, and to also develop mindfulness, is journalling.

Journalling can take many forms and there are some folks who might immediately think that what’s being suggested is to keep a diary.

When I suggest journalling, it’s not necessarily for the purpose of taking meticulous notes about what’s happened in your day.

It is more about developing a habit of learning how to pay attention to your thoughts and feelings, and being able to express them in words and to know that not every thought and feeling you have requires an action or reaction.

But I’ve also noticed that while the idea of starting to journal is simple enough, the process of finding a (or the ‘just right’) note book, setting aside time every day, and not knowing what to write… can either be overwhelming, become discouraging or just plain intimidating to be looking at that blank page.

For some, journalling can be a practice that is challenging to maintain. While for others, it can be just as challenging to start.

As it can be true of many things, instructions or a step-by-step structure can make journalling more accessible.

This, I believe, is the simple effectiveness of the Five-Minute Journal. (Not an affiliate link.)

I am constantly on the look-out for tools and resources that can be helpful for my clients.

When I learned about the Five Minute Journal, I could see the potential of how it can assist in getting the journalling practice started, and more importantly, to maintain it.

“Recognizing the gap between theory and practice, we take leading psychology research and real-world tested self-improvement advice and distill it into beautifully designed tools to help us take action and make lasting positive change.”
– Intelligent Change

This structured journal makes creating an everyday journalling practice not only easier to get started, but additionally creates a practice of mindfulness that will assist you to be more thoughtful during your day.

What Is the Five-Minute Journal?

The Five Minute Journal was developed by UJ Ramdas and Alex Ikonn of Intelligent Change. According to Ikonn’s website, their Journal has sold over 400,000 copies worldwide.

Being in Toronto myself, I love that Intelligent Change is based out of Toronto!

Because it is my personal belief that intention is important, I also appreciate that their goal in creating their company and the Five Minute Journal is to “positively change your life.”  (It appears it’s also their company motto.)

Like many, the creators understood the benefits of journalling and mindfulness, but also saw the obstacles of starting and maintaining these practices for themselves.

In response to their own needs, they created an aesthetically pleasing journal that is action-oriented. The design of the journal has also made it a clear and simple process to record day-to-day mindfulness notes.

According to their website, this journal is:

“Your secret weapon to focus on the good in your life, become more mindful, and live with intention.”

Not only does the journal include half a year’s worth of daily 5 minute journalling pages, it also includes a rather robust introductory area describing the scientific research, basic principles and the logic behind how and why the journal was designed.

It recognizes that establishing a routine can be an obstacle to developing consistent habits and in response, the journal asks you to commit to the practice of journalling daily for the first five days.

The process includes a written commitment to reward yourself if you complete the daily five minute journalling exercises, and also if you do not complete the five days, a promise to do something that you would rather not do (ie, donate to a cause you do not believe in).

I believe the value of utilizing something like the Five Minute Journal is that its use of the daily template will help to establish mindfulness habits and also train its users to start becoming more self-reflective, especially if the process can be established and maintained.

Whether you may decide to purchase the Five Minute Journal or not (it’s just packaged in a more convenient, ‘done-for-you’ format), you can also choose to establish these habits in a regular notebook of your choice.

The daily routine revolves around taking a short amount of time each day to take notes of the following:

a) Self-Reflection

Each daily journal page is divided up in two sections: Morning Reflections (to be completed first thing) and Evening Reflections (to be completed at the end of your day).

The objective is to take a few minutes in the morning to set intentions and affirmations for your day, and to return at the end of the day to reflect on what transpired during the day and to also check-in to see whether there was coherence to the intentions which were set earlier.

With daily repetition, research in neuroscience has shown that engaging in this kind of practice will establish a specific way of thinking, which will be reflective in how you feel, decisions you make, etc.

b) Setting Personal Goals

While many of us pride ourselves on the ability to multi-task, this particular tendency can set unrealistic expectations to achieve beyond what may be considered reasonable… or, I believe, more commonly, many things kind of accomplished perhaps unsatisfactorily or lacking some level of quality.

What I mean is that we can have our attention divided in so many areas and directions that feeling like we have been focused and well-accomplished can feel elusive.

With this in mind, the daily practices as outlined in the Five Minute Journal aims to keep things simple.

It asks the user to make note of three things to focus on accomplishing for the day.

Rather than have ten plus things on your daily To Do list to have to complete, the idea is to focus on three things and to get these three things done with intention.

It is rooted in Positive Psychology: Set yourself up for wins and these daily wins can have an ongoing positive impact on your day to day, which can add up to a more positive experience of life on a regular basis.

c) Daily Affirmation

While the idea of setting an affirmation may seem ‘woo-woo’, there have been growing scientifically backed research and studies showing that positive affirmations “can bolster people’s feelings of self-worth and make them respond more constructively to threats.”

Read more about it here as reported by The Cut (subsidiary of the New York Magazine Group): Why Self Affirmation Works

The are many advantages of spending a few minutes every day focusing on positive aspects of yourself, establishing purpose, and reviewing your actions.

For example:

  • Establishing a consistent record of your ideas and experiences.
  • Provides you with the opportunity for daily self reflection.
  • By daily journalling, you can identify habits and patterns which you may not be aware of and as a result may wish to change or modify.
  • Engage in a gratitude practice.
  • Ability to witness changes, overcoming of challenging, accomplishments and self-growth over time.

Establishing a new routine can be hard. It certainly can be made that much harder by busy and demanding days which can derail good intentions to establish a new habit.

Yes, while it’s absolutely true that with the right and helpful knowledge, we can DIY most things. However, if you have struggled to get something like a journalling practice underway, why not take advantage of a tool if it can make things a little easier?

Consistency, self-reflection, intentionality, and review can have an impact on mood and focus, which in turn will likely be beneficial in your daily habits and personal relationships, as well.

Whether starting a journalling practice of your own or by using the Five Minute Journal, I would recommend it, especially if you have been feeling unfocused, overwhelmed or have a tendency toward negative self-talk.

If you are in Canada, the Five Minute Journal I have noticed that they are available on Amazon and Indigo.  Elsewhere, and also in Canada, it is also possible to purchase directly from Intelligent Design.

** This post is not sponsored, nor do I have any financial affiliations with any of the retailers listed above. **

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