Journaling to the Rescue, with Lucia Capacchione, PhD

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From the moment our interview with today’s guest began, it was clear this would be the first conversation of many. Lucia Capacchione, PhD, ATR, REAT is an extraordinary thinker, art therapist and pioneer in the fields of expressive arts therapy and journal therapy. Her knowledge of these topics is wide and deep.

Lucia is the bestselling author of 23 books on journaling using drawing and writing. She originated The Creative Journal method and bilateral journaling: drawing and dialoguing with both hands. Her books include The Creative Journal, The Power of Your Other Hand, and Recovery of Your Inner Child. She has created Creative Journal programs for schools (K – 12), cancer support groups, and trainings for educators and mental health professionals. Lucia has a private practice and is director of Creative Journal Expressive Arts Certification Training for Professionals. 

We sat down to discuss how journaling with our non-dominant hand can help address anxiety, stress, relationship dynamics, and physical pain.

To learn more about Lucia’s groundbreaking work, listen to our interview, or read below to see highlights from our talk.


Journaling to the Rescue, with Lucia Capacchione, PhD


From first-hand experience, Lucia knows the power of journaling, and she credits the practice with saving her life. At age 35, Lucia became so ill she was bedridden. The medications prescribed did not help, and her condition remained a medical mystery for many years. In desperation, she turned to the journal she’d just begun keeping.  It was there that she could unload the anxiety and confusion she was feeling.  

Lucia began to write her feelings out and grew fascinated as she realized the ways journaling contributed to her growth and understanding.

In time, the source of Lucia’s ill health was discovered. She recovered and went on to become an art therapist. When she began this work, she immediately started assigning clients journaling prompts as a means to tap into their subconscious. Her book The Creative Journal features the prompts she used along with art from her students and clients.

Journaling Improves Health

Having survived her own health crisis, Lucia became interested in James Pennabaker’s ground breaking research that showed journaling’s impact on the immune system.

Dr. Pennebaker asked one group of people to journal about trivial events while a second group was asked to journal about personal crisis and trauma. Blood tests were administered before and after the writing sessions. Those who wrote about a crisis were found to have heightened immunity whereas no changes were detected in the blood of those who had jotted down trivial events of the day.

Since this finding, there have been a multitude of studies that show the impact of journaling on physical health, including one that showed patients who journal before surgery heal more quickly. Lucia explains that when our emotions are not released they become somatized. Journaling helps us connect with and extract strong emotions so that they do not make us ill.

Writing with Your Non-dominant Hand

Lucia explains that the value of journaling with the non-dominant hand is it provides access to the right side of the brain which specializes in emotional expression and intuition. She contrasts this with the left hemisphere which is the verbal center of our brain.

The limbic system is the part of our brain that controls our physical and emotional responses to stimuli.  Lucia describes this region as a gating mechanism and explains that using the non-dominant hand, unrooted in verbal expression, helps us access this system and get to the heart of the issues we need to explore.

When we write with our non-dominant hand, we use both side of the brain. Lucia explains how we pull words and language from the left brain and run it through the corpus collepsum which is the part of the brain that establishes communication between the two hemispheres of the brain. In effect, we are synthesizing language and our deepest thoughts and emotions.

Manage Stress

In her book, Drawing Your Stress Away, Lucia provides journaling and drawing prompts to help us manage stress. She shares an example.

  • Scribble your heart out. Start scribbling on scrap paper. Begin with your non-dominant hand. Use crayons and fat markers. The stress you carry will begin to pour out. Do this for as long as you like. Note that it’s the movement on the paper that releases stresses.
  • Dance on paper. When you feel finished with the first step, put on some calming music. Use both hands and imagine they are performing a duet. Resume scribbling, but this time allow the music to flow through you and inform the movement and markings you make on the paper. Avoid the temptation to draw pictures. Leave only tracks that represent the movement of the music through your body and onto the paper. Feel the stress leaving.

Lucia notes that this can be a meaningful exercise to practice with children. It’s applicable to people and at any age.  

Manage Anxiety and Depression

Lucia’s work proves that strong emotions and feelings can be released by drawing them out.  To combat anxiety and depression she suggests drawing a picture of the issues you wrestle with. Do this with your non-dominant hand.

For example, a person who is feeling boxed in, Lucia suggests, would draw an image of themselves in a box. Next, they engage in a dialogue with the image.  It would look something like this:

Dominant hand writes: What are you?
Non-dominant hand answers:  I’m you stuck in a box. 

Dominant hand writes: How do you feel?
Non-dominant hand answers: I feel shut down. I feel locked up.

Dominant hand writes: What’s making you to feel this way?
Non-dominant hand answers:  You are putting me in all of these different boxes and schedules. I’m tired.

Dominant hand writes: How can I help you?
Non-dominant hand answers: I want to stop doing things that don’t fulfill me. I want to start exercising and painting.  

Manage Your Health

Lucia recommend similar methods when addressing physical health. She shows how we can talk to individual body parts to manage symptoms.  

  • Lie down. Notice the areas of your body where you experience discomfort.
  •  Draw a picture of your body, and color the areas where you eperience pain.  
  • If there is pain in your shoulder talk with it:
    What are you?
    What’s causing this?
    What can be done about it?

Manage Relationships

In her book The Power of Your Other Hand, Lucia explains the physiology of writing and growing with your non-dominant hand and shows how this can impact our relationships in significant ways.

  • Sit down and imagine you are having a conversation with someone significant in your life.
  • With your dominant hand, express your feelings: “I’m angry that you walked away in the middle of our conversation last week.”
  • Put the pen in your non-dominant hand and write what the other person would say. “I left because I was scared. I thought you were going to start blaming me.”

In her work, Lucia has observed that all kind of insights come up using this method to help us better understand another person’s perspective. 

The Future of Journaling

If journaling is a tool you rely on, you are not alone!  With happiness, Lucia predicts the future for journaling is bright. “I do book signings, and when I am in bookstores they always put me in front of a wall of blank books. I always tell my audience that when I started speaking about journaling many years ago, there weren’t any blank books in the bookstores. You had to go to an art store to get something to journal in. Now there are all these beautiful options.”

It’s Lucia’s dream to take journaling to public schools. The research shows that journaling helps students manage disruptive behaviors, test-taking anxiety, and positively impacts the social atmosphere in classrooms.

Your Action Plan

If you found this conversation helpful, you might also enjoy our conversation with Deborah Ross in which we discuss journaling’s effects on the brain.

The Story You Need to Tell, with Sandra Marinella

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Through her pioneering work at the Mayo clinic and her own experience facing cancer, Sandra Marinella is a witness to the ways writing transforms lives. Sandra is the author of the book The Story You Need to Tell; Writing to Heal from Trauma, Illness, or Loss. It’s a great privilege to welcome her to Journaling.com.

