Do you have a regular practice that allows you to explore your thoughts and feelings? Whether you do or not, keeping a journal is a wonderful addition to your daily or weekly routine. Consider how you can experience the benefits of journaling.
What Is Journaling?
While there are many explanations about what journaling is, the truth is journaling can be whatever you need it to be. Whether your intentions are for self-exploration or stress relief, or to achieve goals or tap into creative juices, journaling can be all that and more. Read on to learn about the things we know journaling can be for you.
How to Get Started
Choose a Journal
Purchasing a journal can be a fun, personal experience. Whether it’s a sleek style journal or something decorative and elaborate, make your journal your own. Have you seen any you like at a local bookstore or online? You can also type on your laptop or choose a digital journal that saves your work and dates it for you.
Designate Time to Write
You’re busy, and you’ll want to carve out some time in your day for keeping a journal. Just like with any other task, you must designate a specific time to do this. Try to keep consistent of when you sit down to write. When is best for you: morning, afternoon or evening?
Choose a workable timeframe to allot for your writing. Start with at least 10 to 15 minutes of writing, then try longer sessions when your schedule permits. Be sure to minimize distractions and aim to complete your journal entry with no interruptions.
Choose Your Writing Style
The first rule of thumb in choosing your writing style when keeping a journal is to do what comes naturally. You don’t have to follow one particular form or structure, but it can help to choose one. Usually, the best approach to take is that there are no rules to journalling. Engage in the process in a way that feels most authentic to you.
There’s no right or wrong answer, choose what works best for you. If taking a more strategic approach with writing lists or bullets is your style, then do that. Or you may really want to remove any structure and try free association or stream of consciousness. You can change up your style whenever you want to.
What Topics to Address
Do you want to write about relationships or various aspects of health and wellness? Do you prefer to write about your day’s events or do you prefer to write about plans for tomorrow? Answering these kinds of questions will provide you with a focal point for keeping a journal. Once again, there’s no right or wrong answer, although choosing a topic will direct you.
Something That’s Your Own
One of the best things about keeping a journal is that it’s just for you. Keeping a journal will be most effective if you engage in a way in which you’re not censoring yourself. It’s meant to be private and a safe place for you to be 100% honest. Be as candid as you can be and share your truthful account of what you’re thinking and feeling.
Top Benefits of Keeping a Journal
1. Stress Relief and Relaxation
One of the first things you’ll notice about keeping a journal is that you’ll be calmer while doing it. Journaling has the power to bring about a state of relaxation quickly. It’s a natural stress reliever that will put you in a zone apart from the busy world around you. Some people use this as their meditative practice or to segue into clearing the mind of anxious thoughts and restlessness.
As you choose your comfortable setting to ease your process, you should open yourself up to feeling its calming effects. Move forward intending to use the time to decompress. Before you make your entry, focus on taking a few deep breaths and settle into the moment. This will get you good and ready to begin your reflection of what you write about.
2. Sparks Creativity
Keeping a journal can awaken your ability to tell a story. There’s nothing stopping your journal entries from being an outlet for story-telling. Whether stories from your past or present or some ideas of about imagined stories floating around, why not get them down chapter and verse?
Writing creatively may even help indirectly with other problems you may have. When trying to solve problems, you frequently take a left-brained, analytical approach. You can also trigger answers by engaging right-brained creativity and intuition. Have you tried this?
When you’re working on a writing project, keeping a separate journal alongside your project can enhance your process. Especially if you’re experiencing writer’s block, a simple journal entry of some stream of consciousness can get things flowing again. Are your creative juices stagnant? Trust that putting your pen to hand will loosen things up and let your expressions rise.
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3. Getting in Touch with Your Thoughts
You have an internal dialogue, everyone does! Sometimes you’re aware of it, but often you’re too busy to stop and listen to the thoughts going on inside your head. Keeping a journal allows you to give a voice to your internal dialogue. Have you considered what it would be like to write out some of those thoughts?
In the process of doing this, you catch negative thoughts patterns you have. Everyone has them, so why not inspect them? Do you have a nagging voice that’s telling you, you’re not doing well enough? Let that voice out onto the paper rather than continue to have it echo within your head.
As you jot down your thoughts, you’ll also foster the habit of acknowledging your positive thoughts about your accomplishments. You notice places where you can deliberately insert positive messages by checking in with your thoughts. This is the power of affirmative thinking and allowing yourself to re-frame your thoughts. Keeping a journal helps you cultivate your a stronger mind.
4. Getting in Touch with Your Feelings
So much of how we perceive our life experience is through a cognitive-emotional feedback loop. You want to keep this process smooth and clear to guide your perceptions. Just as keeping a journal will get you in touch with your thoughts, it will also get you in touch with your emotions. It’s the perfect way to find the words to describe how you’re feeling.
