By Carol Bailey Floyd, Retired Advanced Level WRAP Facilitator and Former Director of Programs, Mental Health Recovery and WRAP

Over the years, I’ve become a collector of WRAP wellness tools. They’ve helped keep me afloat even during the most turbulent of times.

Some wellness tools are more effective than others. I call these power wellness tools and know they will help me regain balance. Some of my most powerful wellness tools are walking, talking, and writing in my journal. Of those, journaling is number one!

The style of journaling that I most often do is called “morning pages,” as discovered in The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron in 1992.

Morning pages are usually done first thing in the morning to clear out your brain and get ready for the day. They are written spontaneously without stopping to correct anything. It’s recommended they be done by hand, but I’ve been doing them on my laptop for many years.

Most people do three pages: the first page is usually “la di dah,” and in the next two pages, sometimes magic happens! In those pages I often have an insight, identify something to work on, or get an amazing idea.

There are many benefits to journaling—problem solving, encouragement, decision-making, identifying patterns to use with your counselor, planning fun things to do, developing intuition, comforting yourself, finding creative and fun ideas, slowing fast thinking, decreasing stress, energizing yourself, finding encouragement, and self-acceptance.

If you start journaling, you’ll probably find even more benefits. The biggest benefit for me is that if I free-write long enough about any problem, then pause and ask, “What are you going to do about this?” and then answer with all the wisdom of my life, I hit workable solutions. I have always been able to turn around any situation with question-and-answer journaling!

You can use a spiral notebook, notebook paper, or blank book, along with pens, markers, or colored pencils. If you want, create an environment for yourself with some beautiful music, a lit candle, a favorite chair, or even silence. It’s a good idea to try spontaneous journaling for at least two weeks so you can see the power of its rhythm in action.

Your journal is a sacred space. If you want to keep it really private, hide it, or give it to a friend for safekeeping. You can even discard each day’s writing. It is important to feel free to write anything you want.

If you have ideas for your journal, jot them down during the day and keep them handy for the next day’s writing. Then you have a head start on your morning journaling.

Also, writing when you least feel like it is when you might find the most power. I end my morning pages in gratitude, which is an excellent way to start my day. I also find that I get ideas for other projects I want to implement. My journal is available to me 24 hours a day and can be my best friend. Journaling on a regular basis can draw out wisdom in wondrous ways!

An important thing to realize about journaling is that you are the boss of it! If you want to do journaling in the evening, or at any time, that’s fine. The most important thing is to keep your journaling practice alive.

There are many kinds of journaling, all with their own benefits. A garden journal is a wonderful place to record things about your yard—shady and sunny areas, plants used each year and how they did, photographs of your garden, ideas for the next growing season, and hints and home remedies. My favorite thing is to water my yard and come inside and spontaneously write about my garden. A garden journal is so fun to read in the winter while I am planning my next year’s garden adventures.

Another kind of journal is a gratitude journal, which can be done in many ways. Some people write down five things they are grateful for at the end of each day. I sleep better when I end my day in gratitude. Incorporating gratitude lists into your daily journal is another way to boost your well-being. It’s great to reread these lists later on to remind me of my many blessings.

I also keep a separate blank book where I write down happy times and memories. It’s rewarding to look back and read this at any time, but especially if I am feeling low. It reminds me that good times did happen and happy memories will happen again.

There are all kinds of ways to journal and I appreciate all of them. The most important thing is that you journal and empower yourself with your own wisdom. Our empowerment is as far away as your pen and paper (or your computer). Thank you to my journals, my favorite power wellness tool!