Category: Personal Growth (Page 1 of 18)

Why You Should Start A Journal (And 31 Journal Prompts to Get You Started)

Writing in my journal has become one my favourite evening activities. In fact, it has become part of my night time ritual.  Each night, I write in my journal, before I settle in, I rate my day in my Passion Planner, and then, I read until it is time to sleep.  Today,  I want to share why you should start a journal, the benefits of keeping a journal and share 31 journal prompts to help get you going.

I remember the very first journal that I ever got.  I was nine years old and it was a parting gift from two friends who were returning to the USA. Their parents were missionaries and they had been in my class since grade three and they left Jamaica when we were in grade five. The journal was amazing, it had prompts that encouraged creativity and happy thoughts and areas to doodle and sketch. Somehow I managed to keep that little book until I was 12 years old.

And then, I began writing in a diary each day. It was one of those cute book with a little lock and key that did not actually work, it would not stay locked. Every evening, sometimes multiple times per day, I would share my thoughts, fears, dreams and worries in my diary. I would write every thought out and simply let it go. I wrote what I was afraid to say out loud.  I wrote what I dare not utter to anyone.

Throughout my teens and into my early 20s  I kept journals and notebooks.  Until into my early 20s when someone found my journals and read through them. That feeling was one of the worse moments.  I felt as if I was exposed and I felt violated.  I am sharing this story to pass on one simple nugget of personal wisdom.  Do not allow anyone to let you feel wronged by your private, intimate thoughts. Anyone who reads someone else’s journal or diary is in the wrong.  They are invading your privacy and if this person cannot see that is this is wrong, please evaluate your relationship with this individual. This may be a toxic person or a toxic relationship that you need to free yourself from.

This is the end my little soapbox moment. Let’s talk about journals and the wonderful benefits to keeping them.

So after almost a decade of keeping my thoughts, dreams and fears locked away in my head for safe keeping I am once again enjoying the calming sensation of writing in my journal.  And letting it all out on paper is amazing and freeing.

So Why Should You Start A Journal 

There are some proven benefits to keeping a journal to write out your thoughts and process your feelings. Trust me and Google the benefits of journal writing and read a few psychology articles on the science behind it all.  But here are my recommendations based on my experiences on why you should start a journal.

  1. It is a tool of mindfulness. When I kept a journal as a child, teen and young adult I was always very aware of what was happened in my life.  I was conscious of what I was thinking about because I would write all my preoccupations in detail. Mindfulness is a big buzz word right now and it one of the My Jamaican Vignettes themes for 2017 and one of my personal development and life goals. Writing out what is happening brings about positive awareness of what our thoughts are, where we are focusing our energies. And if for whatever reason our thoughts are trained on the “bad things” we can use our writing sessions to redirect our thoughts.
  2. Reduce stress and anxiety. Sometimes after writing down a problem, it becomes easier to work through the solutions. Also, your journal is supposed to be your safe place, so write it out. Share the frustrations, fears and anxieties and then purge it from your life.
  3. Create and manifest goals. I do not only write what happens on a day to day basic, my journal serves as my space to really become clear about my dreams and goals in life. I write about my plans, the little steps that I take to get closer to living my best life. I track my progress in my journal, notebook and my planner.
The Types of Journals To Consider 

 If you want to journal but you may not to certain where to start, there are many types of journals to choose from. Here are a few to consider:

  • Gratitude Journal 
  • Art Journal
  • Bullet Journal (also an organisation tool and planner system)
  • Food Journal (for meal tracking and fitness)
  • Travel Journal
  • Dream Journal
Journal Prompts 

Sometimes the hardest thing to do is to get started.  And for me getting started meant having some guidance.  After years of refusing to put pen to paper and write my thoughts I felt unsure of what to write and I found  that journal prompts were useful.

You may be ready  to free write in your new journal, here are 31 journal prompts to get you started.

Click to Download the Journal Prompts for the next 31 days


You can choose to buy a fancy notebook or a dedicated brand journal or even use a simple composition book.  Just start writing, thinking and letting it all out and the relief will come.

Also you may find these other resources helpful when setting up a new journal and the benefits of keeping a journal.


Did you journal or keep a diary as  child?  Do you have a journal now? Do you use journal prompts? Or do you free write? What do you consider as the main benefits of keeping a journal?

Please share your thoughts in the comments and discussions section. Let’s chat about the benefits of journals. Please share the journal prompts with family and friends, sometimes we just need a little nudge to get going.

Have a happy, joy-filled week.

7 Useful Tips for Meal Planning (And A Weekly Meal Planning Guide)

When attempting to maintain a healthy diet, staying in budget and cooking your own meals, a simple meal plan is your best friend. Meal planning takes the stress out of figuring out what to do next, what to eat, how to prepare your meals, and, it makes grocery shopping easy. Today, I will share 7-useful tips for  meal planning.

Before I talk about the 7 useful tips for meal planning, let’s be clear on what meal planning really entails. Meal planning is simply a way to organise what you cook. Some persons have advanced systems of meal planning that allows them to coordinate their family meals by the month. However, this post is focused on weekly planning, a simple way to organise what you will cook each day of the week from Sunday to Saturday.

