Remember when you were a child and you had a diary and would write down all your little secrets about what you and your best friend got up to? Well that little diary was a form of journaling and is something that has far more benefits for us as adults than many people realise.
In recent years, a lot more research has been done on the benefits of journaling and the findings are pretty amazing. Journaling is a superstar when it comes to helping us manage our emotions in a positive manner. In a study done in 2006, journaling was found to reduce symptoms of people with depression, anxiety and hostility
Journaling simply refers to the act of writing down or keeping a diary about your thoughts and the everyday events of your lives including what may be going wrong or right.
This simple act has been found to be extremely powerful for helping individuals deal with conflict, reduce stress and manage difficult emotions
In particular, when it comes to conditions such as depression and anxiety, journaling can work wonders.
I started journaling reluctantly in 2018 after a friend of mine suggested it to me during a very difficult and stressful time in my life. I did it reluctantly because I had this fear of someone finding my journal and reading all my innermost thoughts and the thought of that used to put me off. I eventually overcame that fear and started to write down my thoughts and feelings from day to day, my emotions around certain events, feelings of anger and hurt, basically I wrote down anything and everything that came to mind.
What I found from doing this is I had more clarity of mind, less emotional baggage and I started to feel much more at ease with myself. I also felt less encumbered, like a weight had been lifted off my shoulders. I had discovered the power of journaling.
I went from strength to strength at that point, writing down inspirational verses from books I was reading or the bible and my interpretation of what I read and how it impacted me. This became the beginnings of my foray into writing. Before I knew it, I was addicted to writing.
One day I sat and read through my journal and was startled to see how meaningful, helpful and uplifting it was and that moment of realisation, that day was the day I decided I was going to write a book loosely formed from the writings I had done in my journal.
My book “Screaming helps” was published in 2019 and the whole journey of writing it has been an amazing experience for me, so much so, I am in the process of writing a second book. Of course, after this experience, I am a complete convert to journaling and I believe it forms an essential part of a robust self care package.
If you’ve never journaled, a great way to sample this form of expression is to try using the Pandemic Project website. A resource created by Psychology researchers to help people explore their challenges, experiences and emotions around Covid-19 and the Pandemic.
Otherwise, you can easily buy a notebook or a custom designed journal and start your own journey of journaling.
If you want to know why you should journal, I share below some surprising benefits of journaling ;
- Writing things down gives you much more clarity about what may be bothering you and helps you to identify more clearly what your problems and challenges are
- Helps you to identify negative thought patterns and your triggers
- Acts as a tool for self reflection and self evaluation as you can look back over periods of time to see how you have changed
- Writing allows you to engage with difficult emotions or experiences
- The routine of writing regularly can help you build more structure into your life
- Writing can encourage you to take action on things that are bothering you. When we put our thoughts and worries down on paper, they become more real and with the added bonus of clarity we gain from seeing those thoughts, it can help us actually decide what type of action we need to take to improve things in our life.
These are just some of the many reasons that you should start writing your thoughts down. It can be a force for good, forcing you to confront difficult emotions and giving you the opportunity to see what you are grateful for and how you can improve. Although you can buy journals which already have prompts and question that form the basis for your writing, it is also possible for you to decide how and what you want to journal. You can buy a notebook and try your hand out at doing it freestyle and see how you do on a day to day basis. I favour both styles of journaling and I have a journal which I purchased that has prompts and suggestions which I like to use as a formal way of journaling but I also like journaling free style. It really depends on my mood.
I feel that if you are a beginner, it may be useful to have some guidance around what to write but this is of course totally up to you. However, some useful prompts and questions for what to write in your journal for your morning routine include;
- What you are grateful for at the start of the day
- One thing that you will try to do that day
- A positive affirmation
- How you will make that day a good one/ good deeds
At the end of the day, prompts can include
- What was the best thing about the day
- What didn’t go well and how you would improve
- What good deed you did that day
- What you are grateful for at the end of the day
I hope this article has inspired you to start your own journaling practice today. If you want some more tips and help to get started, feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org