The mental health benefits of future journaling

future journaling
Source: Free-Photos (via Pixabay)
Future journaling is a great resource for anyone who wants to actively work towards self improvement in their daily life as well as their mental health.

By Harriet Lowbridge | Head of Advice

Future Journaling will look different for everyone that tries it. The basic principle is to sit down and write a journal entry detailing how the next week, month, or year is going to happen for you. You could write about that big career step you’re going to take. Maybe you’ll achieve that big fitness goal you’ve been working towards? The fine details are up to you. All that matters is that the year you write about is one that you can look back on and be proud of.

Once you reach the date that you had originally written towards, you can look back with a sense of accomplishment. At this point I like to write a real journal entry to see which details I achieved and which worked out differently. If there were any you missed out, you can reflect on why they didn’t work out. At that point you are set up to attempt them again with a better perspective on how to realise those goals.

Future journaling provides an outlet for you to push positivity onto your future self. The key to finding success with future journaling is to find a style that suit you.

I first found future journaling in the classic post-breakup ‘recreating myself’ phase a couple of years ago, but it’s something that has stuck with me ever since. It allowed me an opportunity to reflect on the aspects of my life that I was unhappy with. I could then identify which of those aspects I had enough control over to fix. When December 31st arrived, I sat down and wrote a journal entry that described all of the changes that I planned to make and how they were going to impact my life.

For me, future journaling is something that I restart once a year. I treat myself to a fancy new journal (because that alone can brighten up your day). I begin with writing a journal entry of about three to five pages long that is dated December 31st of the upcoming year. One of the essential aspects that I’ve found is to keep positive. You set the tone for the rest of the year then. I begin by describing how I have changed and improved my life. The goals that I achieved. The new hobbies and skills that I have cultivated.

These can be big goals like those steps towards pursuing your career. They can also be simple goals, like you’ve noticed that you only watch reruns of old favourites on TV, so you want to watch fifty two new movies this year. Maybe you have always wanted to take up dancing? Maybe you need to call your mom more to let her know that you still think of her despite being away from home?

Another aspect of my future journaling revolves around miniature bucket lists as well. After my main journal entry, I enjoy creating check lists for my year. The first will be a bucket list for the year, with things like;

– Attend a festival

– Grow my own sunflowers

– Publish a book

– Save £500

– Try ten new foods

– Learn how to sew a skirt

– Try veganism for one month

All of these examples focus on positive improvements in your life. They shouldn’t be like new years resolutions where you have to lose weight, stop smoking, stop this and don’t do that. Instead it should focus around what you can do for yourself.

Next I will make mini goal lists to track what I’m doing. For example, I’ll have an empty check list to fill with the fifty two books I read that year. I’ll do another for new movies and TV shows. I might do another for new cities or countries I visit. You could do them for concerts and festivals. Maybe for new foods you’ve tried or new skills you’ve learned.

This, however, is just the style that works best for me. The style that suits you might orient itself more around your daily life than such long term aspirations.

The same template can apply but with shorter aspirations. You could track that big assignment and journal about how you worked so hard that you’re a week ahead in your work. You could journal about how well you impressed your date and are getting to see them next week.

Journaling has long been promoted as a great resource for mental health. It’s biggest benefit can be simply through regulating your emotions. It creates a platform for you to reflect on your life and prevent overwhelming feelings of stress and anxiety. It is a “way to get to know yourself, to take control of yourself and create your own world”.

Future journaling allows you to push positivity into your mind as well as providing a framework for what you need to get done and how to get there. You allow your mind to focus on the little wins in life. Even if your little win is making time to read a new book.

Taking time to reflect is essential to maintaining a health perspective on yourself. Future journaling, in my opinion, provides a positive, entertaining and encouraging outlet towards this. One I hope that could help many of you towards your own goals of self improvement.

Harriet Lowbridge Advice 

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