To start, let’s try some simple and useful ways to plan our meals for each week. Meal planning is very personal and what works in my household may not be the best for another. Also, a small family of two persons may find that one method works best for them. Meanwhile, a larger family with parents, children and extended family members,  may need other forms of meal planning. With this in mind, consider these 7 useful tips for meal planning below and how they may help you and your family needs.

  1. Invite your partner, family, friends to help plan with you

    This is may seem very obvious, but it is important to get the support of your family and your partner when you do meal planning. The shift from deciding what you eat as you go along, to having a system in place to coordinate meals will have some take time to adjust to.  If you live alone, then fine, by all means go ahead and create your own uniquely tailored meal plan. If you are a parent, or in a relationship with a live-in partner, or, even if you share a house with a roommate, a great place to start meal planning is to consult with those closest to you.  Let your family and friends in and share your plans to start organising your meals  on a regular basis.

  2. Get Inspired 

    To start seriously planning your meals each week can seem daunting. It is a little challenging. It can feel weird,  sitting there with a little notebook  or a weekly meal planner, deciding what to eat that far along into to the future. But if you stick with it, it will be worth it. Promise. Now, some persons,  prepare the same main lunch or dinner meal for five out of the seven days of the week. For example, they decide that a simple pasta and veggie bowl will be the lunch item for the week. Therefore, this means that they plan and prep, cook and store, five pasta-veggie bowls and have those for their meals each day. I do not like this method. I will get bored.  My recommendation is to get inspired. Research fun and easy meal ideas, save new recipes to try. Create a recipe book, or a food journal where you can save recipes you have tried and enjoyed, and keep ideas for new recipes. Another great way to be inspired to meal plan is through Pinterest. I have two Pinterest food boards that I consult regularly and that I will continue to use. Right now my main food board is Vegetarian Food board, check out and see if there is anything you like and want to try.

  3. Remember the Little Things

    In meal planning it can be easy to focus on the main meals, our breakfast, lunch and dinner and forget about the other foods we eat on a daily basis. Especially if you are a budget (I am) and if you are keen on maintaining a healthy balanced diet, remember the little things. The little things include your snacks. It sucks and hurts when you plan for breakfast, and you know what is for lunch, but then, at around mid-morning your stomach starts growling and all you have is water. Add a healthy snack into your meal planning as well. Another important little thing in meal planning is your herbs and spices and the meal’s “supporting cast.” So for example, when cooking the three-bean stew, you know that the stars of the dish are the black beans, kidney beans and the chickpeas. But did you recall those two carrots and the tomatoes that are needed to make the beans shine? Always remember the little things, your snacks, your herbs and spices, your vegetables and the side dishes when you are doing your weekly meal plan.

  4. Create A Detailed Shopping List and Decide on a Grocery  Day

    After you have created a comprehensive meal plan for the week, review it. Did you add all that you really want to eat? Is there any way to tweak it so that the food prep can be easier? A useful meal planning tip is double up on key ingredients for a week. For example, last week, we made a curry chickpeas stew and chickpeas burger. So therefore, we used one key ingredient, prepped on the same day and made two distinct meals. It is another way to make things easier.  It is important to use your meal plan to create a shopping list for the week. Be as detailed as you need to be. Shop carefully. Do not buy things that you do not need. Stick to that shopping list.

  5. Prep Food As Soon As You Purchase Them

    An important step in any  meal planning system and organising is meal prep. As soon as you have purchased your food for the week, start your weekly prep.  You can choose to cook in whole, or in parts at the beginning of the week. Or you can divide your meal prep and cooking in parts as you see fit for the week. You may opt to cook twice per week, it all depends on your schedule and your family’s needs. For me, Sundays are great for meal prep and cooking. I have the time to organise the main lunches for the week and cook what I needs. Sunday is also a goo day to simply cut, chop, grate and store all that will be required throughout the week.

  6. Be Careful with Food Storage

    Another really important and useful meal planning tip is be careful and strategic with food storage. Most food items will likely need to be stored in the freezer. You will also need food storage containers that are airtight with secure lids for closure. Also, be sure to note food cook temperatures and research the best way to store and reheat foods to ensure great and safe dining experiences.

  7. Have Fun, Food Should Never Be Boring

    This is a big one, have fun with your meal planning. This is a process that should make your life easier. It really should not become tedious or a burden. Use meal planning as a way to make your food life fun. Consider researching new ways to prepare your old favourites, explore new spins on food pairings. Even try cuisines from other cultures. The possibilities are so big, and, you and your family can make your cooking days fun by having cook-outs and recipes competitions.


It takes time to get used to meal planning and so here is a bonus tip, take your time and be patient. If you have any other meal planning tips and tricks to add, please share in the comments below. I am learning as I go along and love to find new ways to refine my existing system.

I also created a meal plan printable template.  You can use this template to create your weekly meals, or,  it can serve as inspiration for you to create your own meal plan. Click on the image to download the weekly meal plan. Happy planning.

Have a fantastic week,

Chantel

 

Click to download the My Jamaica Vignettes Weekly Meal Plan Printable

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