The Self-Care Experiment – Week 1: The 5 Minute Journal

When was the last time you journaled?

Do you have to search back to your teenaged days, when you filled a padlocked diary with the angsty flare-ups and minutiae of high school life? Or maybe, like us, you pick up a fresh ‘Travel Journal’ notebook each time you exercise your wanderlust so you can record every exciting moment of your adventures.

If this is journaling, it’s just not practical for everyday life – and that’s exactly why most of us don’t do it.

But, considering how many experts wax poetic about the benefits of journaling as though it’s a self-care cure-all, we started wondering: had we been doing it wrong this whole time? So, we checked out a bunch of different options to find a better way.

Thick anthologies full of creativity-boosting exercises were ominous and too involved. Blank notebooks emblazoned with a pithy expression on the cover were too ambiguous. Scrolling Word documents lacked that brain-to-hand connection and felt too impersonal.

None of them felt right. We were starting to feel as picky as Goldilocks.

What we really needed was something focused, powerful, and easy to maintain. Something with just enough structure and guidance to get us started and keep us going.

Enter The Five Minute Journal.

We’re not sure where we first heard about it but it was definitely amongst our “work hard, play harder” friends. Even Tim Ferriss, king of effectiveness and productivity, loves it – and that was good enough for us.

As soon as we opened it up we knew there was something special about it.  So here are our six reasons why we love the Five Minute Journal:

First, the journal itself was designed using principles of positive psychology: “To focus on the good in your life, become more mindful, and live with intention.” YESSS! Perfect for our Self-Care Experiment.

Second, the introductory pages showed us exactly how to answer their five daily questions – with examples. Just enough direction to get us motivated. Nice!

Third, entries are split into a morning and evening routine. Say what? We’d never considered this approach before.

Fourth, we had options with our Five Minute Journal. Go analogue with the hardcover journal or go digital by downloading the app. When we craved more guidance, their “Journal Habits” email gave us a weekly boost of inspiration.

Fifth, they’re very specific about keeping the journal by our bed. The closer to your bed they say, the better you will be at maintaining the habit.

Finally, the Five Minute Journal was right on board with our promise to make every challenge in the Self-Care Experiment one week long. In fact, the first commitment was to make a deal with ourselves: What reward would we get if we wrote in our journal for five straight days? We chose a spa day with a friend. What would we do if we didn’t make it? We decided we’d buy coffee for five strangers at our favourite café.

How’d we do?

Even when we woke up groggy or we were running late for work, it was surprisingly easy to start the day with a few notes about what we were grateful for and what we were looking forward to that day. Despite it being right beside the bed, there were a few days when it wasn’t the very first thing we did, but we never let it slide.

Each night we flopped onto the bed with our journal, feeling just a little like we used to in high school, and recounted three amazing things that happened plus a couple of ways we could have improved the day.

We love how every daily entry starts with a thoughtful quote at the top, tuning up your gratitude dial for the day.

Each entry is just one page. Just five questions with three points to be made beneath each – the same specific direction every day. Funny that something so brief can become a ritual in such a short period of time, but it did.

If there was anything challenging about this type of journaling, it was the daily affirmation. Finding just the right words for an affirmation can be hard. We kept tinkered with it and still haven’t landed on a perfect description but that’s ok – the whole point is that you can keep rewriting your narrative until it’s just right.

We tried the app too. Super simple and with the same five daily prompts. The extra benefits? You can have the daily quote arrive as a notification, and even set morning and evening alerts so you don’t forget to write. Smart. The biggest difference for us is the ability to include photos from special moments in your day. Being super visual, we love that feature!

Ultimately, because we always have our phones, apps tend to lack a sense of urgency, making journaling a bit too easy to ‘get to it when we get to it.’ It could be perfect if you’re a commuter and need something to focus on while in transit, but the ‘time and place’ requirement of a physical book are our preference.

The result?

We can see why so many reviewers said that the Five Minute Journal is a gratitude game-changer. As they say: ‘where focus goes, energy flows.’ The more did the journal, the more good things we noticed happening each day. We even started making mental notes so we could remember to write them down!

Will we stick to it after this week?

A resounding YES! Using the Five Minute Journal is super fast and easy. Even one week in we feel happier and more focused on the positive, making it continually easier to adopt an ‘attitude of gratitude’ every day.

We think you’ll love this form of self-care too. Try the Five Minute Journal out for yourself, and let us know what you think!

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