Super simple journaling practices for when sh*t hits the fan.


They say write what you know.

I don’t have answers about the state of the world today, or what will happen next. I am far from an expert in politics or economic policy or policy of any kind, really.

But I do know something about how storytelling and writing can help us through difficult times.

These are three incredibly simple tools that I have found very useful when life gets hard and weird and out of sorts. In the past, I’ve used these to help manage my own depression and anxiety, but they’re also great for generally helping me feel creative and clear-headed.

They’re easy to do. You can spend as much or as little time on each one as you like. And you can do just one or all three at any time.

Grab a journal and give these a try!

  1. Word vomit

“Hello journal, welcome to my explosion of words.”

This exercise is about getting all the stuff in your head out, onto the page. Take a journal or notebook, turn to a blank page, and let ‘er rip. Don’t think too much — just write. Write what you feel. Let your anxieties, anger and assorted emotional bric a brac fill the page.

Usually, as I do this, I reach a point where I start to notice that my tone shifts. I look for the good in things, or what’s coming next. I start to think more positively and come away with some clarity and a better attitude. But it doesn’t have to be this way, so don’t force yourself to get there.

The main thing is to give yourself the space to just write. Get all the stuff that’s clogging up your brain down on the page. Simple but powerful.

(Note: if you’re really struggling, be conscious of how you feel when writing. There’s no pressure to push forward. If you feel really overwhelmed or anxious, try writing about a completely different topic, or just stop.)

2. Write your charter

This exercise is all about you. In your journal, write about how you want to do things, and what is important to you in your life.

Think: if you were to create a charter for you/your life, what would it be?

I love this exercise because it cultivates a sense of empowerment and sparks a bit of imagination. This technique has been profoundly useful in my own life; it’s make me feel happier and live more deliberately.

You can free-write on this topic, or answer these questions:

  • 5 of my core values are…

  • No matter what, I will…

  • My intentions for this time are to…

  • My top 3 priorities right now are…

  • A mantra I live by is…

3. Make lists

Grab your journal or notebook and make some lists about nice things.

Again, this is a super simple exercise but when I was struggling with depression and PTSD, making a list of things that made me happy (e.g. cats and peanut butter-chocolate ice cream) helped me see the bright spots in my life and remind me of who I was. It was grounding and uplifting. I still enjoy list making, especially if I feel a bit down in the dumps.

Here are some ideas:

  • What are some things you’re grateful for?

  • What are some things you love/enjoy?

  • What are some things you want to do/try, or some things you are excited for?

  • What are your favourite… (foods/movies/people/places etc.)

A gentle reminder

Remember, your stories — in any shape or form — matter. Your stories are important even when, and sometimes especially when, the only listener is you.

Camille DePutter