To learn more about Sandra’s work, listen to our conversation, or read below to see highlights from our talk.


The Story You Need to Tell


The year Sandra turned nine, her family moved overseas. Sensitive to the challenge this transition raised, her father presented Sandra with two life-changing gifts—a copy of Louisa May Alcott’s story, Little Women, and a journal. When she’d finished Alcott’s book, Sandra followed in the footsteps of the story’s protagonists, Jo March, and started keeping a journal of her own.  She’s been writing ever since.

The Red Journal

 “We go to the page to find out who we are and to decide who we will become,” observes Sandra. When she received a cancer diagnosis, that’s just what she did. Sandra purchased a bright red journal and filled its pages with cathartic writing, poems, and lists.

Over time, journaling helped Sandra make sense of her circumstances. Expressive writing helped her manage cancer because it kept Sandra out of “panic mode” by providing:

  • Catharsis. When we suffer a traumatic event, Sandra explains, it’s critical the tension is released. Journaling provides this opportunity.
  • Understanding. The act of writing shifts our thinking and gives our brain the opportunity to recalibrate. New, deeper understanding ensures we aren’t controlled by fear and anxiety. Instead we are guided in positive new directions and we become centered.

The Power of Narrative Writing

Sandra’s work shows that story sharing has immense health benefits and can be done a variety of ways that include journaling, shares on social media, blogging, or talking with a therapist or a friend. What’s most important, Sandra’s determined, is that the story be released.

Over 1000 studies have been conducted that show healing is assisted by expressive writing. Sandra’s work at the Mayo Clinic suggests that with as little as two minutes of writing a day for two consecutive days, journalers can yield substantive results.

Sandra encourages us to write beyond our challenges and trauma by journaling about them within the context of our whole lives. This act impacts how we view our story and guides us forward in positive ways.

Narrative Medicine

Neuroscientists have proven that the stories we tell about ourselves define who we become. Sandra’s book reminds us that everyone carries their story inside, and that although these stories run the range from joyful to traumatic, we can determine which narrative will define us.

Narrative medicine is based on principal that we are the stories we choose to tell about ourselves. Sandra explains how every time we prepare a to-do list, we are making a plan for how we want our day to unfold. We are writing our story.

The narrative that we develop tells us who we are and this message guides our life, but sometimes the narrative breaks down. Divorce, illness, and other forms of loss can sneak into our story. Narrative medicine helps us understand the bumps along the way in order to reframe our narrative in the best possible terms and to make our story into the one we want to live with.

How to Practice Narrative Medicine

If you are grappling with a traumatic event you aren’t yet ready to write about, that’s okay. The mind needs time to hold that story, Sandra acknowledges, and to become familiar with it before you can shift details from the emotional right brain over to the analytical left side of your brain.

For when the time feels write to release your story, Sandra offers the following ideas:

  • Use writing prompts. Guided prompts help get your pen moving and steer you gently toward the story you need to tell.
  • Practice joy and gratitude writing. Sandra notes that these forms of expression help release melatonin in our brains which in turn helps us remember, even in the midst of  challenging time, of all there is to be thankful for.
  • Challenge writing. Sandra’s work is largely influenced by expressive writing pioneer Dr. James Pennebaker. Building on his work, she’s coined the term “challenge writing” to describe writing that explores and leads to the management of challenges.

Final Thoughts

It’s Sandra’s hope that more medical teams and individuals facing health challenges can integrate narrative medicine into their toolbox as a means for healing. The power of our stories can make us better.  

Your Action Plan

If you found this conversation helpful, you might also enjoy our interview with Christina Baldwin. Breathing in Full Sentences: Journal Writing as a Spiritual Practice.

Enlightenment and Adventure on the Camino de Santiago

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Just like journaling, mindful travel stirs the heart and lets subconscious thoughts rise to the surface. Navigating an unfamiliar environment strengthens resolve, inspires creativity, and provides fresh perspective on a range of issues. For these reasons, it didn’t surprise us to learn that many of Journaling.com’s members are also avid travelers!

We were delighted to discover that some of you have walked the much beloved Camino de Santiago. That got us thinking what fun it would be to feature a collection of members’ stories that reflect this pilgrimage through the eyes of fellow journalers.

If travel is not on your horizon today, we still think you’ll find these stories uplifting. The listeners who contributed to this series span a range of ages, physical abilities, and economic backgrounds. Give their stories a listen, let them transport you to a very special place, and be inspired!


Revelations along the Camino de Santiago, with Petra Aslund


Secrets of the Camino with Sara Sayles


Walking the Camino with Nicole Walsh and Teri Tucker


Personal Reflections Walking the Camino with Amina Lynch


Planning to Walk the Camino, with Dan Dudzik

Our travelers’ anecdotes, survival tips, and resource suggestions follow. Perhaps their reflections are seeds with which you’ll sow your own camino one day!

A World-famous Pilgrimage

The Camino de Santiago is a world-famous pilgrimage comprised of several different routes, the most common of which start in France and stretch across northern Spain. All of the paths lead to the shrine of James the Apostle at the Santiago de Compostela Cathedral in Spain.

During the Medieval period, this walk was an important Christian pilgrimage. Today the Camino receives over 200,000 annual visitors from all walks of life.

As we heard each of our guests’ stories unfold, we were struck by how unique each traveler’s camino turned out to be.

Meet the Pilgrims

Petra Aslund. As she turned 40, Petra faced several significant life transitions, and it seemed a fitting time to embark on a pilgrimage. In the middle of June, for two weeks, Petra walked 14 miles a day. An experienced solo traveler, she decided to set out on this adventure alone. In retrospect, Petra believes this was the right decision, and she describes being on her own as a vital element of her experience. In our conversation, Petra describes the close connections she cultivated with fellow travelers as well as the meaningful lessons she learned in solitude.

Sara Sayles. On her 60th birthday, with an eye on her bucket list, Sara announced her intention to hike the Camino. With long-time friends from college, Sara spent three years plotting and planning to make her birthday wish come true. As she and her friends got deeper into the planning process, it became evident that their visions of the journey were not identical. While Sara dreamed of the ultimate backpacking experience, others envisioned a high-end Camino. Negotiating a variety of needs, wants, and wishes proved a meaningful exercise, and ultimately they crafted a plan that suited everyone. The friends shared a meaningful journey and struck a balance between solitude and introspection and connection and comradery on their long walk together.

Sara Sayles

Teri Tucker and Nicole Walsh. Friends and coworkers from Arizona, Teri and Nicole started their walk in June. With 21 days to spare, the two walked 15 miles per day for a total of 300 miles! The weather on the Camino is unpredictable, and pilgrims prepare for a range of conditions. Teri and Nicole report starting their journey with a heatwave and ending in the mountains where the air was cold. When they look back and consider the ground that they covered and the knowledge they unearthed, they feel understandable awe.

