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Journaling your Way to Health

by Jennifer Carson ASEBP | October 6 2016 | 3 Comments

I couldn’t begin to tell you how long I’ve lived in a world of stickie notes. Suffice it to say that it’s been a while. I really liked those notes. They held the lists of my life—groceries, reminders, goals, to-dos—the things that move us from one moment to the next. So the first time my stepdaughter Jessie talked to me about saying goodbye to the stickies and hello to a journal I thought, “Well, um…I’m so happy this works for YOU.”

But I came around, and Jessie’s enthusiasm for journaling finally rubbed off on me recently on a chilly fall afternoon. I’m not sure if it was my lovely new ASEBP Health and Wellness Planner staring at me or I had a Jerry Maguire-esque epiphany (mission statement to follow), but I poured myself a cup of tea, found a sunny corner, snuggled into my favourite chair and began to journal.

Before I knew it, the island of stickies (literally, lined up on one side of my kitchen island) was no more. I had managed to capture all those different aspects of my life into one beautiful place. It felt like a gift, and I’d made a change—a pretty big one if you think about it—and that was a great place to begin.

My Journaling Pro Tips

So now that I’m an expert journaling whiz (cough, cough), I thought I’d share with you a few pro tips. Seriously though, I think we learn the most when we’re embarking on something new, and I’ve loved being on this journaling learning curve—I hope you will as well!

  1. Begin at the beginning. Goal setting is important for all of our endeavours, and no less so when it’s personal. I started my journal with some health, personal and career goals I’d hoped to achieve, which was the springboard to help me work out exactly what I wanted to record in the journal.
  2. Create your own legend. I like to use different coloured pens and symbols to indicate different achievements (a heart if I made a healthy food choice that day or water drop if I swapped out my morning coffee with water—gasp!). It’s SO incredible to see all my little accomplishments for the week.
  3. Don’t sweat the setbacks. So you’ve had a tough day and you didn’t achieve all the amazing things you thought you would—be kind to yourself. Just look at the previous day or week to remind yourself of all your accomplishments and remember that tomorrow is a new day and a new opportunity.
  4. Sharing is caring. While journaling might seem like a solitary endeavour, talking about my journaling experiences and hearing about other’s tips for capturing their daily successes and goals has been incredibly rewarding. Try forming a monthly journaling group that connects to share successes and ideas—the possibilities are limitless!
  5. Treat yourself. Journaling should be a calming and rewarding experience—good for both the body and soul. Find your favourite, most inspiring spot, let your mind wander and watch your dreams transform into realities.

Thank you to Jessie for planting the journaling seed and letting me discover my own approach. Do you have a journaling success story to share? Have ideas for how journaling might work as a wellness initiative in your school or jurisdiction? Tell me about it in the comments below—I’d love to hear from you!

Jennifer Carson

As former CEO of the Alberta School Employee Benefit Plan and the inspired driver behind The Sandbox, Jennifer truly grasps the many benefits of school employee health promotion in the workplace. Her talents are far-reaching and include writing her name legibly backwards while using her left hand and being terrified of bats.

Shandy R. ASEBP | October 7 2016 9:08 AM

Thank you for sharing Jennifer. I've been a 'stop-and'start' journaller (is that a thing?) for many years - and am feeling inspired to pick it back up again after reading your story.

Landra W. APPLE Schools | October 18 2016 8:42 AM

I'm a stickie note lover at work and home but I've slowly started transitioning to a journal. I feel like I'm making progress because at this point all my stickies are contained in the journal. Now I need to take the next step and eliminate the stickies altogether. Great "pro-tips"!

rachel Q. St. Paul ERD No. 1 | November 1 2016 10:18 AM
Jennifer, Thank you so much this is exactly the information that I needed today.  I will definatly start journalling.  A question though Do you purchase a journal daytimer or do you just use a inspirational book?   Thanks RQ