People who thrive on hitting targets might crave less woolliness in their intentions. Enter the wellness journal. Molly’s advice was to note whatever made me feel happy, balanced and well, but at first the wellness journal was something of a frenemy, making me list my meals, physical activity, and set specific goals – like being hollered at by a lycra-encased ball of sinew in a PT session. That said, it did help record my sleep, self-care, and log “thoughts and feels”. A shortage of space for such outpourings, however, made the wellness journal the equivalent of a friend who asks how you are but suddenly remembers they left the iron on if you answer other than “Oh fine! You?”
Clearly my brain was so jammed with trivia, I needed more space to spill. Onto the bullet journal, an ocean of pages totally blank, save for guiding dots to keep handwriting straight – lined paper perhaps judged, rightfully I’d say, too reminiscent of school. Though I know they help others, I’d never fully subscribed to the idea of “morning pages” – the act of scribbling three pages of gobbledygook first thing like an emotional juice-cleanse – yet I found myself confessing long-harboured doubts and worries to those dotted pages. Unlike shared confidences, the journal can’t answer back, or interrupt with mindless minutiae of its own. Like most of us, I was burdened by living through history: my 30 days’ journalling began with a family funeral, standing graveside in chilling lateral gusts on the moors that inspired Wuthering Heights – the poetry of the moment crying out for the teenage goth I never was. As the days wore on, the world peeled through ugliness and trauma much as the moon slips seamlessly between phases: political scandal, war, cruelty, transphobia, TikTok. All this, plus my own daily emotional hokum: work worries, overloaded inboxes, and bills. Yet the 15 minutes or so spent terrorising my silent and patient journal didn’t feel like a duty; I was relieving myself of a burden, if only for an hour or two.
If you’re plagued by intrusive thoughts or negative spiralling, writing things down can help clear space in your head, and may shock you into realising how much time you’re wasting. After days repeating the same worries, comes a breaking point: I must fix this, or forget it. Expressing fears, rather than internalising them, helps shrink them somehow. Even after a huge trauma or bereavement, although there will still be dark days, Molly Park reckons regularly looking for things you appreciate can help. “Noticing what you’re grateful for can shift your mindset, changing your perspective on difficult days and making brilliant ones shine even brighter.”
Can you journal your way out of anxiety, or to better health? Looking at other writers – and in my own, smeared bathroom mirror – I wouldn’t make such a sweeping statement, but journalling gave me a little extra impetus to be up and at ‘em. Dark ink on a page unlocked a lightness of being. Give yourself 30 days to log the past, and make sense of the present, by writing your way into the future. Your pen may loop back and flick under as it forms the words, but it’s always heading in one direction: forward.