Teri Tucker & Nicole Walsh

Amina Lynch. For 20 years, Amina spoke of her desire to hike the Camino de Santiago. To celebrate her 42nd birthday, Amina’s husband gifted her with a three-day trek through the Pyrenees portion of the pilgrimage, arguably the most grueling part of the walk.

Amina Lynch

Dan Dudzik. Along with his church pastor and members of their congregation, Dan embarked on his pilgrimage in October and walked 165 miles in 12 days. By the end of this experience, the bond between Dan and his fellow walkers was something he still treasures today. The group even talks about reuniting for a local weekend-long hike to reflect back on the time they shared hiking the Camino.

Dan Dudzik

Financing the Adventure

For some of our guests, planning how to prioritize and finance their camino was a highly significant part of their process.

When Sara began to prepare for her walk, she’d just filed for bankruptcy. Her finances were challenging, but she never let this deter her. Sara put a financial plan together and for two years she saved between $50 and $100 a month in a fund established solely for her journey. In the end, she was able to pay for the trip in cash, a fact she points to with deep satisfaction.

Teri and Nicole wanted to be intentional about the money they spent on their walk. When they were ready to buy airline tickets, they kept their eyes on cheap airfare alerts on the internet, and when the price was right, they leaped and made their purchase. To save more money, they stayed in city-run hostels set up for pilgrims and carried their own backpacks. With proper planning, they were able to stick within their intended budget.

Training for the Walk

Methods of training for the Camino are as varied as the pilgrims who use them. Our guests had a variety of approaches and helpful suggestions.

  • Practice walking with a full pack. Petra advises that those who plan to carry their own packs on the trail should take a few long walks with weight on their backs beforehand in order to get a feel for that experience.  
  • Break in new shoes. Almost all of our guests mentioned the importance of becoming accustomed to the footwear before setting out to walk.
  • Sara’s regimen involved walking five miles a minimum of 2-3 times a week. As she got closer to her departure, she and friends would walk 10-12 miles together.
  • Teri and Nicole were both busy wrapping up the school year, and finding time to train was difficult, but they walked as much as they could.
  • Dan began training 12 weeks out. For the first 6 weeks he ran 3-5 miles 3 times a day on a treadmill. Closer to his departure time he ran 7 ½ miles with a 20-pound pack.

Sites Along the Way

Along the trail there are multiple opportunities to linger over breathtaking vistas, explore ancient architecture, and walk through vineyards that sprawl. A good guidebook will provide a listing of significant sites. Dan suggests travelers with extra time might add a few extra days in order to visit these special landmarks.

Finisterre, which translated means “Edge of the World,” marked a highlight for Petra. She describes this final destination as the perfect ending to her camino. “Looking out onto that ocean was emotional. I really felt like I had made a journey. More than just traveling physically, I’d made a journey as a person, and I felt like I was looking into eternity, something endless, and I felt full of potential.”

Teri and Nicole reminisce about the nightly masses where pilgrims are warmly invited to receive blessings in the small towns they visit. They describe the power that comes with being part of a long and significant tradition.

Tricks and Tips to Take on Your Camino

Our guests shared their suggestions to ensure a smoother journey.

  • Don’t overdo it. Sometimes it’s tempting to walk more than you should. Stop when you are tired. Sore hips and blisters are no fun.
  • Prepare for cold. Petra warns that the large dorms can be chilly. She suggests bringing an extra pair of socks to wear in bed at night. Ear muffs, windbreakers, rain jackets, and something to keep your pack dry can help keep you warm and dry.  
  • Walking poles might help. Not everyone uses them, but many pilgrims find poles are a helpful aid. Conveniently, there’s no need to purchase these beforehand. We’re told they’re easy to pick up on the trail.
  • Avoid blisters. Dan advises that sock liners alleviate friction between the sock and the skin. Others suggest wearing two pair of socks for a similar outcome. Nicole and Teri applied Vicks salve on their feet each morning having heard this was an effective preventative.
  • Pack light. For those who elect to hike with backpacks on, this detail is especially important. (For those who don’t wish to carry a large backpack, porters are available along the trail for a reasonable fee.) If traveling with others, consider splitting up supplies. Not everyone needs to bring the first aid kit and sunscreen.
  • Invest in a good sunhat. Protection from the sun is easier with a good hat that is made of sun protective fabric.

Wonder and Understanding

Everyone’s camino is unique because each pilgrim is on a different journey. Our guests’ recollections of gems gleaned on the trail are moving and profound.

Petra summed up her experience telling us, “It felt like I came into my own being on the trail. I’m a lot less easily frustrated now than I used to be, and I’m kinder to myself and to other people.”

Several guests observed that their experience revealed how little they needed to feel contentment. As their backpacks grew lighter, faith in their own skills and in the kindness of strangers was magnified.

Everyone agreed the Camino inspired them to slow down and to be more open to conversations with strangers . Our guests found they were more present and therefore able to listen and share in more meaningful ways.

Teri and Nicole achieved spiritual renewal along with a profound realization that whatever path they were walking, literally and figuratively, they were where they were supposed to be.

Amina described a meaningful ritual she practiced on the trail. Each day that she walked she carried a stone. As she made her way forward, whenever the moment moved her, Amina would place that stone on the side of the road to symbolize a burden being left behind. Soon after, she’d pick up another stone and continue on the trail repeating the same ritual when the timing felt right. “It was as though I left the trail 20 pound lighter,” she told us. In the evening she would journal about the burdens she’d removed and note the ways her ideas and feelings shifted as a result.

Journaling on the Trail

The people we interviewed are self-described journalers and each found creative ways to capture meaningful moments experienced on the trail.

Journaling played a significant role in the days Petra spent walking her camino. Almost daily, she reflected on the ideas she encountered and she reports how helpful it was to have a place to consider the gifts of the day.

Sara journals regularly at home, and she brought a journal to jot down daily mileage and reference the places she walked through. Interestingly, she noted that as time wore on she began to “journal less and experience more.”

When Teri and Nicole forgot their journals at home, they used their guidebook to record important details. They underlined the names of places they ate and stayed, and made notes of people they met and adventures they encountered. With a focus on gratitude, journaling helped to diminish any physical discomfort they experienced. To mark their journey, when they returned home, Teri and Nicole compiled photos and notes that they added to memory books commemorating their pilgrimage.

Amina journals “constantly” and this did not change on the Camino where she found writing to be as helpful as ever. As for Dan, on his fourth day of walking, a rain-soaked journal prevented him from writing. He relied on his camera to memorialize his trip, a process he found deeply satisfying.

Recommended Resources

The list below is a collection of resources referenced in our Camino interviews.

