I keep a very slap-dash personal journal: although I dream of filling leather-bound volumes with my erudition and wisdom, mostly my journalling is a few lines here and there about what I’ve been up to, how I’m feeling or what I need to do next in life. I keep them together in their own Filofax at home, and carry a couple of pages dedicated to journalling around in my daily planner, so I can add to it whenever I like.
It’s definitely not for public consumption most of the time, but it’s nice to have a record somewhere to look back on and see what my life at a particular moment in time was like. I also tend to use my blogs (here, and my older, more personal blog, Angel Jem’s City Cottage) as a kind of diary. And then Facebook or Instagram act as even more memory keepers. I love the memory function on Facebook… except when it gets near to the sad times, like the anniversary of a death, or an event I’d far rather forget now,…. although all memories, good or bad are inevitably part of me and cannot ever totally be erased. We all carry our past with us, and none of us have the power to go back and change a thing. It’s how we use that past to power our future that matters.
And this blog, especially, functions in a similar way to journal keeping that is about more than just recording the mundane moments of life. You’re all very good, you keep reading my random thoughts and internal discussions. What does hygge mean to me? How do I plan to live more cosily this season? What’s on my ‘To Be’ list this year? I was having a nostalgic stroll through past posts last week, and was happy to find the list of books I wanted to read last year or the year before. It was great to have a record, and to look at it again and remember the fun I had reading them.
But even the best wordsmith sometimes falls short on inspiration, or feels the need to record life in a better, more organised way. That’s when I find journal prompts invaluable. Sometimes just the sentence sets me off and reminds me I have stuff to say, sometimes the question is one I really don’t want to answer (but feel compelled to because sometimes the reason why I don’t want to answer it is just the knowledge I need to explore) and sometimes the question and I just hit it off at once, and the resulting post/entry is a definite jewel. It doesn’t matter whichever. The power of a journal is in the process, not the product. A halting and half-complete entry is as valid to my self-development as one that is perfectly crafted, intricately phrased and illustrated with hand-tinted watercolour marginalia. But I digress.
Here, then, are some Autumn themed journal prompts. Use one, use them all. Take the ones you almost like and change them to suit you. See the ones that cause an instant recoil and do them first… whatever. Enjoy the processes: whether that is a five-minute list in a coffee shop as the rain pours down, or an hour of delicate storytelling after a lavender bath and sipping green tea. Morning pages or evening words, it really doesn’t matter as long as you find a value in the process either as ritual to soothe, or grit to inspire. (NB: I’ve used Autumn and Fall interchangeably here. Fall is the old English name for the season, after all, so it’s nice to reinstate it as a word for the Fall of Leaves)
The first section are about general Autumnal things: the books, films, sensations and external experiences of Fall.
- What does Autumn/Fall mean to you? Use all your senses to describe what the season makes you feel.
- What’s your best childhood Autumn memory? Try and capture it using all the senses: how did it sound, taste, look, smell?
- What are your favourite smells of Autumn? Smell is particularly nostalgic, so do these scents remind you of particular times or people in your life?
- Do the last prompt for sights, sounds, textures and tastes of Autumn as well.
- Do you have a favourite picture that captures the essence of Fall for you?
- Which book or scene in a book best encapsulates Autumn for you, and why?
- Is there a recipe or a taste or flavour that absolutely sums up Autumn for you?
- Make a list, or lists, of your favourite Fall movies, books and music. Is there a link between them all? (are they all country based, set in a particular area, or about a particular time of life?)
This second section is more about personal growth and Autumnal influences on your self-care rituals or inner self.
- How have you personally grown and changed since the start of the year? What do you think you’ll be harvesting this Fall?
- Spend a few minutes thinking what you want to achieve personally this season: how do you want to grow? Are there parts of life you need to release? Parts you need to lean into? What are your hopes and wants and what can you do to help them happen?
- Which rituals or routines centre or ground you most this season, and why?
- What is your favourite self-care action for Autumn mornings? How about Autumn afternoons? Last thing at night? Why do these actions or rituals work, do you think?
Practicality always has to play a part in our lives. This section’s questions are about how easy it is in Autumn to overlook the season itself as an appetiser for Christmas, and how not to do that.
- Autumn leads ultimately to Christmas and Winter: How do you keep focus in the present and not spend this season racing ahead to the next?
- How soon do you let Christmas in to your head? Do you find it useful to create a small space for Christmas planning or dreaming and then come back to the present day?
- Does the change in the season affect you? Do you get SAD? Do you have any other seasonal illness? What positive lifestyle changes could help you this season?
- An Autumn Cleaning of the house could help clear physical and mental clutter and leave you free to enjoy life more. What physical or mental clutter could you do with clearing?
- What’s your stress level like at this moment? What can you do to improve this?
Fall and Autumn have inspired many artists. Assuming that life is a canvas for you to paint your existence on, these prompts hope to get your creative juice flowing.
- Do you change your house decor for Autumn? What do you do? What do you like about it, or are there parts you’d like to change?
