The Benefits of Journaling in the Outdoors

Jordan Carr15 Dec, 2022

Self-care doesn’t have to pause while you are on an Adventure Treks trip (#treatyoself). Some of the regular practices that we keep in our daily lives can carry us through tough days on trail so we have the energy and mental fortitude to be our best outdoor adventuring selves. I am a big cheerleader of writing in a journal. This is something that I do before bed every night, and I have found many benefits from extending this habit into my Adventure Treks trips as well.

What are some of the benefits of journaling?

There are so many!

How do you journal?

I remember getting stuck on this seemingly simple question at the beginning of my journaling days. I had a few close friends who I considered to be journaling experts, and I asked them this question, wanting to be sure I was also on track to expert level. But, of course, there is no right or wrong way to journal. The art or practice of recording things on the written page can be customized to be of ultimate value to the individual.

Journaling can be about processing your day, setting intentions for the day ahead, tracking your thoughts and emotions to look for patterns—or whatever else you want it to be. What works for you? If you want to write in your journal every day, that is awesome! However, if this does not fit into your schedule, then this goal is probably going to stress you out more than be beneficial to your overall well-being.

What I have learned: Set realistic goals for yourself and be open to the creativity and flow of each entry. Even on days when I thought I had nothing to say, I have been able to find some interesting insights to reflect on.

Where do I start?

A blank white page can be intimidating. I know this on a personal level; every time I start a new writing project (like this blog), it seems like I suddenly have the energy and focus to do anything but write. But never fear! I have compiled a few tips and tricks to help you embark on your journaling journey.

Keep it simple: When I started out, I bought a small 3.5” x 5.5” journal. A smaller page is less overwhelming to fill. I began with bullet journaling (i.e., quick, short line entries), and often go back to this method when I don’t have a lot of time but still want to capture memories or thoughts while they’re fresh.

Utilize prompts: You can create a “cheat sheet” of prompts at the front of your journal. The ideas can set creative boundaries for those times when you can’t decide where to even begin. Below are a few of my favorite prompts that help me process my thoughts.

  • What are you grateful for today?
  • What emotions came up for you in unexpected places today?
  • Describe something you experienced for the first time recently.
  • How did you challenge yourself today, and how do you plan to challenge yourself tomorrow?
  • How did you show up for yourself today, and how do you plan to show up for yourself tomorrow?
  • What are three new things you learned this week?

Create space: Like any new activity, journaling can easily integrate into your daily life if you set yourself up for success (that is, make it a habit). I like to spend 10 to 15 minutes in my tent jotting down thoughts from that day before I fall asleep. I find this is the easiest time for me to journal, and therefore has the highest likelihood that it will actually happen.

Make the experience comfortable with a cup of tea, wrap up in your sleeping bag, or find something soft to sit on. You can also ask yourself these questions to help you figure out your plan of action. “Do I process my thoughts better when I wake up or before I go to sleep? Do I need to be alone or can I do this in the company of others? How much time do I need for each entry? What would block my ability to journal and how can I prevent those barriers from getting in the way?”

Add the “WOW!”

At Adventure Treks, we love adding the “wow” to everything and anything. Wow is the special magic added to events that would otherwise be just everyday activities (this is one reason you’ll see us wearing silly flair at Costco). Journals can also have the AT wow factor. Try adding stickers to the cover of your journal from the locations of your AT trips. Or take scenic photos of all your journal spots during the trip. Wow, like journaling, is all about creativity, so make it personal to you!


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