Books

  • Amina suggests Paulo Coehlo’s book, The Pilgrimage.
  • Teri and Nicole recommend A Pilgrim’s Guide to the Camino de Santiago by John Brierly

Gear and Supplies

  • Sarah loved her Oboz boots and Darn Tough and Balega socks.
  • Dan relied on Compeed to treat blisters.

Luggage Service

Hotels

Tour Company
Sara highly recommends Camino Tours telling us, “They did a fabulous job.”

Final Thoughts

Everyone we spoke with agreed with the sentiment behind this popular quote: “You don’t walk your camino with your feet, you walk it with your heart.” If you should find yourself walking your own camino one day, take your time on the trail and don’t compare yourself to others. Your walk is your own and it will lead you to the place where you are meant to be.

If you enjoyed these conversations, listen to our interview with travel journaler Lauren Hooper for more ideas.

How Journaling Can Help You Get in Shape, with Michale Hartte

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We are beyond excited to tell you about our interview with wellness coach Michale Hartte, because we know her ideas can help. Whether you struggle with achieving wellness goals or you’re just looking for extra inspiration to maximize your health regimen, you won’t want to miss this conversation. Discover the ways journaling can help you achieve optimal health and fitness.  

To learn more, listen to our interview, or read below to see highlights from our talk.

Michale has 20 years of experience helping people get fit and healthy through her courses and 1 on 1 consulting. She is also the author of The Fit ‘n Healthy Plan and writes for numerous magazines. Michale’s passion to help others stems from experience reversing her own cases of amenorrhea and osteoporosis through diet, detox, and daily routine. 

Michale credits journaling with saving her life. As a child, she struggled hard to fit in. Low self-esteem and a desire to feel accepted led Michale toward unhealthy behaviors like smoking and anorexia.

Years later, Michale began to seek answers. “I sat down and asked, ‘Who am I, and why am I here?’  I journaled about it, got it out of my body, and I started to see my story in my journal. It made sense, and  I realized exactly why I’m here.”

Since this life-changing discovery, Michale has established healthy habits, a strong mind and body, and now she helps others do the same. She attributes much of her success to journaling.

Michale’s Top Three Tips to Help Slim Down and Get Stronger

1. Have confidence in the right plan. There are so many diets to choose from. The goal is to select a plan that will work for the long-term and that emphasizes health not merely weight loss.

2. Be consistent. Establishing a morning time journaling routine helps maintain a schedule that ensures you reach your goals. Michale suggests starting each day by recording important key indicators in your journal which include tracking:

  • sleep patterns
  • energy levels
  • bowel movements
  • menstrual cycles if you are a woman

This kind of record keeping shines a light on important details you can use to track your body’s response to diet, exercise, and particular sleep routines. You’ll see where and when you’re  falling off track. In these ways, journaling helps us stay accountable.  

3. Find your courage and glean support. You don’t have to do this alone. Seek out or cultivate a community void of judgement in which you are loved and your health goals are supported.

The Value of a Good Night’s Rest

Each of us has different health goals. In Michale’s case, she’s focused on optimizing her brain and body health in order to ensure a long and productive life. To achieve this goal, she commits to getting enough sleep. As an explanation, she recommends everyone read Lights Out: Sleep, Sugar, and Survival by T. S. Wiley and Bent Formby.

Wiley and Formby show that getting the required amount of sleep supports healthy weight loss because it curves our cravings for unhealthy carbs. Among other benefits of a good night’s rest cited in this book are:

  • reversal of type 2 diabetes
  •  relief from depression
  • normalized blood pressure
  • reduced risk of heart disease and cancer

All of this sounds great, but sometimes a good night’s sleep feels elusive. Michaele has an answer for that. She explains that preparation for a good night’s sleep starts in the morning.

Michale credits a consistent morning routine with her healthy sleep hygiene. In the morning, she puts a kettle on for beloved black organic coffee—chock full  of antioxidants to support healthy aging. For this part of her day, Michale remains in a fasted state, giving her body time to “clean up old worn out cells.” She does an oil pull with coconut oil while waiting for coffee. From there, along with her coffee, Michale drinks one liter of water within 2 hours of waking. This helps turn the brain on and gets her feeling energized. From there she enters her office where she takes out her journal and records key markers (sleep bowel movements, menstruation, and energy) from the day before. Michale reviews the information and makes connections between how her body is performing vs the food, exercise, and level of activity she engaged with the day before.

This journaling routine, Michale notes, helps people be in alignment with their goals.

Healthy Meal Plans That Squash Inflammation and Lower Blood Sugar

Michale doesn’t track the specific foods she eats and never records calorie counts. She discourages her clients from doing so as well. Insead, she offers tips to ensure your body gets exactly the nutrients it needs to perform well.

  1. Choose your protein source. Protein is a part of every cell in the body and it’s a fundamental part of a healthy diet.
  2. Eat healthy carbs. We need fiber found in colorful veggies to produce regular bowel movements that remove toxins from the body.
  3. Consume healthy fats for their anti-inflammatory effects.
  4. Prebiotic foods like beets and dandelion greens and probiotic foods such as sauerkraut, kimchi, kefir, and yogurt encourage healthy gut bacteria.
  5. Digest minerals to help take pain away. Sea vegetables full of trace minerals such as nori, dulse, and kelp are good sources. Drink a cup of bone broth each day.
  6. Season your food with herbs and spices—parsley is a diuretic for the kidneys, oregano bolsters the immune system, and cilantro is a heavy metal detoxer.

 If all this talk of food is making your mouth water, you can download Michale’s cookbook, Fit ‘N Healthy Plan, on her website.

Your Action Plan

Michale’s final words of wisdom came to her via Bob Proctors and his staff. She teaches, “See what you want. Be it how you want it and become it now.”

We would also add, love who you are right now today even before you lose the weight.

Journaling.com’s Top 10 Favorite Tools for Physical Health (2020)

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Achieve Your Health & Wellness Goals

From stress reduction and improved immune function to better sleep and blood pressure regulation, journaling’s impact on health is well-proven. We’ve noticed a growing number of guided journals and other tools designed to help achieve health and wellness goals, and we’ve listed our favorites here. So grab an apple and a tall glass of water, and check out Journaling.com’s Top Ten Tools for Physical Health!

Our Top 10 Favorite Tools for Physical Health

1. Green Smoothie Habit by Jane Haddad

You may wonder what smoothies have to do with journaling. Trust us; if you’re looking for a surefire way to get quick, nutritious foods into your diet, this is a book you don’t want to miss. We love this kind-spirited, easy to use food program because it offers so much more than just recipes; it’s also a program that combines weekly menu plans, shopping lists, recipes, and journaling opportunities so that green smoothie drinking becomes part of your regular routine. We wish more recipe books and diet programs included journaling. Big dietary changes bring up intense feelings. Addressing these emotions goes a long way in ensuring your efforts are successful. 