By doing this through the process of journaling, it gives you the chance to learn more about what you feel while in a setting of non-judgmental curiosity. Finding outlets to speak about your emotions is wonderful too, but through journaling, you honor yourself with a sense of acceptance first. You’ll increase your emotional intelligence and your ability to manage your emotions.
A result of exploring your feelings in a journal is that you’ll improve your communication skills around sharing your emotions. You’ll find new ways to share your experience and strengthen your perception of how others feel. Do you want to increase your self-awareness around your emotions? Writing in your journal with this intention invaluable to deeper exploration.
5. Dreams, Interpretations, and Memory
Do you have dreams while your sleeping? Do you catch yourself wanting to write them down to try to decipher them? Keeping a journal can help you unlock the meaning behind them. This can be an enjoyable and revealing practice if you place your journal near your bed and jot down those ideas while between sleep and wakefulness.
You can explore the interpretations of what you wrote during your regularly scheduled journaling time. There’s a powerful connection between the hand and brain, and you want to trigger those synapses deliberately. Composing the words in your journal entry will exercise and strengthen memory. Reviewing the previous images and words in your brain positively reinforce your cognitive recall.
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6. Revealing What’s Unconscious
Keeping a journal can be a cathartic experience, especially when writing immediately when you wake from sleep. This style of journaling is like tapping into a divine origin and influence that wouldn’t happen normally. Use a free association style where you jot down whatever comes into your mind while trying not to censor your thoughts. This free association is like a stream of consciousness, but with no agenda, just intuitive leaps creating links to unconscious thinking,
You may be conflicted about something you need to learn about yourself. Revelations will come up for you like noticing your defenses against self-exposure, or you may confront unconscious fears. Your ego will resist these revelations and ward off any desire to change. Yet with the words in your journal in front of you.. you can face them and become conscious of them.
Does this sound therapeutic for you? If so you can look into the book “The Artist’s Way” by Julia Cameron. She recommends a process similar to this called Morning Pages that allows you to make a clearing for inspiration to come to you. Whether intending to create art or to feel light and unburdened, this could be a productive way to start your day.
7. Self-Care and Self-Healing
Are you sensing you need more opportunities for self-care? Keeping a journal is a tried-and-true way to take part in self-healing. Whether the healing is on an emotional, mental, or physical level, journaling will help. Mentally it Improves cognitive functioning, and emotionally it will bring stability and release.
There’s also the physical healing that can be gained. Journaling decreases the symptoms of various health conditions like asthma, arthritis, and neurological disorders. It counteracts many of the negative effects of injuries and illnesses when you practice doing it regularly.
It can even strengthen the immune system preventing the onset of illnesses.
8. Brainstorming and Achieving Goals
Usually, when someone brainstorms, they talk with other people. Keeping a journal can be another tool for you to brainstorm ideas on any topic. Areas like work or school, or how to be healthy and fit are perfect things to brainstorm about in your journal. This approach can take shape in the form of goal setting and achieving desirable outcomes.
Through your journaling, you can keep track of your accomplishments. You’ll also have an archive at your disposal of what works and what doesn’t work for you. You’ll realize the patterns and trends that contribute to you making improvements. How would you like to keep track of this and factor it into your plans for progress?
9. Maintaining a State of Gratitude
Writing a list of things you’re grateful for is another popular form of keeping a journal. A gratitude journal is a distinct method that quickly lets you focus on what to share. It promotes inspiration and positivity too! It’s simple to do, as your primary motivation is to write each thing you are thankful for, one after the other.
Highlighting what you’re grateful for is part of affirmative thinking, which is a great mindset to tap into regularly. Having an attitude of gratitude is a reliable tool to balance any of the woes that would otherwise bring you down. Gratitude counters thoughts that may induce feelings of sadness or dissatisfaction. Writing about aspects of your life experience that produce gratitude, sustains positive vibes.
10. Strengthen Your Self-Discipline
To live a vibrant, fruitful life, you need to engage in healthy habits. Keeping a journal is a win/win activity that’s easy to monitor and incorporate into your life. It’s enjoyable at the moment, and you will reap future rewards. Everything about journalling is your choice and in your own hands.
With this practice, you’ll strengthen your self-discipline by showing up to do it regularly. Decide how regularly can you commit to writing in your journal. Your writing routine will increase your confidence and overall happiness. It’s a vital advantage to have a healthy habit like journaling!
Take advantage of this traditional practice of self-reflection. Keeping a journal has so many benefits, all you need to do is set aside some time and write. Make it your own and enjoy the process!