Why you should start journaling

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 ;

  1. 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
  2. Helps you to identify negative thought patterns and your triggers
  3. 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
  4. Writing allows you to engage with difficult emotions or experiences
  5. The routine of writing regularly can help you build more structure into your life
  6. 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;

  1. What you are grateful for at the start of the day
  2. One thing that you will try to do that day
  3. A positive affirmation
  4. How you will make that day a good one/ good deeds

At the end of the day, prompts can include

  1. What was the best thing about the day
  2. What didn’t go well and how you would improve
  3. What good deed you did that day
  4. 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 tayokutiwrites@gmail.com

Tayo xoxo

Embrace the ordinary!

Have you ever asked yourself or someone else that well-known but dreaded question? “Why am I here?”. Here of course, being planet earth that we all reside on. It is a question I have asked myself more often as I get older. What is my purpose in life? Why am I not doing more with my life? What should I have done that I haven’t done? and so on. Of course, these are not easy questions to answer, that is, if there is even an appropriate answer for such questions. Surely, the answer to these questions will differ from one person to another.

Life can sometimes seem so humdrum and mundane that we question what we are doing wrong. We wonder why our life is not more exciting and full of adventure. For the majority of us, we wake up most mornings and go through the same lame stuff we did the day before and the day before that. Most of the time, we plod on without really questioning things but once in a while we start to wonder what happened to all of those amazing plans we had of what our life would look like.

The thing is we all start with an expectation of what we expect our lives to be and for virtually everyone, we want our lives to be amazing, exciting, full of adventure and promise. I am yet to meet someone whose plan was for their life to be one long slog of responsibilities and paying bills. This makes it obvious that even before we started we had already built in expectations that were perhaps a little bit lofty, perhaps overly optimistic and of course when our expectations are unrealistic then inevitably, disappointment is not far off.

If we expected that our life would be built up of major achievements that are noteworthy and impressive and that doesn’t happen we start to question what went wrong. We look around at others, and measure ourselves against them and of course we will probably have reason to feel somehow that we have failed somehow especially if the people with whom we compare ourselves seem to have done better than us in some way.

Why do we forget that not everyone can be a high flier, high achiever or even in the simplest forms, not everyone will get married, have children, buy “that” house or fly first class!. For most of us life is going to be pretty ordinary, no guts, no glory. Just getting through the regular everyday stuff and trying our best to do that as best as we can. We have to accept that ordinary is okay and actually it can be better than okay and does not mean your life cannot be full and happy. Instead we can start to think more about the ordinary or not so ordinary things that we would want to achieve in life and perhaps set small achievable goals for ourselves so that once in a while we punctuate the mundane with a bit of excitement. The funny thing about this is that when we are able to do that, we are so much more appreciative of what we have and feel even more grateful to be able to have the extra.

So perhaps we will never write that book we that dreamed about writing or maybe we will and maybe we will never visit Rome or maybe we will, we may never go trekking in India, then again we just might. whatever the case, let us learn how to be happy even in the small things, let us find a way to be grateful that we are even alive and able to dream and plan how we can do something different in our lives. Let us be grateful for the opportunities that we have had that others never got. Let us also be happy for those who do those extraordinary things we may dream of, they make it clear that our dreams are possible.

Also don’t forget that most of the things people reckon will make them happy really doesn’t and sometimes the happiest moments will come from the very normal stuff that we experience in our everyday lives. So, embrace the ordinariness of your life and make it work for you. Remember you don’t have to fit anybody’s idea of great to be happy. Find what makes you happy and stick with that.