5 Ways Journaling And Mindfulness Changed My Life

+ FREE Journal Prompts Ebook

Maya Lombarts

Journaling has been my self-therapy ever since I was 12.

I don’t know about you, but I am better with words in writing than in speaking. Those videos and podcast episodes? I have to truly push myself to get on camera and get the words out.

Something magical happens in the brain when you journal:

  • Suddenly, you’re able to take a bigger perspective on life and see things more clearly.
  • You can get those thoughts and feelings out of your head and onto paper, which makes you feel more light after every journaling session.
  • As you’re writing, your brain takes you further and further to deeper reflections you wouldn’t have thought about if you were just ‘sitting with it’.
  • Journaling is a Mindfulness practice. You learn how to pause the turmoil of life and take a moment to observe what’s going on in your inner world.

My journaling practice has evolved over time. I don’t always write about every single thing that’s happening in my life. I used to do that, but now I see it as a tool that goes way deeper than my daily events.

If you prefer listening instead of reading, check out this new podcast episode:

Also available on Apple Podcasts or in your browser on Anchor.fm

Or watch me on YouTube right here:

I see journaling as a way to process big changes and challenges in my life

As your life evolves, your journaling practice evolves with you. There is no need to put pressure on your journaling habit: “I haven’t journaled in a month! I’m totally off track!” … There is no ‘off track’. There is only this beautiful tool that is sitting there, ready to support you whenever you need it.

This is my story of how journaling has evolved with me through the years. I hope it inspires you to flow with your journaling habit, too.

1. Journaling Before Bed

When I was 12, I got a journal as a birthday gift. It had a tiny lock and a cover image of my favorite Teen Band. It felt like my secret way to talk about everyone and everything, knowing that nobody would read it.

The only way I thought journaling worked was to sit and write about your day every night before going to bed. At least, that’s what you see in the movies, right? “Dear diary, I have a crush on this boy, but I don’t know if he loves me back. I had pizza for dinner and I had a fight with my brother. Good night.”

When you're a teenager, every day is an adventure. Every conversation with a boy is a movie on repeat. Every setback is a disaster.

Journaling helped me process my feelings, my thoughts, my experiences.

I literally couldn’t sleep well without journaling first. I felt this relief after putting my thoughts and feelings onto paper. I felt like my head was empty, and ready for peaceful sleep.

2. Living Mindfully Through Chronic Disease

When I was 15, chronic disease turned my life upside down. I couldn’t go to school, I was walking with a cane, I got used to feeling high amounts of pain every day, and I couldn’t live a normal teenage life from my 15 to 19.

I remember my singing teacher gave me a book I didn’t realize was quite the classic: The Power Of Now by Eckhart Tolle.

It opened these big bright doors to mindfulness and self-help books.

Doctors didn’t know what to do with me. They said: “You just have a small energy bucket and you’ll need to learn how to live with that. There is nothing you can do about chronic disease.”

I’m proving them wrong in every way today, but back then I only had a nagging feeling of “This can’t be it.” I didn’t know where to go for help, so I dove into everything I could find about mindfulness, positive psychology and healthy living.

The only remedies I had at the time was:

  • Living in the now
  • Being grateful for the little things in life

These two principles literally saved my life. As I was fighting against my body’s limits, I had to learn how to love myself fully and become my own best friend.

I used body scan meditations (You can download my free body scan meditation right here and test it out) to check in with my body and truly listen to my new limits, instead of pushing through (which used to be my default).

Journaling and meditation pulled me out of a dark place at a young age.

3. Journal Prompts

If you’re not familiar with journal prompts yet, these are questions for self-reflection that you can use to get your journaling juices flowing. I love using prompts, because they might have topics I hadn’t even thought about and they take me to places in my mind that seem new and refreshing.

My way into journal prompts were self-help books or workbooks.

Every time I read a new self-help book, I would journal after every chapter to reflect on what this topic means to me, which place it has currently in my life, and what I can improve for myself.

I still love using journal prompts whenever I need inspiration.

One of my favorite topics to journal about is overwhelm. Whenever I feel my life is just getting too busy and I need to regroup. I plan a moment for myself without distractions to zoom out of my busy life and re-organize everything, making sure my daily activities are still aligned to my bigger goals. You can do the same!

FREE Journal Prompts Ebook

Download these journal prompts to zoom out of your busy life and feel more calm and aligned again.

Let's do this!

4. Journaling in nature

As many of you know, I moved to Cusco, Peru when I was 21. And it wasn’t easy.

I am a Taurus, and I don’t like change. Or at least, I used to not like change. Peru is a culture that truly lives in the now and embraces the changes of life. After 7 years, I have truly trained my flexibility, my patience, and my spontaneity.

The first months were the hardest. There was this place in nature, a huge rock called Sapantiana, that would call me at least once a week. I just HAD TO go there and journal.

I truly needed this moment for myself. I would journal about anything that came up (we call this a Stream of Consciousness), cry my eyes out, and let it all go. Breathing in the fresh mountain air, watching out over the city while journaling, really helped me get a bigger perspective on my life and lower my anxiety levels.

Little did I know the name Sapantiana actually means “sitting by yourself” in Quechua and this place is a Waqa, which were energetically loaded places in nature where the Incas believed Mother Earth can soak up your negative energy. And oh, how I cried.

5. Guided Journaling Sessions

My most recent discovery of how you can journal is by far my most favorite one.

Even more powerful than journaling by yourself is journaling in community.

I joined a guided journaling session a couple of years ago. It was magic. When you’re journaling with others and you share your reflections, you create this group consciousness. It’s not only about you anymore. Whatever someone shares in the group, gets picked up by your own mind and soul, and it takes your own experiences even deeper.

When you journal by yourself, you can only go to a certain level. But when you journal in group, guided by a good coach, that’s where the magic lies.

6. My Secret 6th One

Actually, there is a Secret 6th One: I have a dark red notebook that I call my ‘rant journal’. The book Finding Your Own North Star inspired me to embrace the whole spectrum of emotions, including anger, and get a separate journal to unapologetically rant about my life and the people in it. I can swear, I can hate the world, I don’t need to filter any words. (This is the only journal I write in Dutch, so that nobody in Peru can read it ;)) 

I have about 22 journals filled with my life story.

I don’t journal every day anymore. I flow with my needs of the moment. 

Sometimes, I might just write it all out, and other times, I might pick a series of journal prompts and I let them take me where they want to take me.

I hope this inspired you to start your own journaling practice.

Big hug,


Maya

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About The Author

Maya Lombarts is the founder of Healthy High Achievers. When she’s not coaching her clients online, she's singing in bars and hotels in Cusco, Peru. More about Maya on the 'About' page.