What is journaling?
Journaling is a daily writing practice. It’s where you write your thoughts, feelings and reflections on events and situations that may have happened. There are a number of benefits of journaling and people who do it regularly say it helps deal with stresses and challenges in life.
What are the benefits of journaling?
Journaling has been described as a life-changing activity helping to:
- understand and release emotions
- enable decision making and focus
- allow our subconscious mind to provide clarity and work out problems.
I’ve also read articles saying it can help with physical disorders. Whilst I can’t see journaling being a direct cure for illnesses, I can see the mind/body connection and the impact they have on each other. Our physical health massively affects our mental health and wellbeing.
Friends who I know that journal have told me it has helped them through some really difficult moments in life.
Writing helps to process emotions and make sense of them. Keeping a record of feelings through journaling means we can read back through our thoughts and see if patterns emerge. This helps us to understand if there are issues that need dealing with or where we could reflect upon.
Why I’m starting journaling
I have a tendency to overthink and get overwhelmed easily. I can also allow fear to stall my decision making and fall into patterns of catastrophic thinking.
I hope that journaling will help me rationalise my feelings, stop my thought patterns of right/wrong thinking and help me be braver.
How to journal
There seem to be a number of ways to journal and techniques to achieve different aims.
Expressive writing involves dedicating 15-30 minutes to writing down feelings rather than events (as in a more traditional diary). It doesn’t require you to stick to a narrative, grammar or spelling to allow your subconscious mind run free.
Bullet journals combine several elements including planning, tracking and journaling arranged in an artful way. It tends to be top line thoughts and I can see how they help track goals and intentions. They appeal to the organiser in me, however, I feel I need more self-reflection.
I tried expressive writing to document my feelings six months after my Dad died. I wanted to understand my grief and try to make sense of it all. The reality was that I found it too hard to emotionally connect with the words and like I was writing a story about my life rather than recording my emotions. It was possibly too soon, too painful and I wasn’t quite ready to open myself up completely.
I’ve decided I’m going to ask myself a question each time I journal. This might be as simple as checking in to see how I feel that day to asking myself what I’m scared of.
I will report back.