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Journal Your Way to Peace

Life in a military family can be a roller coaster of emotions. Here’s a practice that will help you find your center.

Journaling. Photo: Thinkstock.

Living with someone you love in the military can be filled with amazing highs and devastating lowsextremes that make for a roller coaster life. One way I’ve found to keep a foundation of peace is journaling. The practice has helped create quiet out of chaos by:

  • Giving me perspective that’s often lost in the heat of the moment.
  • Reminding me of the good times from previous entries.
  • Suggesting patterns and repetitions that I’ve missed in the immediacy of the situation.

If you’ve never journaled before, or you’d like to change it up a bit, here are some tips to get started:

1)  Pick a way to journal.
This can be just about anythingfrom your computer to paper in a loose-leaf notebook. Personally, I love to get a blank book that inspires me. I can find them almost anywhere from dollar stores to high-end gift shops.

There are also some pretty cool apps if you want to journal on your smart phone or tablet. Two of my favorites are Moleskine and Noteshelf.

2)  Find a regular time to journal to help make it a habit.
I’ve found that I prefer to journal in the evening. I use it as a time to reflect on my day. I’ve also had good experiences with journaling in the morning when I can record my plans, as well as insights from my morning Bible reading.

3)  Don’t try to share too much.
One thing that derailed my journaling efforts early on was trying to write too much. I was spending too much time on it and that made me dread trying to fit journaling into my busy schedule.

Now I give myself permission to write more if I feel the need. BUT I also remind myself that writing more one day doesn’t set a precedent or a goal to live up to.

4)  Always include blessings and things to be grateful about.
This is an important part of journaling. It’s easy, especially with a loved one in the military, to become overwhelmed by the struggles. At times, the stress is all we focus on.

By being intentional about looking for things to be grateful for, we can change that focus. AND those blessings are there to remind us of the good things in our lives when the tough times return.

5)  Don’t forget the pictures.
If you have an artistic bent, this one is easy. You can sketch in images or, if you’re like the rest of us, get creative in another way. For example, if something touches me during the day, I’ll snap a picture with my smart phone, print the picture and insert it into my journal.

If I’m using an app like those I mentioned above, I can import the image into the file of the specific day. Images are powerful and sometimes that’s all I need to record.

No matter how you structure and personalize it, keeping a journal can provide much-needed insight and peace. 

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