CLEAR­ING THE MIND

Jour­nal­ing can be a pos­i­tive out­let in daily life. Here are some cre­ative ways to keep a jour­nal

The Reporter (Lansdale, PA) - - FIT FRIDAY - By Molly Sprayregen

W het­her you’re look­ing to re­lease pent-up emo­tions, mo­ti­vate your­self or sim­ply clear your mind, keep­ing a jour­nal can be great for your men­tal health.

“We dis­cover things about our­selves that are hid­den,” says Jamie Ri­dler, a cre­ative liv­ing coach and founder of the on­line Jamie Ri­dler Stu­dios . She says jour­nal­ing is “great prac­tice for show­ing us some­thing beyond what we think we know.”

Your jour­nal should be a place where you feel com­pletely free to ex­per­i­ment and have fun.

But how do you get started? What do you say? Some tech­niques to help get those cre­ative juices flow­ing:

CRE­ATE AN ART JOUR­NAL

There are no rules for art jour­nal­ing, but it gen­er­ally in­volves a com­bi­na­tion of words and im­ages.

“Im­ages al­low us to tap into dif­fer­ent parts of us,” says Amy Mar­i­cle, an artist, art ther­a­pist and founder of the on­line jour­nal­ing hub Mind­ful Art Stu­dio . “With lan­guage we’re re­ally good at cen­sor­ing and con­trol­ling and pre­sent­ing what we think and feel .. Through vis­ual means we don’t have the same kind of cen­sor­ship and fil­ters.”

Art jour­nal­ing doesn’t re­quire ad­vanced skills. Even paint­ing mess­ily all over the page can be cleans­ing, Mar­i­cle says. She en­joys tak­ing one or two colors and merely spread­ing paint all over a page. “It’s like tak­ing a walk in na­ture,” she says. “It helps open me up.”

An­other ex­er­cise she sug­gests: Write out what you’re feel­ing, and then, in light pen­cil, un­der­line words or phrases that stand out to you. Us­ing paint, cover any of the writ­ing you didn’t un­der­line. Now you’ve cre­ated an orig­i­nal poem.

Ri­dler says you can also start an art jour­nal by se­lect­ing an im­age from a magazine that catches your eye. Glue it into your jour­nal and write about why you picked it.

She also sug­gests a style of jour­nal­ing known as Fuaxbonichi — di­vid­ing a page into many sec­tions and filling it with words and draw­ings.

Mar­i­cle and Ri­dler both urge jour­nal keep­ers not to worry about the fi­nal prod­uct. No one else needs to see it, af­ter all.

“When you are in your jour­nal, you are in a process,” says Ri­dler. “Let your­self be messy. Let your­self find your way.”

MAKE LISTS

Sharie Stines, a ther­a­pist and coach for those suf­fer­ing from ad­dic­tion and/or abu­sive re­la­tion­ships, sug­gests keep­ing grat­i­tude lists, and lists of your strengths and goals. She also rec­om­mends writ­ing out self-af­firm­ing dec­la­ra­tions such as “I am enough” and “I can do this.”

The ul­ti­mate form of list-mak­ing may be the Bul­let Jour­nal, in­vented by Ry­der Car­roll. It in­volves track­ing your life in bul­let points. Car­roll says do­ing that helps us re­main or­ga­nized, and gain aware­ness of how we spend our time and en­ergy.

“It’s not only about what we need to do,” he says. “It’s also about un­der­stand­ing and ques­tion­ing the things that de­mand our at­ten­tion.”

There are three main cat­e­gories of bul­lets in a Bul­let Jour­nal: tasks, events and notes. Car­roll ex­plains, how­ever, that the Bul­let Jour­nal is “in­fin­itely cus­tom­iz­a­ble,” and can also in­volve sketches, color and other vis­ual el­e­ments.

Keep­ing a Bul­let Jour­nal by hand is key to its ef­fec­tive­ness, he says: “Stud­ies sug­gest that ana­log jour­nal­ing of any kind has many ben­e­fits, rang­ing from treat­ing anx­i­ety to in­creas­ing mem­ory re­ten­tion.” For more in­for­ma­tion, see the tu­to­ri­als on bul­letjour­nal.com .

TRY EX­PRES­SIVE WRIT­ING

So­cial psy­chol­o­gist Dr. James Pen­nebaker was a pi­o­neer in us­ing ex­pres­sive writ­ing to help peo­ple deal with problems. He ex­plains: “You set aside three or four days and write for maybe 15 or 20 min­utes each day, and ide­ally about some topic that is gnaw­ing at you, that is get­ting in the way of your life.”

Writ­ing, he says, re­quires us to stop push­ing the is­sue aside. It ac­knowl­edges how we feel and helps us “place some kind of or­ga­ni­za­tion and struc­ture to it.”

Pen­nebaker em­pha­sizes that ex­pres­sive writ­ing isn’t for ev­ery­one all the time, and may not be ben­e­fi­cial im­me­di­ately af­ter an up­heaval. Trust your gut, he says.

“If you ab­so­lutely don’t feel as though you are ready to write, don’t write,” he says. “Your brain is telling you some­thing.”

WRITE LET­TERS

Ad­dress­ing jour­nal en­tries to a per­son in your life can help re­lease bot­tled-up feel­ings. Stines reg­u­larly uti­lizes this tech­nique with her clients.

“It’s not for the other per­son,” she says. “It’s only for the writer . The other per­son may never know you had a prob­lem. They don’t even have to know, be­cause you’re giv­ing voice to your­self.”

JAMIE RI­DLER — JAMIE RI­DLER STU­DIOS VIA AP

A Fauxbonichi style jour­nal on a desk with jour­nal­ing sup­plies

JAMIE RI­DLER — JAMIE RI­DLER STU­DIOS VIA AP

This photo pro­vided by Jamie Ri­dler Stu­dios, in Toronto, On­tario, shows a col­or­ful pile of full-to-burst­ing col­lage jour­nals.

JAMIE RI­DLER — JAMIE RI­DLER STU­DIOS VIA AP

A mixed me­dia art jour­nal on a cre­ative desk.

AMY MAR­I­CLE — MIND­FUL ART STU­DIO VIA AP

A jour­nal en­try called “Plan­e­tary Shift,” made with acrylic paint, gel pen and mixed me­dia pa­per on a 3.5 x 5.5 inch jour­nal page.

AMY MAR­I­CLE — MIND­FUL ART STU­DIO VIA AP

A jour­nal en­try called “Por­tals,” with acrylic paint and mixed me­dia pa­per on a 3.5 x 5.5 inch jour­nal page.

AMY MAR­I­CLE — MIND­FUL ART STU­DIO VIA AP

The jour­nal en­try called “Blos­som,” made with gel pen on a 5.5 x 12 inch jour­nal page.

AMY MAR­I­CLE — MIND­FUL ART STU­DIO VIA AP

A jour­nal en­try called “Ef­fer­ves­cent,” made with gel pen on a 3.5 x 5.5 inch jour­nal page.

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