Keeping a journal helps you create order when your world feels like it’s in chaos. You get to know yourself by revealing your most private fears, thoughts, and feelings. Look at your writing time as personal relaxation time. It’s a time when you can de-stress and wind down….
Here are five good reasons why you should keep a journal:
Your journal has the potential to be both therapist and a dear friendwho listens without judging or interrupting and is open 24 hours a day. You can tell your journal things you wouldn’t dare verbalise to someone else. Writing it down takes the edge off more toxic feelings and emotions and helps you better understand what you’re feeling, freeing up thinking space to gain clarity on what to do next.
By getting into the habit of consciously and attentively looking back over your journals, you’re able to track your personal patterns of behaviour that help you achieve goals and respond effectively to challenges. You’re also able to see the patterns that get in the way of personal and professional growth, and healthy relationships with self and others. By becoming mindful with what you are discovering, you can move yourself from knowing into a doing state.
Journaling is inexpensive, accessible and is easily self-managed.It carries very few side effects and can be applied almost anywhere. Hence my naming it the new paper therapy.
Journals are creative portals. Because you’re in dialogue with your inner life when you write in a journal, you solve problems and get creative.Keeping a journal can be both a clearing-house and – in the next word, sentence or page – become an incubator where you tap into your imagination and unleash your creativity and ideas. Paul Smith and Betty Smith both fashion designers who both keep their creativity alive by regularly writing in a notebook. Writers like Virginia Woolf, Maya Angelou, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Henry David Thoreau, Sylvia Path and Alice Walker along with hundreds of writers across time who all kept diaries and journals which has informed their writing and creative productivity.
You give yourself permission to write yourself into history– consider how many women are left out of the history books? Journals give voice to your dreams and aspirations but are also safe spaces to release negative feelings, hurts and disappointments that could get in the way of those dreams and aspirations being realised….
….and what do Albert Einstein, Marie Curie, Frida Kahlo, Leonardo da Vinci, and Frederick Douglass all have in common? Each of these famous figures kept a journal or diary to record their experiences, thoughts, or feelings. Kahlo and da Vinci even used illustrations to express emotions and sketch out ideas.
From scientific geniuses to thoughtful artists, and everyone in between, keeping a journal can be a beneficial self-care practice. In fact, journaling can help you to:
Achieve your goals
When you use your journal to write down your goals, you can keep better track of your intentions. This will help you stay accountable and serve as a reminder of what you need to do to accomplish them. Be sure to get specific.
Track your progress and growth
If you make journaling a regular habit, you can see how much progress or growth you’ve made by revisiting previous entries.
Help you gain self-confidence
Seeing your progress can also give you a serious confidence boost. You can feel proud looking back at the challenges you faced and seeing how far you’ve come.
Improve your writing and communication skills
Writing, like anything, improves with practice. When you journal every day, you’re practicing the art of writing. And if you use a journal to express your thoughts and ideas, it’ll help improve your overall communication skills.
Reduce your stress and anxiety
Sometimes negative thoughts and emotions can run on a loop in our heads. This can be stressful when you’re dealing with a challenging situation — it can even make your present situation feel worse. But if you stop and put your emotions down on paper, it can help you release negative thoughts from your mind. As you write, you may even come up with a solution you hadn’t thought of before.
Help you find inspiration
Leonardo da Vinci drew some incredible invention ideas in his journals. Like him, you can also use your journaling time to brainstorm or let your imagination run wild. The inspiration that may pop up while you’re writing or sketching might even surprise you.
Strengthen your memory
The Journal of Experimental Psychology published research that shows how writing your thoughts down can reduce intrusive thoughts about negative events and improve working memory.* Even the simple act of writing something down lets your brain know you want to remember it. That’s why note-taking is such an effective practice when learning something new.
Ready to start but not sure how? Here are a few different types of journaling options to consider:
A stream of consciousness: Write down your thoughts as they happen. The words and thoughts don’t need to make sense, you’re simply capturing your thoughts in action.
A dream journal: Take note of your dreams each night as a way of getting in touch with your subconscious. Remember to make your journal entries right when you wake up.
A food journal: Make a note of what you’ve eaten each day. This will help you be more mindful about the foods you choose to eat. If you’re struggling with a healthy weight-loss journey, documenting what you ate can offer insight into areas you may need to change.
A fitness journal: Keep track of your workouts so you can stay committed to an active lifestyle. The best part of keeping this type of journal is seeing the progress you made over time.
A gratitude journal: Before going to sleep, make a list of everything you were thankful for that day, week, or month.
A sketch journal: Express your feelings, thoughts, and ideas through illustrations, doodles, or sketches.
A day’s events journal: Keep track of your experiences throughout the day. Whether it’s making note of a funny conversation or describing a new recipe you enjoyed.
A to-do list journal: Instead of keeping a running tally of to-do items in your head, write them down. You can cross things off as you complete them and get a great sense of accomplishment.
No matter which type of journal you decide to keep, remember there is no right or wrong approach. It’s all up to you. The simple act of taking the time to get in touch with your mind, body, and spirit is what’s truly important.