2. Weight Loss Affirmations: Guided Journal for Women by Felicity Jenkins

Affirmations sprinkled throughout this guided journal’s pages remind us to tune in and nourish both our bodies and our spirits. This book, a celebration of self-love and self-care, provides guided journaling prompts like, “Do I invest in my own health and well-being?” which help you dig deep to understand thoughts, processes, and habits.

3. The Fat Loss and Nutrition Sidekick Journal by Habit Nest

The goal of this book and guided journal is to help develop positive daily eating habits. It starts by helping you understand your why – why do you want to change dietary behaviors? This book’s solid information about nutrition, along with its daily motivational entries, can help you stay on track. What we especially appreciate about this resource is its versatility. If you are excited to experiment with a new way of eating – Keto, Paleo, Whole30, or any other– this journal can help you develop a plan that’s realistic, rewarding, and successful. This journal takes only five minutes of your day and yet, as the author points out, “every single day in your life where you start your morning with focus, intent, and energy will automatically be a better day of your life.”  We totally agree!

4. The Weightlifting Gym Buddy Journal by Habit Nest

Habit Nest has a journal to suit your every need, and in our opinion, this resource is one of their best! It’s evident that a great deal of work and care went into this training journal. It includes a 12-week workout and exercise journal/log and a fitness planner that begins with a crash course on nutrition and weightlifting; it ends with special content showing how to create accountability systems that keep you going. This journal program comes with video guides and detailed exercise descriptions. It’s designed for on-your-own workouts, but we find it’s also a great recording tool for those working out with a personal trainer. We particularly appreciate the highly motivating daily challenges included. 

5. Journaling Power: How to Create the Happy, Healthy Life You Want to Live by Mary L. McCarthy

20 years ago, Mari McCarthy lost feeling and function in the right side of her body; these symptoms led to a diagnosis of multiple sclerosis. In response, Mari used journaling techniques to regain control of her health, and the results were exciting. As she began looking at research studies and interviewing others who were also experiencing profound physical benefits from journaling, she made a decision to share the power of journaling with others. We had the pleasure of talking with Mari on our podcast and found her stories and knowledge tremendously moving. If you or someone you know is experiencing health challenges, this book is a powerful tool to help unlock the healing benefits of journaling.

6. Morning Yoga RITUAL: Yoga | Journaling | Meditation: Six Unique 30-Minute Routines Brett Larkin DVD

Maybe you’ve seen Brett Larkin’s popular yoga videos on YouTube. Now you can combine her yoga with your meditation and journaling practice in the comfort of your own home. Larkin understands the powerful relationship between physical and emotional health, and this workout speaks to both. Each routine is appropriate for people with varying skillsets and she provides tips for those wishing to level up.

7. Opening Up by Writing It Down: How Expressive Writing Improves Health and Eases Emotional Pain by James W. Pennebaker and Joshua M. Smyth

Dr. James Pennebaker is a pioneer in the field of expressive writing and was a recent guest on our podcast. Along with Joshua M. Smyth, a professor of biobehavioral health and medicine, he’s written one of our favorite books about the benefits of therapeutic writing. Opening Up by Writing It Down explains the sociological and scientific research that proves the healing power of expressive writing. Pennebaker and Smyth’s work is a fascinating and affirming read. A great place to start.

8. Happy & Free: A Food Journal and Activity Log to Track Your Eating and Exercise for Optimal Weight Loss (90-Day Diet & Fitness Tracker) by Happy Books Hub

Straight forward, encouraging, and easy to use, this food journal makes tracking your diet and exercise choices a seamless part of the day. The research shows that healthy eating is well supported by a journaling routine that helps to recognize patterns and provides accountability. This journal provides space to log water intake, sleep time, cravings, and responses. There’s room to reflect on progress and to contemplate areas of growth. We love this book because of its no-nonsense, comprehensive and supportive approach.

9. HEALTHMINDER Personal Wellness Journal by F. E. Wilkin

If you live with chronic pain and need a way to track your progress and health setbacks, this journal might be the very tool you need. HEALTHMINDER helps track medications, vitamins, vital signs, pain, sleep habits, daily exercise, and meals. Honestly, this journal’s creator has thought of everything–right down to including pictures of the human body that can be marked to show where you are experiencing pain or other symptoms. Tracking the details is an efficient way to help connect the dots and understand the key factors impacting your health.

10. Journaling the Chakras: Eight Weeks to Self-Discovery by Amber Lea Starfire

This book made it onto our list because we believe that physical health and emotional awareness go hand in hand. Self-awareness and meaningful self-expression can alleviate some physical symptoms and also help achieve the kind of balance that’s required to live more peacefully with long-term health issues. Whether you are new to journaling or have a long-established writing practice, there’s something in this book for you. The powerful journaling prompts and guided activities found here will help you navigate a wide range of life’s circumstances. This is the sort of book you’ll want to keep handy on your bookshelf to refer to often.

Heal Yourself Using Journaling Power, with Mari L. McCarthy

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Scientists confirm that journaling impacts our physical health in tangible, even quantifiable ways. Our conversation with author Mari L. McCarthy demonstrates the powerful benefits of expressive writing.

Mari is the Founder and Chief Empowerment Officer of CreateWriteNow.com. She is the multi award-winning author of Journaling Power: How To Create the Happy, Healthy Life You Want To Live and Heal Your Self With Journaling Power. She is also the creator of 20+ life-changing Journaling Power eWorkbooks such as Start Changing Your Life, Love Your Body and Take Control of Your Health.

Mari’s work is an inspiration. It was a privilege to talk with her about the ways journaling helps us make peace with our bodies. To learn more, read below to see highlights from our conversation, or listen to our interview on The Power of Journaling.

Before we begin, please note, Journaling.com does not provide medical advice. This conversation is for informational purposes only, and as always, we advise talking with your healthcare provider before making changes to any wellness routine.

Mari’s Story
Mari’s story is personal. Her sensitive approach to the work she does mentoring and empowering people with chronic conditions comes from her experience living with multiple sclerosis.

By the winter of ‘98, Mari had been living with an MS diagnosis for eight years. She knew her body and her symptoms well at that point, so when she woke up with lost feeling on her right side, she paid attention. This symptom, Mari realized, marked a change in her physical health.

Mari intuited that this symptom would not subside in a few weeks, and she was right. The only palatable choice was to adapt.  

“I realized I needed to teach myself to write with my left hand in order to keep working,” she explains. Undaunted, Mari spoke with a woman who referred her to Julia Cameron’s revolutionary book, The Artists Way. It was there she discovered Morning Pages.

Cameron describes Morning Pages, a widely popular journaling technique, as “writing three pages of longhand stream of consciousness first thing in the morning.”  Morning Pages bring ideas and concerns to the surface of our minds. The act of writing this way helps us to prioritize thoughts we want to invest energy into and puts unproductive fears and worries into perspective.

