Spending seven minutes in the morning to journal my thoughts is like inhaling a breath of fresh air.

Imagine standing on a beach overlooking the crashing waves. You sit down and purposely gather your thoughts while taking a short pause. There’s a journal to one side and your favorite set of colored gel pens to the other.

Maybe for you, it isn’t the ocean. Maybe it’s a quiet corner of your city apartment or the desk in your office. Your journal spot could be overlooking the mountains or at your neighborhood playground. No matter where I am or how my week is going, I’m refreshed after taking seven minutes to focus, a short break in the morning to think.

Writing your thoughts isn’t rocket science, but the seven minute morning routine is more than that. It’s something about the quiet place, the consistency of making it a daily habit that changes my day. The first minute (yes, it’s actually timed) is to clear your head. It’s the decision to put all your distractions aside and be present. I think we can all relate to wanting less stress in our day and more healthy mindfulness, especially this year.

My favorite part of the whole exercise is the second minute, where you take some time to breathe. I literally feel the fears, doubts for the future, and that tightness in my neck melt away as I draw in the salty air. Here I remember that every other minute I spend breathing today happens involuntarily. If God created each breath so that I don’t have to worry about controlling it, what else is actually in God’s hands that I shouldn’t worry about?

After this, I start journaling. Here’s the moment where I can process through all the loud, disorganized thoughts in my head. This is writing with purpose. What’s on your mind today? If there’s something stressful going on, I write it down. I’ve learned to be honest with myself and write what’s actually on my mind.

Most of the time, I have a thousand things and only jot down a few major ideas. Other days, there might be just one or two. Each is equally important. When I’m having a tough time putting my emotions into words, I’ll draw a quick sketch. Whether I’m angry, joyful, or even impatient, it usually shows up there.

At the end, I close my eyes and bring everything to God in a prayer. As I listen to God and reflect on what He’s saying, something usually pops into my mind different from what I’d think about on my own. Sometimes this part ends in ambiguity, and that’s okay. Just journaling my thoughts and taking time to breathe is enough to change my mindset.

As I look up over the ocean with so much of my life undecided, I realize that God is calling me to be present now, to trust Him in the unknown. Who knows what the adventure will be today?