Laura Borland’s journaling practice resulted in her creation of a guided journaling program to help people overcome traumatic life events. Her journaling series, is Glum to Glad™: 40-Day Mind Transformations, is available on Amazon. Salonpas sat down with Laura to learn more about the art and form of journaling:
Has the pandemic altered journaling for you in any way?
During the initial months of the pandemic, I felt as if though my journaling was not as effective as it once was, and, frankly, boring. To revitalize it, I added a new method of journaling to my daily practice to bring balance to my gratitude writing. I do so by starting my nightly journaling with a paragraph praising myself for some thing I had done for someone else during the day. Then I write my five moments of gratitude.
How did journaling move you from ‘glum’ to ‘glad’?
Journaling allows you to catalog and document your mental and emotional states every day. So, in my case, I only focused on the positive experiences of my day when I had my nightly reflections. This includes any self-care practices (meditation, walks, etc.) I did for that day. At the end of each week, I would re-read my journal entries, and doing this provided me with invaluable insights regarding my progress and helped to identify trends in my behavior that required adjustments. Over time, I could easily identify my triggers and my joy accelerants, and pivot away from the “glum” to those moments of “glad”; thereby choosing positivity in challenges.
What’s the best way to start journaling for those who have never done it?
Journaling is really simple to integrate into your daily life as it only requires, at most, five minutes nightly, a notebook, a pen, and an open heart to reflect on your day. To begin, write five things that you felt appreciation for during your day, and most importantly, why. For example, an entry might look like, “I appreciate having a long chat with my parents earlier BECAUSE I am reminded how fortunate I am that they are still here.”
After writing your five appreciations or gratitude moments, end by writing your intention for how you want your day to go tomorrow. It looks like this: “Tomorrow, I want to be open to the opportunities around me.” Then go to bed. I promise you, you will feel amazing in the morning.
How can journaling help someone overcome traumatic events?
Journaling is powerful in its effects to help people overcome traumatic events because you cannot lie to yourself. In so many aspects of our lives, we wear so many faces: the way you are with your spouse, your children, your friends, or your colleagues, differs with each interaction. They’re only getting a “piece” of you, and they do not know the entirety of you. Journaling creates a safe space where you can really unleash the weight of your heart without judgment. Therefore it provides unnecessary outlet to offload your concerns to have the capacity to welcome healing and growth.
Can you share an example or two of people you helped via journaling overcome traumatic events?
My clients typically have one underlying thread, regardless of business or personal concerns, that makes them seek my services: that is being OVERWHELMED. When anyone is overwhelmed, they often feel stuck and unable to see the choices, tools, opportunities, and the help they need to move forward.
One of my very first clients was a young man, in his late 20s, who I saw regularly but I noticed that he had become more and more insular every time I saw him. I shared my observation with him and told him that he didn’t need to tell me what was happening, but I wanted him to try journaling for a week using my framework. We had an in-person meeting a week later, and he was lighter in his demeanor. He initiated the conversation by saying the writing helped him a lot as he was in a dark place. His wife had noticed that he was sleeping through the night, and that he was kinder to her (not as aggressive as before). He mentioned that he wrote so extensively that he had been through the range of emotions while journaling, but even through the worst of experiences, he felt better the next morning; he almost filled his journal in that week. We continued to work together for 5 more weeks and his improvement was remarkable.
Tell us about a typical day in your life, from when you arise to when you retire.
My typical day begins at 7 am with a 30-minute walk outside, not necessarily for exercise, but to enjoy nature. After walking, I do yoga for another 30 minutes, then I do a 15-minute meditation. I shower, eat, then plan my day. I spend 4 hours with clients and 1 hour learning something new. I prepare dinner and spend quality time with loved ones. About an hour before bedtime, I journal to unwind and get my mind relaxed for restful sleep.