The practice of journaling has been around for a long time. Writing a diary isn’t a new activity; many of us have written diaries at some point in our lives, lasting from one week as a child to every single day without fail.
Samuel Pepys’ and Anne Frank’s diaries are two of the most widely read, not that they intended them to be when they were written. Indeed, most diaries were written merely to log daily events for posterity.
But now journaling has evolved into a process that can help and support our mental health and emotional wellbeing in many ways.
A pioneer of writing therapy, Dr James W Pennebaker, found in studies that writing had many positive effects on physiology including boosting immune function and reducing stress. He noted from those taking part in his studies that “the writing experience was valuable and meaningful in their lives”.
Benefits of journaling
1. Express your feelings in a safe place
Journalling allows you to express your feelings in a safe space, knowing that no-one need read your words. You are able to let go of anger, hurt or frustration and thereby lowers stress levels, helping you to manage anxiety.
2. Clear Your Mind
By putting the words down on paper, you can clear your mind of cluttered thoughts. You are no longer carrying the weight of those thoughts around with you. Instead, you create room in your mind to explore new ideas and make plans.
3. Gain Clarity
By acknowledging and writing down any fears, you can begin to get clarity of issues where you feel uncertain. Seeing the words in front of you allows you to focus on that fear rather than sorting through the jumble in your head. You can start to see things from a different perspective, allowing you to solve problems by thinking more creatively.
4. Develop Self-Awareness
Through journaling, you can develop your self-awareness. You will begin to recognise unhelpful habits or behaviours that you can then start to change. You will find that you become accountable for changes you want to make, without being influenced by others.
5. Easier Decision Making
As you develop your self-awareness and start to gain clarity on various issues, you will find that decision making becomes easier for you. You will begin to pay attention to the things that are really important to you.
6. Develop a Positive Mindset
Journaling really can help you develop a positive mindset and make positive changes in your life. As you journal and note down your accomplishments and good things that have happened during the day, you can refer back to these should you need a boost. But what if the day wasn’t so good? Journal your thoughts so you aren’t carrying them around with you and use them as a tool to work out what might be done differently.
“Everyone should have a form of a diary, it’s a great release” Stanley Victor Paskavich (Gulf War Veteran & Poet)”
How to journal
You might think that you’re too busy to keep a journal, but it doesn’t have to take a lot of time and effort.
Just spending 15 minutes at the end of the day writing in a notepad will have some benefit, and you’ll start to see positive results if you stick to this new habit.
Treat yourself to a beautiful notebook and you’ll look forward to picking it up each day.
Should you miss a day or two, don’t worry and don’t give up, just pick it up and start again as soon as you can.
People often tell me they notice a difference in how they feel when they’ve felt too busy and missed out their journaling habit so it’s definitely worth the effort to keep it up, and you’ll be much better able to handle whatever life throws at you.
Write about whatever comes to your mind. You may find the words flow naturally once you put pen to paper. There are no rules. Equally, just one sentence journaling can be as powerful as described by Gretchin Rubin of The Happiness Project.
7 Step Daily Journaling System
To help you get more from your journaling I’ve created a Powerful 7 Step Daily Journaling System, which only takes a short time each day. Make this a part of your daily routine and you’ll begin to see some amazing results.
The 7 Step System involves a space to download your thoughts and feelings, questions to prepare you for the day ahead, reflective questions to help you review and process throughout the day. It encourages you to notice the positives and also helps you to make self-care more of a priority in your life.
I’d love to share this system with you, I’ve found it to be quite transformational. You can grab a copy here.