How often have you thought about starting a journal, only to put it off time and again? There always seems to be a reason to start it tomorrow, next week or even next month. But, with all this down time, maybe now is the right time to finally start that journal.
When you think of keeping a journal, you might picture a young girl giggling as she writes “dear diary…” but that’s a common misperception. Journaling has been popular for hundreds of years and it really has little to do with society’s perception of keeping a diary.
Why is journaling different? Well it is and it isn’t. Journaling is not exclusively for girls or teens. Journaling is really for anyone who needs an outlet for their thoughts — its a cathartic form of self-expression that can help us to sort out and better understand our thoughts and feelings.
What are the benefits of journaling?
Journaling, sometimes associated with a stream of consciousness writing, uncovers thoughts, ideas, feelings and passions you perhaps didn’t even know you had. It helps us to take the thoughts swirling around our head and get them out in the open — this enables us to read them and give them the attention they need. It helps us to figure out what’s really important, vs. what are just random thoughts clinking around.
If you’re sitting on the fence, these benefits of journaling may help to convince you that the time to start that journal is now:
1. It keeps your thoughts organized.
Journals help us to organize our thoughts on our daily experiences — events, feelings, opinions and observations. How often do you lay in bed at night re-hashing your thoughts? That’s because you need an outlet to get them out into the light…that is why a journal helps you to keep your thoughts more organized.
2. It helps with being mindful.
Mindfulness is gaining in popularity. Being mindful, or, “in the moment,” is directly tied to happiness and peace in our life. When we keep our mind more on the moment and less stuck in the past or stressing about the future, it helps us to actively engage with our thoughts — basically, it helps us to deal with what we have going on now, rather than ruminating on the past or obsessing about the future. A journal is an ideal tool to help us do this.
3. It relieves stress.
Writing down our feelings helps us to clear out the attic, as it were. Our anxieties and stresses stay bottled up inside, even if we have someone to talk to. With a journal, we’re able to free-style write what we’re feeling because its just us — we can be ourselves and just let it all pour out. People are often hesitant to invest the time in a journal, but once they do, they see what a great stress reducer it can be.
4. It improves our emotional intelligence
Emotional Intelligence is basically our ability to recognize and manage our emotions. For example, when faced with a difficult person or situation at work, having a high EI (emotional intelligence) means that before we react and perhaps lash out, we recognize that we’re feeling something, we can quickly figure out why we’re feeling that way and before we react, we can temper our “reaction” appropriately. It really helps us to not only manage our own emotions, but it helps us with our intuitive emotions, so we become more empathetic to what others are feeling as well. A journal is a fantastic tool in strengthening emotional intelligence because the act of writing out our thoughts and feelings means we can better understand them and thus, be more in control.
Learn more about Emotional Intelligence
5. It helps with healing.
Unresolved feelings that clink around our sub-conscious bubble up to the top now and then. We may have had an argument with a friend and we think we’re “over it,” but we keep dwelling on it. That dwelling hinders healing. Journaling can help us to get it all out and we can write out what we really feel/think about that argument and through that process, we get our emotions in check and we’re more apt to really let it go, so true healing can occur.
6. It helps with communication.
What we write in our journal and how we write it, is purely personal. Journaling can really benefit our verbal communications as well as written. If we need to say something to someone, or we have a school or work project that requires careful thought, writing about it in our journal can help us take our thoughts, put them on paper, organize them and use that to help us prep for how we can best verbalize them.
7. It helps with creativity.
You know that idea you have for writing a book? How about that recipe you want to create? Journaling is a great way to get our creative juices flowing. The more we brainstorm and write, the more we feel relief and freedom. We start to use more complex words in our journal, we improve our writing and we increase our scope of thinking. Journaling is one of the best ways to get our creativity up and out of our heads and into action…exactly where it belongs.
There are many more benefits to journaling, so these are just a few. The best way to start is to…well, start! Give it a try and stick to it. Try to do it daily if you can and remember, it’s your journal, so there are no firm rules — what ever works for you, is what is best for you.