Cultivating a journaling habit has been proven to help deal with stressful times, boost creativity, and improve mental health in general. That said, some people just aren’t a fan of journaling—or, an individual’s appetite for journaling may change throughout their lives; perhaps as a child journaling came easy, but at some point during adulthood it gets put on the back burner, or vice versa.
If you find that journaling doesn’t come naturally to you anymore (or that it never has) but still want to find an activity that will allow you to improve your mindfulness, relieve stress, and track your personal growth, here are three alternatives to try on for size.
If you like to write but feel constrained by the linear structure of traditional journaling, then perhaps poetry is a form of expression better suited to your needs.
Poems often rely on symbolism that may hold a lot of private meaning for the writer but seem ambiguous to any other reader. This makes poetry a freeing exercise that can help you get to know yourself more intimately and are a great resource to look back on to gauge personal development and progress.
Social media often gets a bad rep for negatively affecting our mental health; however, it is still possible to harness the power of platforms like Instagram as a tool of self-expression. Fortunately, it is possible for posts and stories to be taken down from your profile so that none of your followers can see it (removing the factor of external affirmation) while storing them in archives that you can look back on privately.
Using this feature can help you create a digital scrapbook that adds a visual element that you feel might be missing from conventional journaling. Building an archive can be a simple, almost effortless way of collecting memories in real-time of art, fashion, food, and anything else that strikes a chord with you. It also records the mundane events of daily life that may seem boring and normal now, but a few years down the line offer you a picture of the reality you lived as an earlier version of yourself. Stories and posts often reflect positive events as well, while conventional journaling may be more appealing when something negative has happened in your life.
Look back on your archive to create a visual representation of your identity, remind yourself of the good times, give yourself a confidence boost, and jog your memories of a specific time and place in your history.
Photography is another great method of practicing self-reflection that incorporates a visual aspect that you may find that traditional journaling lacks. Capturing images of your day-to-day life can help you track how you perceive whatever subject you’ve placed in the frame, whether they are inanimate objects, people, or wonders of the natural world.