We are closely following BC government COVID-19 guidelines. View our protocols here.
By Katie Dixon

Journaling: Conversations with Yourself

Journaling: Conversations with Yourself
I used to journal all the time in my 20s. I needed to. It felt like if I didn't...I would implode. I needed an outlet for all my swirling doubts, insecurities and fears about myself and my life.

At that time I was living with my parents and working part time at a crisis line downtown Toronto, so I didn’t have extra income for counselling. Journalling was cheap, accessible and it worked like a charm most of the time.  When I would stop and give myself space to write down my thoughts and feelings, I started to notice my body sighing with relief. I would feel the storm pass and I would walk away with a deeper understanding of myself. 

Now, in my 30’s, I don't have as many turbulent days where I NEED to journal but journaling has become a sort of check-in point when I am feeling a bit off or having a hard time processing something.

You can think of it like having conversations with yourself.

Conversations that will lead to a healthier and more connected relationship between you and your mind and your emotional experience.  It’s like a meeting about a project at work. At first you are a bit unclear about things, not sure what the others are thinking and feeling, but by the end of the meeting, you understand each other and feel more on the same page (cute pun alert!) and feel a sense of direction.

You might be thinking, why is writing things down more helpful than, say, speaking to yourself in your head or aloud? This is because the mind is non-linear.  Trying to think through an issue often leads us to loops-de-loops, mental movies of worst case scenarios, and let's be honest, it doesn’t take much to get distracted by other thoughts like, “I heard Olivia Wilde is dating Harry Styles...I wonder if google has any cute pics of them together?!” In this way, Journaling helps us to focus and ‘stick with’ what we are feeling and thinking. It is a tool for holding space for ourselves when we do not have a close friend or therapist nearby. 

I think it is important to keep in mind, however, that if painful or traumatic memories come to the surface and feel too difficult to sit with, it is advised to reach out and book a session with your therapist or call a crisis line for the support that you need. 

Other benefits to putting it down on “paper” (whether this be a physical or digital journal...I often use my computer because I am always on it!) are relief, clarity, and a reduction in anxiety. Journaling helps to organize our mind and process our feelings in real time! Because of this, we are doing less of the subconscious processing that takes up lots of energy and keeps us up at night. Since we are sleeping better, we notice improvements in mood, cognition and even our immunity!

Some of my clients that have wanted to start journaling say they get stuck thinking; “I don't know what to write”, “Is this how you spell it?” “Is this long enough?” or “This is terrible writing!”.  This is a normal experience for everyone and an important part of the process! You are already becoming more aware of yourself ....AND your inner critic! 
Approaching these thoughts with curiosity can help identify where these internalized messages may be coming from. So many of our self-judgments and fears of being vulnerable and emotional come from the capitalistic and patriarchal society that we live in. So in this way, getting in touch with your thoughts and feelings through journaling can be a mini act of rebellion! (and there’s nothing we like more than rebelling against the patriarchy). 

This awareness can also help remind ourselves that it doesn't matter what it looks or sounds like. That is the whole point of journaling - to write freely without the worry of someone judging you...and at the end of the day, the only way to find out what to write is to start writing. The inner critic WILL come back (“heyyyy heyyyy its me again... just wanted to let you know you sound like a TOTAL whinerrrrrr!”). In these moments we can choose to re-focus and keep our pens moving. 

Another thing that helps me with journaling is using journal prompts! Journal prompts are thought provoking questions or challenges to help spark thought, evoke feeling, or inspire you to ask yourself questions you may not otherwise ask.

How am I feeling today?  If this feeling could speak, what would it say?

What beliefs do I currently hold that may be holding me back? Where did these beliefs come from?

What are 10 words to describe my strengths and why did I choose them?

If journaling interests you and you’d like to give it a try, we will be launching a journal prompt series this week as the first of our ‘Take Five’ Series on instagram!

The idea behind ‘Take Five’ is that we have the power to shift our mindset, centre ourselves and raise our vibration by taking five minutes to do “that thing” that gives us life, nourishes us and grounds us. Maybe journaling could be one of those things for you?

Join us at @peakresilienceontario or @peakresilience  


With love,

Katie 






Photo by fotografierende on Unsplash