Quite often in life, those things which are most simple and obvious are also the most profound and difficult. Things like love and money. And journaling.

Taking the time to pause and reflect, to focus on yourself, and to express to yourself what you find couldn't be a more natural impulse. Most people, while hurtling pell-mell through existence, want to take a breather now and then.

But getting there, actually stopping other things in order to sit down with a journal, seems to be a mighty challenge. And then even if you manage to quiet your environment and pick up your pen, a thousand doubts can stymie getting the words on the page.

Here, then, are a few principles to keep in mind, to assuage your anxieties and open the way to journaling bliss.

1. Always journal the right way
Gasp. What's the right way, you wonder? Simple. There is only one right way to journal, and that’s your way. When, why, and how you do it is always your personal choice. Never let anyone tell you otherwise. Journaling the right way is journaling, whatever form it takes. Period.

2. And also journal in special ways
You may, however, experiment with journaling for certain definite purposes, and you may even do some guided journaling.

Journaling for the Health of It (TM), for example, is the pen and notebook type of journaling. There is something about the connection of your hand to the pen to the page that enables you to get into more of who you are. When using computers or other electronic devices, it's a different experience entirely.

You might try journaling a trip; or drawing your journal instead of writing it; or journaling at night if you usually write in the mornings. Change things up now and again, just for fun, and to remind yourself not to take your self too seriously.

3. Don't judge your journal by its cover
Think you have to have a beautiful moleskin or silk-bound volume to hold your journal? On the contrary, it's probably best to just grab a notebook that's been lying around, or one that you can pick up at the drug store. Nothing's more disappointing than buying a beautiful, expensive journal and then waiting for the absolutely perfect opportunity to use it. You’ll find yourself saying, "I bought this beautiful journal about 4 years ago and I have been meaning to get to it, but .… "

Leave the gilt-edged tomes to the museums. For journaling, simple and inexpensive is best.

4. Note changes in yourself
We love to see the results of our efforts, so as you establish your journaling practice, keep an eye out for signs. Within two to three weeks, you'll notice some change in yourself. You may walk a tad more lightly, smile a bit more readily.
Conversely, you may be sobered by this new perspective on your life. Whatever the small changes, you can document and discuss them in your journal.

5. The times when you least feel like journaling are the times when you need it most
When you find yourself feeling stressed, unproductive, or frustrated, do a big data dump with your journal. Ask it a question. Have a dialogue with it.
When you’re sluggish and the last thing in the world you feel like doing is journaling, that is a perfect opportunity to find out what’s really going on inside.

6. No one is grading your journal, so ignore your inner critics.
If writing itself is a concern for you, you may wish to practice the Ten-Minute Missive (inspired by Julia Cameron's 'Morning Pages'). Start with, "Today I feel…" and write in stream of consciousness for ten minutes.

You can barrel past your worries about writing by simply writing, full speed, completely ignoring the voice that says you can't do it.

7. Can't find the time to write? Ask your journal for advice
It's not easy to get into the habit of making time for yourself. Often, even five or ten minutes seems too much.

If you need help making time, use your journal to find the answer. Write the question, "How can I find the time to journal?" and do a page or Ten-Minute Missive, and you’ll come up with the answer.

We have the answers inside of ourselves. We think that we don’t, but we really do.

Author's Bio: 

By Mari L. McCarthy - Journal / Writing Therapist. Are you looking for more information on journaling and its therapeutic effects? Please visit http://www.CreateWriteNow.com. My trademarked program, Journaling for the Health of It! ™, helps my clients live healthier and happier lives. I recently published an interactive ebook, 53 Weekly Writing Retreats: How to Use Your Journal to Get Healthy Now.