For many, journaling is a cathartic tool that clears the mind and emotions and helps to process and heal trauma. Making it a routine part of your daily life has been proven to yield a plethora of health benefits, from managing stress, anxiety and depression to tracking your own personal habits and behaviors. Putting your thoughts and feelings down on paper on a daily basis can help you learn to identify personal triggers and negative inner dialect, thus nourishing your growth as an individual with each page you fill.
By regularly writing about your goals, fears and traumas over an extended period of time, the practice becomes an instinctive outlet and a tool through which you can regulate your own emotions and transform your life in multiple areas. Some studies have even shown journaling to be useful in memory care, as it aids in the process of memory reconstruction. The best part is that it doesn't really matter where you start; even if writing about your past doesn't come naturally right away, writing about your current environment or present goals can help you break negative cycles in your past, redefine your narrative and create a brighter future.
Here's a closer look at two journal prompts that are specifically useful for older adults with years of wisdom, experience and memories. Consider writing them on the cover or first page of your journal and revisiting these prompts frequently — at least once a month — in order to record your state of mind and personal satisfaction throughout the year and connect with yourself on a deeper level.
Whether journaling or not, this is a question everyone should ask themselves frequently. Consider it a personal inventory through which you can keep tabs on yourself and your environment at the same time. Answering this question to yourself gives you an opportunity to look both outwards to evaluate your surroundings and inwards to determine how those surroundings are affecting your physical, mental, emotional and even spiritual state.
That said, the question "How I do feel about my life right now?" is perhaps the best place to start, especially if you're new to journaling and don't quite know where to begin. Challenge yourself to fill a singular page with your answer, from top to bottom. Take your time and, above all, be completely honest and sincere with yourself. Detail where you live, how you feel there, what you've been focused on or thinking a lot about recently, any obstacles or difficulties you may be facing and any sources of excitement and goodness in your life.
When you're finished, look back over what you've written — as well as past entries — to get a glimpse into the context of your life. Notice what's most important to you right now. Has that changed from a month ago? Three months ago? Six? Are there any patterns you can identify in your thoughts and behaviors? If so, are they positive or negative? Take some time to check in with yourself and, if necessary, reorganize your priorities.
This prompt is a great follow-up question to the first, as it can help extend your vision of yourself and your life even further based on the insight gained from your first answer. While journaling about how your life feels currently can help you keep an inventory of how your surroundings are affecting your inner life, writing about your goals for this year will help you keep track of how your expectations of yourself are affecting you. Sometimes, you may not realize just how thinly spread you are until you put it all down on paper!
The length of your answer will vary upon your personal circumstances and mindset; you may be able to answer thoroughly and accurately in a mere two sentences, or you might fill multiple pages. Either is completely acceptable — let yourself speak as passionately or resolutely as you please. Let the emotions attached to each individual goal flow freely from you to the page, and don't hold yourself back.
When you feel you've said everything you'd like to say, look back again over what you've written. However, put on a new pair of lenses before you do so; try to approach your entry from an objective, third-person perspective. Imagine it isn't you who wrote this but a close friend or family member you hold dear, and read it as such. Show yourself the same compassion, understanding and concern that you would them.
Analyze which goals are most important to you, how they have impacted or will impact your life this year and, perhaps most importantly, why you're emphasizing those particular goals over others in your mind. What are your motives and reasons behind those specific goals? Are they healthy and nurturing of your personal satisfaction? Or are they unrealistic and detrimental to your inner dialogue with yourself? Would you like to start doing more than you currently are? Or does it seem like you may be spreading yourself thin? Are you prioritizing anything you shouldn't be?
These prompts are simple tools to help you learn about yourself more deeply and routinely assess your personal peace and contentedness with your life, as well as your ambitions, fears and hopes. At Grand Villa in Colorado, we support the personal growth, creative expression and happiness of our residents by encouraging them to make time for self-evaluation; above all, we want to make an environment that's nurturing of their joy and content.