- Describe Autumn in a word? A sentence? A short paragraph? Can you make your words into a poem?
- Make a list of the small things about Fall that make you happy? How can you enjoy even more of these?
- If you could change one thing about Autumn, what would it be, and why?
- What are you most grateful for this season?
And with Halloween at the end of October, friends present and already passed come to mind. Some prompts about remembering our loved ones.
- Who would you most like to talk to this Autumn? Can you write or ring them in real life? If they’re already dead, try writing them a letter or recording a short video clip from the heart.
- Is there a friend or a group of friends you want to meet up with? What would you like to do with them? What are you going to do?
- How’s your family life? Are there any Autumn activities that you could share as a family to boost your togetherness?
- Autumn is a great time for scary ghost stories. What is the most scared for no real reason you have ever been? Do you have a proper ghost story to tell?
Finally, self-care. Mental and physical wellness relies on us using our common sense to build in ritual and retreat from the outside world. Autumn, with the lengthening nights, is a great time to set up new self-care routines and rituals.
- Have a tech-free day during Autumn. How does it make you feel? What did you achieve instead of time spent on line?
- Are there any times of your day that you feel need sprucing up? Do you have any routines that could be made more significant and create rituals with? Do you celebrate the small moments like homecoming every day, lunch or bedtime? Why or why not?
- Are you happy with your four pillars of wellness? How are you sleeping? Eating? Getting physical? Dealing with stress? Are there any easy changes to make now that will help you feel better in future?
- Describe your ideal Autumn weekend, from Friday homecoming to Monday morning. Is it anything like real life? Can you integrate moments from your ideal into your actual?
I hope you find these useful. Let me know in the comments below if there are any journal prompts you’ve used in Fall that you’ve found particularly useful at this time of year. I’m currently assembling my Christmas prompts for my (intended) Advent box… I should be writing about them in a few weeks… but I’d welcome any suggestions you have for them, as well.
Today’s header is almost like old and well-loved friend, since it’s just a different view of the one I use for dividing off my promotional paragraphs below. It’s a picture by Alisa Anton on Unsplash. I love the pure Autumnal feel of it: the blanket, the hot chocolate (with marshmallows), the scattered leaves and the book… because where would hygge be without a good book? The colours are also pure Autumn as well.
How to Hygge the British Way is my gift to the world. I don’t get paid for writing it, I’m not in it for the kudos, financial rewards, to become an influencer, work with brands or otherwise make any money from the blog. That’s why there are no ads, and any products I mention and recommend have either been gifted to me or bought by me with my everyday wages or donations from supporters. Every book I review has been bought and read by me, unless stated otherwise.
I do get a couple of pennies each time someone buys from the Amazon links on my page, as an Amazon Affiliate, but otherwise if you’d like to support me, I like to give something back in return. That’s why I write books. It always feels good if you get a book back in return for some money. You can find a full list of my books at my Author’s Page on Amazon, but especially recommended for this time of year are:
Cosy Happy Hygge: Setting up a rhythm to life and rituals to enjoy it to make for a more balanced life that handles waves and storms better. August is like a pause before real life begins again in September, so it’s a second chance to set up rituals and rhythms that boost happiness and work for you.
Happier: Probably my most personal book, it’s the story of how I used hygge and the little things in life to help boost my happiness. I still go back and reread to remind myself what I need to do to be a happy human.
On the principle that it’s never too early to start thinking ahead, really, and that Christmas is always on us before we know, how about Have Yourself a Happy Hygge Christmas? Christmas is about the small things in life, much as hygge is, and establishing what you want from Christmas and then being able to say no to the excess is important. The book has hints and tips that hopefully will help you enjoy what is, too often, a frantic season.
Available as just an ebook, and a short, sharp read, is Enjoying a Self-Care Christmas: Easy Ways to keep the Joy of Christmas, and your Sanity, intact. It’s an easy read, with ideas and hints to keep you sane through the season. The self-care advent calendar is one I’ve followed for a few years now, and it really is a small daily dose of calm in a manic month.
And on the basis that we may well find ourselves in Lockdowns or unable to enjoy an absolutely normal Christmas under Covid regulations if numbers spike, why not read and plan alternatives? Celebrating a Contagious Christmas was written in response to the pandemic last year, and will need updating soon, but it is about celebrating whatever the situation, and does have good advice on stocking up an emergency cupboard, celebrating when travelling to relatives is impossible and putting the heart of Christmas back into the heart of the celebrations.
If you’d like to support me, but don’t want to buy a book, I have a Paypal.Me account as Hygge Jem. Every little helps, so even a few pence goes towards the books, goods and courses I use and recommend on the site. I’m grateful for every little bit that brings me closer to my dream of full-time writing, and I know I couldn’t still be writing if it weren’t for the support of many readers and friends out there. Thank you all for every little bit of support, emotional, physical and financial, you give me.
If you’ve enjoyed this article, don’t forget to share it or save it so others can enjoy reading, thinking about and living hygge as well.