As I kid, I always had a diary. They started out sparkly and “lockable,” and eventually matured into fancier, grown-up versions. I may not remember what I wrote about, but I’m sure it was all very important.
After a while, the practice of writing down my daily thoughts fell to the wayside. Only recently have I once again equipped myself with pen and paper and jotted down my daily musings before I close my eyes at night.
Why did I start again? I’ve been reading a lot about the benefits of journaling, and it just seemed like an easy way to destress and unwind. And it truly has.
But it’s actually really good for a bunch of different reasons. Check this out!
Benefits of Journaling
- Perhaps the biggest benefit of journaling is that it relieves stress! Writing about anger, sadness, grief, or frustration (really any difficult emotions) helps to release the intensity of these feelings. If you keep them bottled up they can become toxic – so just let them flow onto the page. This will help you will feel calmer and give you the chance to think through them. It’s a great way to leave those daily stressors behind and look towards the future.
- Research shows that it can also help manage depression. Again, it goes back to the first point that writing out your thoughts can help you sort through them. It gives you the chance to release those pent-up negative emotions. This can keep you in a more positive frame of mind and help you build a buffer between any negative thoughts and your overall sense of well-being.
- It can help cultivate gratitude. What are you grateful for in your life? Research tells us that cultivating gravitate can help when it comes to setting and reaching your goals and improving your overall quality of life. By feeling and expressing appreciation for everything you have (however much or little it may be), this expression acts as realization and motivator to continue to strive for what you want but don’t have and to let go of what may have but don’t want.
- Journaling can assist with goal setting and achievement. How satisfying is it to create a list and check something off? Journaling can be that outlet. Sitting and reflecting on what you want for the future, writing it down, and coming up with a strategy on how you’ll get there can really motivate you to keep pushing. Maybe it’s a new career, maybe it’s traveling the world, maybe it’s cultivating stronger relationships with family. No matter the goal, writing it down can help you focus on it.
- It can build self confidence and help you learn about yourself. If no one else is ever going to read your journal (and that’s a good practice), it’s perhaps one of the only places you’ll find yourself able to be completely honest with yourself. If you’re able to voice even the most uncomfortable thoughts swirling around in your head, you’ll be able to work through them. And, it’s a chance for you to discover more about yourself and give yourself credit for the many ways you’re unique, thoughtful, intelligent, and creative.
Tips to Get the most from Journaling
Experts agree that there are a few tips to channel the benefits of journaling. We’re not saying there’s a right or a wrong way to do this. You find a method that works for you, and keep on keeping on.
That said, if you’re new to journaling, and want to find some structure, here are some tips:
- Find a quite space where you’re super comfortable. This might be outside, in bed, or at your desk.
- Start with every other day, and work up to every day if you can – even if it’s just a few sentences.
- If you’re writing to overcome trauma, don’t feel like you have to write about it. Write about whatever feels right in the moment.
- Keep your journal private; it’s for your eyes only. This way you can always write about whatever is on your mind without holding back. Get those thoughts out, in a safe place, where there’s no fear.
- Add your own personal touches – use color, draw, add recipes or ideas, create lists of your favorite things – whatever makes you happy or brings a smile to your face.
Journaling each day is a form of self-expression that can lift and empower. Whether you’re jotting down notes, writing song lyrics, doodling, writing positive messages or goals for the future, it’s a powerful activity for health and wellness. So, let the words flow onto the page.