When I was working my job in-office instead of from the desk in my cramped NYC apartment, I relied on my daily planner to keep my on track. It was filled with To-Do lists, reminders, meetings and appointments—and then, suddenly, it wasn’t. As pandemic precautions forced me to stay home, I found myself attending fewer fashion events and swapping weekly dinners with friends to virtual Zoom happy hours instead. With barely any plans, my planner was all but useless. So, I decided to switch to a wellness journal.
In addition to meetings and appointments, I always made sure to write down one thing I was thankful for in my already-packed planner. Making time to practice gratitude has always been important to me, so I made sure to write something every single day. Some days it was massive: a new job, a great date. Other times, it was smaller: a good hair day, a fun package in the mail. More often than not, it was less of a specific occurrence and more of a reminder of my year-round blessings: time with family, supportive friends, a career I’m passionate about.
Prior to March 2020, the gratitude section of my planner was squished down at the bottom of each day; then, when I stopped having plans and started spending 9-5 each day in the same desk chair, it became the only thing I bothered to write down. Little by little, with nothing new going on, I found myself running out of things to feel grateful for—I knew I was blessed, but the slowing of my fast-paced life left me feeling defeated and depressed.
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It was then that I decided to swap my daily planner for a wellness journal instead. A major fan of The Happy Planner, I opted for the Guided Wellness Journal, a thick navy binder with Create What You Love written across the cover in rainbow lettering (This version is sadly sold out, but the Guided Gratitude Journal is still in stock, and can be used in the exact same way. Same for the All The Feels version). I worried I might find it too cheesy to use, but I left it beside my bed with a pen at the ready, and every night I forced myself to use it, until it became something I couldn’t imagine not reaching for.
In my wellness journal, there are prompts that I have the option to choose or ignore. Today I Can Honor My Body By…, One Thing That Inspired Me Today, What Brings Me Joy, What Would I Like To Stop Worrying About, What Makes Me Feel Loved. You get the gist.
Some days, I go down the page and answer every single prompt. Other days, I use the journal more like my old planner, writing down everything I did for Future Me to look back on. On particularly emotional days, I write freely about my feelings. At the bottom of each page, there is a section to list the day’s Small Victories. This is where I expand on the things I’m grateful for.
Another thing I really like about this journal is that it’s undated, so you can pencil in the dates as you go. In the past, missing days or weeks in a planner has triggered my anxiety, but knowing I can take a day off if needed makes journaling feel like a welcome opportunity, not a stressful chore.
Some days, my journal is overflowing with thoughts, emotions, stressors or joyful moments. Other days, I write down a quick meeting, a fight with my sister, a walk through the neighborhood with my dog. Either way, writing things down keeps me grounded, and it makes me more positive, too. On a particularly bad day, forcing myself to find one little thing to list as a Small Victory is enough to make me to go bed thinking life isn’t so bad after all.
2020 has been a hard year for everyone. I know I’ve felt it, and I’ve been luckier than most. If you’re looking for a way to strengthen your positive mindset, practice gratitude or get in touch with your emotions in 2021, I can’t recommend a wellness journal enough. What your entries lack in consistency, they’ll make up for in comfort.