Sometimes the term ‘journaling’ can have a negative connotation. It may throw you back to middle school where you were forced to keep a journal of your weekend activities for English class, teachers attempting to hammer the proper uses of commas and prepositions into your brain. Or maybe it makes you think of that dreaded Health class where you had to keep a food journal. But fast forward to present day. You are an adult and journaling can be extremely cathartic, good for your mental health, your stress levels and your sense of self. Not to mention, it keeps your brain pumping, your memories coming, and your hands active!
- Journaling helps you to clarify your thoughts and your feelings. At the end of a long day, it’s easy to feel rundown with so many thoughts and feelings bouncing around your brain. This causes us to be overwhelmed. Try writing it out. Take deep breaths. It can also sometimes be hard to understand exactly HOW you feel about something or someone. Journaling can help you to organize your thoughts and ultimately, understand yourself and your actions better.
- Stress. Who doesn’t have it these days? We are all running in a million different directions and family, relationships, finances, etc. all add to the daily stress. Writing about your feelings – whether they are feelings of anger, sadness, anxiety, fear, excitement, nervousness, happiness – can help you to release some of that intensity.
- Do you ever have dreams that cause you to ask, “What in the world was I thinking before I fell asleep last night?!” We’ve all been there. Journaling not only teaches you how to write stories (because aren’t dreams really just stories that play in our minds each night?), but also helps to soothe you after a troubling dream. It can provide insights and help to interpret dreams and deep thoughts that just may be in your subconscious.
- When you keep a journal and write about your day-to-day activities, it can help you to create goals and stick to them. Think of the feeling of accomplishment you’ll experience when you can go back in your journal (don’t forget to keep you entries dated!) and see when you wrote down something you’d like to accomplish and then also check the date of when you revealed that you, in fact, accomplished that goal. It can be anything from finishing a certain book to completing an exercise regimen. No goal is too small to include in your journal.
- Journaling helps with your memory – especially as you get older. Ever find you are forgetting dates or certain events? Well, with a journal, you have a permanent record of all that. It can be very fun (and a brain buster for your memory!) to look back through old journals. Call it a written trip down memory lane.
Now that you know all of the benefits of journaling, including stress reduction, personal growth, healing, problem-solving, creativity enhancement, etc., where to begin? Start by jotting down notes for about 20 minutes each day. It doesn’t have to be a Shakespearean novel. You can use bullet points, sentence fragments, anything that keeps pen to paper. Many people have found that if they choose the same time every day, as well as the same place, it helps them to relax more. Try it right before bed or on your lunch break. Go to a cute cafe or designate a comfortable spot in your home.
This is YOUR personal experiment, so have fun with it and don’t hold back. Don’t worry about spelling or punctuation, just focus on that constant flow of words from your brain to your paper – or if you are using a computer, then your brain to your screen!