I’ve always had a funny relationship with journaling. I’ve heard about the power that it has and the changes it can bring to a person from some of the most successful people around. Oprah, Jen Sincero, Brene Brown, all of these successful women that I look up to consistently talk about writing things down and getting our thoughts down on the paper. In fact, if you pick up any kind of self-help book or listen to any kind of motivational talk then writing down your thoughts or ‘journaling’ will come up in there somewhere. I’ve visited the concept a few times but never really felt like it had much value or brought much change into my life.
Until I really thought about the concept of journaling and what it was. It was then that it had the ability to change my life. Let me explain…
I feel like journaling has developed into quite the buzz-word over the last few years. As more and more people begin to work on themselves and take to the internet for the advice of others, journaling is almost always amongst some of the answers. But it wasn’t until I really sat down and thought about ‘journaling’ for what it really was that I realised it’s been around forever and I’d been practising it way before it became what it is today.
How many of you reading this used to write a little something called ‘Dear Diary’ in your teenage years? I know I did! I religiously kept a diary of my thoughts and albeit my latest crush usually took up the majority of the pages (oh to be 14 again)! But what I realised is that I used to use this method of writing down my thoughts every day when I had merely reached adolescence yet as an adult I seem to have a damn hard time doing so.
It was after this realisation that I understood just how easy this concept of ‘journaling’ really is and decided to give it a real go. I’ve dabbled in it over the years but never really stuck to it. I found myself following blog post after blog post writing answers to prompts that other people had found helpful. Whilst I now use some prompts I find the power of writing down my thoughts freely as they come so much more empowering and insightful. I’ve actually started addressing my journal as ‘Dear Diary’ once again.
Sometimes as adults we think way too much. Less thinking more action was exactly what I needed to implement in this case.
After a few weeks, I found myself writing down whatever came to mind every morning and honestly it’s had such a positive impact on my mindset and mental health. For me getting my thoughts out on paper is like a physical release for those thoughts and letting them all go. It’s like I’ve extracted them from my brain, dealt with them and either moved on or left them on the paper for another day. It really helps.
When I started to struggle in my nursing career with my mindset I started to write down my thoughts and feelings more and more but at first, it didn’t go so well…
Journaling as a Nurse – How Not to Do It!
When I first started writing down my thoughts about work my journal ended up looking a little bit like this:
- Today another nurse was rude to me
- Today I made a drug error
- Today I felt like I knew nothing
- Today I didn’t manage my time well
- Today I didn’t stand up for myself
- Today I didn’t have time to change my patient’s bedding
- Today I didn’t have enough time to talk to my patients
- Today a doctor made me feel like shit
Do you see the pattern?
My journal, or whatever you want to call it, became a complete self-loathing playground. And let’s face it, in any work environment, it’s so often our downfalls that are addressed more than our achievements.
How many of you get that sinking feeling when you see that work is calling your phone after you’ve left? Or when you get called into the office or when you get that dreaded email from your manager asking to make an appointment? As humans and because of how society has conditioned us to think about ourselves we are constantly thinking the worse more often than not.
This is when I decided to completely change the way I was journaling in order to help alter my thinking and create a more positive mindset and life for myself. Because let’s face it, no-one was about to come up to and tell me all the things I did well that day, people are far too busy for that, but I can tell myself. I have the power to acknowledge all of the things I did well instead of all the things I didn’t do well.
So that’s what I started focusing on from a nursing perspective and boy what a difference it has made in my quest to take more responsibility for my own happiness and joy.
In just a matter of days my journal went from being the negative space you see above to something a little more like this:
- Today I did the best that I could
- Today I gave my patients 110%
- Today I made my patient smile
- Today I completed every necessary task
- Today I sited my first catheter without supervision
- Today I challenged the rude nurse
- Today I made sure I took my break to recharge
- Today I asked questions when I was unsure
Do you see the difference now?
By focusing on what went well in the day makes such a difference to how I end my shift as a nurse. Of course, doing this isn’t easy so I created some prompts to get me really thinking about the positive things that happened during my 12 hours at work.
If you’re a nurse and feel anxious, feel under-confident or lack self-esteem at work then I highly recommend giving this a go. Here are some prompts you can start off with to get you going.
End of Shift Journal Prompts
- What went well today?
- What did you do today that you are proud of?
- What did you learn today? (in nursing there is something new to learn every single shift)
- What didn’t go so well today?
- What can you learn from it?
These five questions are super simple and easy to ask yourself and write down after a long shift. The first three are the most important questions to focus on but note that I do think it’s important to reflect on what didn’t go well too.
It’s important to recognise what could’ve gone better but it’s even more important to acknowledge what you learnt from that situation so you can do it better next time!
Now It’s Your Turn
I challenge you to make a little bit of time when you get home to reflect on your shift. It only has to be 10 minutes but if you make this a habit after every shift you’ll find yourself noticing the things you do well during your shift.
I can almost guarantee that this practice will help you become a more positive nurse and human being in the long run! And if you’re not a nurse then this simple practice applies in any career!
If you really want to dig a little deeper then there are plenty of resources out there to help you on your journaling journey. Morning Pages is a great concept where you write freely about your thoughts each morning, exactly like I was talking about above but I didn’t come across Morning Pages by The Artists Way until recently – take a look here!
I hope you found this post insightful! If you did I would love it if you could share it with someone who might need it! Do you journal? Let me know in the comments below as I would love to hear your thoughts!