One of the activities I adopted once I'd started on the self help track, was keeping a journal. I know that strictly speaking a journal is a daily recording but I don't think it's necessary for you to do this. It can be quite intermittent, as mine was at first. These days, however, I do literally write in my journal every day. It's a habit I've developed, a good one I think, and one I couldn't not now do. I would no sooner skip my journal than skip brushing my teeth. For me it's like inputting the numbers in Lost; my world would start to implode! Though this could have something to do with my somewhat obssessive nature.
So what are the benefits of keeping a journal? Firstly, it's a way of recording progress on your path to self improvement. It's easy to lose track of this. You can look back and see how far you've come.
It's useful to remind yourself of this when you feel that you've taken several steps backwards. It's also a useful way to highlight the temporary nature of problems that you have to face and how you have come through them in the past. The present has a way of expanding so that it feels like it's always been like this. That feeds into our tendency to eternalise situations: "This is always happening to me!"
You can use your journal to set goals: long term, short term and daily. This is a good way to stay focused. If you're stuck for things to write about, just write some positive affirmations over and over. There is a power to writing them down in addition to speaking them aloud, feeding as it does your motor memory.
A journal is a great outlet for giving vent, a vehicle for your emotions and to explore dilemmas. Sometimes when you're writing you can pose questions for guidance and sometimes get an answer, especially if you imagine a sort of higher self, a wise friend, who will step in with advice, even though it is still yourself writing!
Looking back through journal entries for time to time, you will also start to perceive recurrent themes, even blind spots, that perhaps you wouldn't otherwise be aware of. So the journal provides a feedback mechanism.
Finally, it can be a means to take control of your life to a greater extent, as you start to sense that you can write your script, becoming more conscious of your own narrative. What sort of day would you like to have? Get scribbling now. It's cheap, easy and accessible. All you need is a pen and a notebook.