Each morning, Mari endeavored to write Morning Pages using her left hand. With a sense of irony, she acknowledges, “I started journaling for physical therapy purposes only.” But quickly she started to note the cadence and rhythm of her words, and she began writing poetry for the first time.

Forgotten memories started turning up on the pages of Mari’s journal. One startling discovery was the recollection that she’d been left-handed as a child. When she entered school, she’d been instructed to use only her right hand. Her mother confirmed this memory was true.  

As Mari made more discoveries, she saw journaling as a tool to unlock emotions. She felt it helping her achieve wellness and clarity as well. Mari has been an avid journaler since.

Journaling Opens Communication Lines
In her work supporting clients with a wide range of illnesses, Mari observes that many people do not enjoy a positive relationship with their bodies. She notes that many of us carry thoughts and experiences from childhood that have been internalized and are stuck inside.

Through journaling, new communication lines are established between our brains and our bodies. We become able to converse with our bodies in new ways as we cultivate language that shines a light on how we feel at a physical level.

As this communication grows in depth and precision, we feel our relationship with our bodies strengthen in positive ways.

Cultivate a Peaceful Relationship With Your Body
Mari invites us to use journaling to help connect and communicate with our bodies in a voice that is kind, forgiving, and compassionate. She explains that journaling everyday helps us to see when we aren’t treating ourselves with care.

The following tips from Mari will help foster connectedness and relationship with your physical self.

  • Dialogue with your body. Ask how it’s feeling today and listen carefully to its response.

  • Approach your body in the spirit of teamwork. Many of us have an adversarial relationship with our bodies. Be mindful of meeting your body with curiosity instead of judgment.

  • Write your heart out. It’s okay to rant and rave. Get the garbage out. Give yourself permission to purge. This brave act will decrease stress and facilitate meaningful processing of thoughts and emotions.

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Action steps

Mari acknowledges it’s initially difficult to sit down and dialogue with one’s body. It might feel silly at first, and you might feel anger and lack the compassion you aim to achieve. But she assures us that with time we will get there. Developing relationships, even with ourselves, is a slow, deep process. Be gentle with yourself!

If you enjoyed reading this article, you might also want to read about our conversation with Leia Francisco in which she talks about writing  through challenging life transitions. https://journaling.com/articles/write-your-way-through-challenging-life-transitions-with-leia-francisco/

Ideas and Insights from the Creator of the Bullet Journal, with Ryder Carroll

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Ryder Carroll’s bestselling book The Bullet Journal Method: Track the Past, Order the Present, Design the Future has transformed the journaling landscape. Ryder’s innovative approach to productivity and mindfulness, through a method he calls Bullet Journaling, has contributed significantly to the rising number of people journaling today. He’s been featured by the New York Times, LA Times, Fast Company, The Wall Street Journal, BBC, Vogue, Bloomberg, and others. If you aren’t already familiar with Ryder’s groundbreaking work, you are in for a treat. It is a huge pleasure to welcome this visionary thinker to Journaling.com.

You can listen to his interview by pressing the play button below, or continue on to read the highlights of our conversation.

The Early Beginning

Ryder describes Bullet Journaling as “a mindfulness practice disguised as a productivity system.” Interestingly, when Ryder set out to develop this system, mindfulness was not foremost on his mind. Growing up with a diagnosis of ADD, Ryder often struggled to keep up with peers. This challenge eventually inspired him to design a productivity system to assist with becoming more efficient and better organized.

The methods Ryder developed helped him attain his professional goals. But despite numerous work-place achievements, Ryder recognized his accomplishments weren’t yielding personal fulfillment. “I realized a lot of my goals were appropriated from the world around me—namely peers and media. I never asked myself what I wanted or what was important in my life.”

A New Direction

Ryder returned to the productivity tools he’d developed and began to use them for inward self-reflection. Bullet Journaling, he discovered, not only helped increase productivity, it also provided a foundation for rigorous self-examination. And that, he tells me, is when things got interesting!

The words we write down are experiences waiting to be born.

Ryder Carroll

A New Approach to Task Lists

Ryder observes, “We live in a time when productivity is worshipped.” Indeed, we oftentimes equate a mile-long to-do list with our level of significance in the universe.

As our to-do lists grow, so too does our anxiety. This insight led Ryder to ask, what if the task- list were to become part of an “existential” exploration that assesses the quality of experiences that fill our days?

Today Ryder helps others contemplate their task lists in order to maximize their time spent tending to activities that provide fulfillment and meaning. He explains to his readers, “I can’t tell you what will make your life better, but from my own experiences, I can share ways of thinking that may help you find those answers for yourself.”

Shift Your Perspective

Ryder’s message to journalers is an uplifting one. “The words we write down are experiences waiting to be born not just a list of stuff we have to do. Our task lists are a preview to the life we are building.”

When we think of to-do lists in this new light, it helps us to:

  • ask why we do the tasks we do each day. In turn, we become more selective in choosing which tasks we can commit to.
  • clarify what’s important in our lives on an ongoing, regular basis so that we focus on tasks that have the greatest meaning and value in our lives.
  • reengage with the content we write down in meaningful, deeper ways.

Ryder’s Tips for Reengaging with Content

Your journal is a treasure chest filled with nuggets of wisdom and insight. Reengaging with your journal’s content on a regular basis helps you assimilate deeper understanding.

  1. Keep your journal nearby:  Throughout the day, jot down tasks, ideas, and questions to pursue later on. These notes can be brief. The goal is simply to capture these thoughts on paper in order to preserve them and to free up your mind for other thoughts.
  2. Daily Reflection:  Before bed, review the content you’ve written down that day. Use this moment to observe and clarify how the day’s tasks moved (or didn’t move) your life in a meaningful and desirable direction.
  3. Monthly Migration: Once a month, review the previous week’s journal entries. After some contemplation, rewrite only those words that still have value and purpose in your life. Vital tasks and thoughts will migrate with you into the next month. Leave unnecessary obligations and distractions behind by omitting them from this migration process.

Evaluate Your Task List

We are a culture on auto pilot trying to accomplish an infinite list of tasks. Streamlining task lists so they are an approximation of the life we want to cultivate is vital. To help with this process, Ryder recommends considering these questions:

  • How do the tasks on your list make you feel?
  • Which of these responsibilities do you want more or less of in your life?
  • Of the tasks you completed today, which ones were essential? Which provided you with fulfillment, pleasure, and meaning?
  • What would have happened if one of the tasks on your list was not completed?
  • Which of the items on your list could be eliminated without any negative consequences?

Put your To-Do List into Context

Whether or not an act is vital is sometimes unclear. To help untangle this ambiguity, Ryder uses the example of washing dishes. Theoretically, this task is not vital. Nothing catastrophic will happen if you never wash a dish again. You could simply use paper plates or eat all of your meals in restaurants. But context, Ryder explains, is what matters here. If you live with someone you care about who cooks dinner every evening, in this context, washing dishes is vital because it’s a way for you to reciprocate that person’s act of kindness.  

Seeing a task in its own unique context, Ryder points out, infuses even our most base chores with new meaning.

Why It Matters

In the midst of crisis, people are often compelled to face life’s “big questions.” They ask themselves what in my life matters most to me? What are my regrets? Who do I love, and have I adequately cared for these people? Have my actions made a difference in the world?

Instead of waiting for a moment of crisis to contemplate these issues, checking in regularly, asking these questions frequently, alleviates pressure and makes these inquiries less daunting.

It Doesn’t Have to Be Fancy

We see them on Instagram and YouTube all the time—those gorgeous Bullet Journals that make us swoon. Elaborate interpretations of the bullet journaling method are great fun to look at and can be a tremendous source of inspiration. But Ryder wants to be sure users remember that Bullet Journaling is based on particular methods that do not rely on looking a specific way. “Bullet Journaling is a paper mirror there to reflect your choices, responsibilities, and the things that matter back at you.” How this paper mirror looks is not an important part of its functionality, Ryder reminds us. Instead, he insists, your Bullet Journal should look however you need it to. Every life has unique requirements and so a journal should be customized for the individual it serves.

Your Action Plan

Start your own bullet journal with help from the official Bullet Journal notebook which was designed by Ryder to support your individualized needs.

  • Listen to our entire conversation on our podcast, The Power of Journaling.
  • Make space in your writing life to integrate Daily Reflections and Monthly Migrations.

In talking with Ryder, it became clear that a productivity system is only as effective as the level of mindfulness it inspires. How does mindfulness inform your own productivity? We’d love to hear all about it. Reach out to us on Facebook.

Three Ways Journal Planners Cultivate Happiness, with Mo Seetubtim

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Mo Seetubtim, founder & CEO of The Happiness Planner, conceived a novel idea. What if planners and journals were blended into one fabulous tool? Today, Mo designs beautiful products that can help you explore your inner world, master your mind, and find happiness from within. At Journaling.com, we were so impressed by Mo’s creations that we selected her Happiness Planner as one of the top 10 planners in 2019. It’s an enormous pleasure to introduce you to Mo and to the inspiring resources she’s created.  

To learn more, listen to our interview or read below to see highlights from my conversation with Mo.

A global nomad who’s called numerous places home, Mo resides in Europe for now. In her travels, Mo has observed the ways journaling practices go hand in hand with a society’s reading culture. She speaks of how the French’s love of the written word correlates with their affection for journaling. The Japanese, who have a rich history of paper making and design, seek out aesthetically pleasing journaling products that reflect this cultural element.  

The seeds for Mo’s own journaling practice were sown by her father, a marathon runner, entrepreneur, and avid journal writer who recognized the ways writing helped expand his self-awareness. Today journaling is a regular and important part of Mo’s own self-care routine.

As Mo worked on her design for a product that combined the traditional daily planner with the act of journaling, she observed two key things. A planner requires one to look to the future. A journal inspires observation and reflection on thoughts and behaviors in order to develop deeper self-awareness.

Realizing that these tools were perfect complements and could be integrated into one straightforward resource, the Happiness Planner was born. Mo explains that a journaling planner inspires users to make time to prioritize the contemplation and evaluation of specific thoughts and behavioral patterns.

Three Ways Journal Planners Guide you Toward  Happiness

Mo discussed three ways journal planners help us to find more happiness in life.

  1. Journal planners help us to explore our inner world and observe thoughts and behaviors that might be otherwise overlooked.

    It’s hard to see negative patterns unless we learn to observe them. Journaling, Mo explains, lets us identify helpful and unhelpful patterns of behaviors so that we can cultivate ways of being that enrich our lives and eliminate all the rest. 

  2. Journal planners help rewire the brain.

    Mo reminds us that we can rewire our brain to change thoughts and behaviors and establish positive new habits. Journal Planners help us commit time to activities we aren’t used to doing. Whether this is exercise, cooking healthy meals, or making time for a hobby, once these activities are prioritized in your journal planner and are repeated over and over, you’ve rewired your brain and integrated these activities into your life.

  3. A journal planner helps cultivate a relationship with one’s self.

    Mo describes herself as someone who finds deep joy in solitude, and she notes that true happiness comes from within. A journal planner can deepen the relationship we have  with ourselves which in turn provides the clarity we need to navigate challenging moments in life.

Journal planners help us to explore our inner world and observe thoughts and behaviors that might be otherwise overlooked.

Mo Seetubtim

Writing Prompts to Identify What Brings You Happiness

Light a candle, pour some tea, and gift yourself with a moment to explore the journaling prompts Mo shares below.

  • Write about activities that bring you joy.
  • Identify your values and the actions that will help you live in a manner that promotes your system of beliefs.
  • Reflect on a moment in your life that brought deep joy. Consider ways to ensure these moments are repeated.

These questions require us to dig deeply. A journal planner facilitates this process so that it becomes an ongoing practice in our lives.  

Ideas on the Horizon

Mo looks forward to creating new tools to further support the journaling community. Her mention of theme journals especially stood out to us. She describes these as guided journals containing prompts and worksheets loaded with questions designed to address issues such as self-love, consciousness, attachment, and fear.

In the year ahead, Mo also looks forward to hosting engaging, fun-filled events focused on self-awareness raising and confidence building.  

Your Action Plan

  • The Happiness Planner isn’t the only tool in Mo’s journaling toolbox. Visit her website  to see all of the resources she offers, and choose the one that’s right for you.
  •  Listen to our interview with Mo on The Power of Journaling.
  • Spend time with your journal exploring Mo’s writing prompts up above.

Mo’s work is a joy-filled reminder that journaling helps construct a strong foundation made of self-awareness and understanding that can help us to weather life’s ups and downs.

If You Enjoyed This Interview…

If you found my conversation with Mo helpful, you may also enjoy my interview with positive psychology coach, Nancy Scherlong, in which we discuss the ways journaling cultivates a sense of well-being. Visit The Power of Journaling podcast to hear our discussion or read the highlights of our chat here on Journaling.com.

Journaling Tips for People Who Don’t Like to Write, with Maud Purcell

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Not everyone enjoys writing. And that’s okay. Maybe you have carpal tunnel syndrome, learning differences, or a young infant in your arms. Any number of circumstances can make it difficult to engage with the physical act of writing.

At Journaling.com, we are such believers in the benefits of journaling that we want to be sure no one is left out. I asked psychotherapist Maud Purcell to suggest creative work-arounds for non-writers.  I’m eager to share her tips to help you glean the benefits of journaling without writing down a word.

Maud is a Founder and Executive Director of The Life Solution Center of Darien.  She has been quoted in the NY Times and The Wall Street Journal and interviewed nationally and internationally on television and radio.

You can hear this conversation on our podcast, The Power of Journaling, or read highlights of our talk down below.

Put Down Your Pen and Pick Up Your iPhone

Whether you enjoy the act of writing or not, you can enjoy the benefits of slowing down your thinking and tapping into creative thought processes.

  • If writing is impractical, use an iPhone or any other appropriate device to record your thoughts and feelings.
  • Play back your recording and reflect on what you hear. 
  • Respond to journaling prompts extraneously. Let your mind go where it likes.
  • Forget about grammar!

If you enjoy writing, but don’t always have the time, recording your feelings is a practical alternative. Experiment with this technique in the car during your morning commute and just see what happens!

Instead of writing, speak extemporaneously into an iPhone or recorder. Forget about punctuation and grammar. Let your mind go wherever it wants without censor.

Maud Purcell

Try Writing in the Air

Dr. Pennebacker, a former guest on Journaling.com and an expert on the benefits of journaling, explained that finger writing—writing words in the air—works to slow our thinking down and provides similar benefits as more traditional journaling methods.

Awaken the Senses

Sensory details unearth memories and heighten overall experiences. Before you hit that record button, Maud recommends waking up your senses in positive ways:

  • Drink a warm, aromatic beverage.
  • Sit among fresh flowers.
  • Light candles.
  • Wrap yourself in a soft cozy blanket.

When we associate our recording time with positive sights, sounds, smells, and feelings, we look forward to these moments and quickly establish a productive, enlightening routine.

Your Action Plan

  • Learn more about Maud’s work. Visit her at The Life Solution Center of Darien.
  • For more ideas and information, listen to my interview with Maud.
  • Enliven your senses with sounds, scents, and textures.

Six Ways to Keep Journal Writing Fresh, with Lynda Monk

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Whether you are new to journal writing or it’s been a part of your life forever, keeping the process fresh is important. Journaling expert Lynda Monk, MSW, RSW, CPCC, is full of ideas to help you engage with your journaling practice in colorful ways. It’s a joy to welcome her to Journaling.com.

Lynda is the Director of the International Association for Journal Writing.  A registered social worker and Certified Professional Life Coach, Lynda specializes in therapeutic journaling for self-care, burnout prevention, wellness, and creative self-expression, and she regularly speaks on the healing and transformational power of life writing. She is the co-author of Writing Alone Together: Journalling in a Circle of Women for Creativity, Compassion and Connection,  as well as co-author of the international bestseller Inspiration for a Woman’s SoulChoosing Happiness.  She is also the author of Life Source Writing: A Reflective Journaling Practice for Self-Discovery, Self-Care, Wellness and Creativity and producer of the Creative Wellness Guided Meditations CD. 

To listen to our podcast interview with Lynda, click on the play button below. Or keep reading to see the written highlights from our talk.

Flexibility is Fundamental

When Lynda talks about her own journaling practice, a spirit of flexibility infuses her approach. As a mother to young teens, her free time is limited, but she says that journaling remains a priority in her life, and she always keeps her journal with her. A commute by ferry gives Lynda a stretch of time to freewrite. Waiting in parking lots for her children to finish afterschool activities, gifts Lynda more opportunities to jot down her thoughts onto paper.

Since time is limited, Lynda’s come to recognize the value in maximizing opportunities to write. This realization led her to a series of techniques to keep her writing practice fresh and inviting. These techniques/tips are gleaned from years of study. Lynda attended a memoir writing residency at Banff School of the Arts, and trained with many of the top leaders in expressive writing and therapeutic writing. These tips are light and easy-to-do, but they are grounded in evidence-based practice and years of education and experience. It’s this experience and knowledge that makes Lynda one of the top experts in the journaling field.

An ongoing journaling practice is like any long term relationship. When you show up to it again and again with enthusiasm and positivity, great things happen.

Lynda Monk

Lynda’s Six Tips to Keep Journaling Fresh

In addition to being trained and educated in this field, Lynda is also a life-long journaler herself.

  1. Clarify your intentions. Lynda recommends regularly checking in with yourself to identify what motivates you to journal. Gaining this insight keeps journaling fresh because it helps you constantly rediscover the “whys” you want answers to.
  2. Cultivate curiosity. Arrive at each writing session with wonder and an eagerness to make new discoveries. Approach your journal with wide-open eyes and engage with questions that have risen to the surface. New questions foster new awareness that we can follow up on with a plan for action.
  3. Honor the questions in your heart.  In life, the big question marks we encounter point us in the directions we most need to contemplate. When we honor this need, we tap into fresh material to help us cultivate inner wisdom.
  4. Affirm the contributions journaling makes to your life. Just like brushing your teeth or taking a shower, journaling may be an essential component of your self-care routine. When we acknowledge the ways journaling makes us a better parent, partner, son or daughter, we don’t have to struggle to justify fitting this mindfulness act into our schedules.
  5. Journal with other people. Writing Alone Together, a book Lynda co-authored with  friends Wendy Cutler and Ahava Shira, was born from their shared experiences in a journaling club. For three years, the trio met monthly to share space and writing. Through that experience, Lynda’s appreciation for the power of storytelling and community was reinforced. Together the friends cultivated a space for active quiet listening.
  6. Journal in a variety of settings. New surroundings provide a fresh outlook and shift in our perspective. There’s no right or wrong location. Visit a park or forest. Sit on the earth or a comfy couch. Write down your thoughts in a coffee shop or from your deck. The ways that we connect with our environment will be reflected in how we engage with our journals.

Other Tips and Techniques

Lynda recommends that we adapt techniques used in other forms of writing.

  • Journal with dialogue. If faced with a difficult choice between two possibilities, give each option a voice. Engage both sides in dialogue on the pages of your journal.
  • Develop characters. If you were to put a face and personality on your anxiety, joy, or grief, what would that look like? Who would that person be?

Lynda notes, “Journaling is an act of storytelling.  Journalers are storytellers who capture moments, insights, and inner workings as each merges onto the pages of their journal.”

Your Action Plan

  • Discover more about Lynda’s work. Visit her online at Creative Wellness –  and learn about the work she does supporting healthcare professionals with Thrive Training and Coaching 
  • Explore IAJW’s website and consider becoming a member of this vibrant community.

Read Lynda’s book Writing Alone Together

  • Listen to our podcast interview with Lynda.
  • Invigorate your writing life. Give Lynda’s six suggestions a try this week.

Lynda wisely equates an ongoing journaling practice with any long term relationship. She reminds us that when we show up to journal again and again with enthusiasm, great things happen. Greeting each writing session with an attitude of positivity keeps our writing fresh and meaningful.