Writing has always been a great purge for me.
As far back as I can remember, I have always loved expressing my thoughts in words, to the best of my ability, I must add…because sometimes, my crazy imagination cannot be put into simple words. LOL. So writing has always come easy to me and with time, I found that I did quite well expressing myself and articulating my thoughts with words.
I had always been a “journal-keeper” at different stages of my life, if there is such a word. Of course, at some point, I fell into the “Dear Diary” phase that plagues most female pre-teens/teenagers where I would whisper untold secrets to my diary (the type that came with a little gold padlock and key in its edge) with words, feeling confident that the padlock kept my deepest darkest secrets safe from the world. Plis, what secrets?
LOL. Youthful innocence.
Some months ago, I started Journaling intentionally and its benefits have been too great not to share. “Journaling generally involves the practice of keeping a journal that explores thoughts and feelings surrounding the events of your life.”
Whichever type of journal you choose to keep (gratitude, goals, ideas, values, experiences, curiosity or a combination of all), journaling and writing down your thoughts, feelings and emotions in different moments is guaranteed to give great scientifically researched benefits.
Journaling has become an integral part of my daily routine (I do this 3-5 minutes everyday, some days are longer). After the last sentence, whatever it may be, I drop my pen on my paper feeling somewhat satisfied, purged and more aware of myself, my emotions or what I am feeling at that point. I am then able to connect with myself in ways I may not be able to do through out the day (if journaling in the morning) or may not have done through out the day (if journaling at night.
I am really excited to share some of these simply changing and amazing benefits of journaling with you. They include:
Journaling reduces stress and anxiety
ARRGGHHH! I cannot over emphasize this enough! Journaling has helped to greatly reduce stress and anxiety in different aspects of my life. You find that writing about frustration, anger, sadness and other painful emotions helps to release the intensity of these feelings. By journaling your emotions and thoughts, especially when they are not so great, you tend to feel calmer and better able to stay in the present.
In the moments where I have felt overwhelmed with some challenges, putting pen to paper, even if not having the right words, has helped reduce any anxiety or stress felt at the time.
Clarifies thoughts and gives perspective
Another benefit of journaling is that it helps you prioritize, clarify thinking, and accomplish your most important tasks, over urgent busy work. Journaling has definitely helped me clarify what I need and desire in various aspects of my life.
By writing down your thoughts routinely, you get to know what makes you feel happy and confident. You also become clear about situations and people who are toxic for you — important information for your emotional well-being. You become clear about who you are as a person, why you feel the way you do in certain circumstances and how you can apply yourself to become the best version of yourself.
“Thinking in writing has this magical quality of clarifying your thoughts.”
Furthermore, journaling also helps to reframe your personal narrative and gives you a fresh perspective on people, experiences, things and lessons learned. By reflecting on your thoughts and experiences, you are, in effect, telling your own story. Journaling therefore helps to find new meaning and perspectives in these narratives.
Journaling serves as a medium to release your emotions on paper; when you are happy, sad, pained, angry, frustrated, sober or just feeling grateful, writing down your thoughts and expressing how you feel can be a great way to release your emotions.
When we are going through certain emotions, we find that we either want to speak to someone trustworthy about it or just shutdown completely and drown in our thoughts. Journaling serves as an effective way of purging intense emotions that may be raging deep within you so you do not implode or explode over little things.
Encourages mindfulness and self awareness
For me, this has to be one of the most amazing benefits of keeping a journal. By consciously articulating and writing down my thoughts, experiences and emotions at different moments, I have become more mindful of who I am at my core, the decisions I take and the impact these decisions have on me. I am also becoming more aware of my self ; my temperaments, likes, dislikes, wants, needs and so on.
Increases Gratitude and encourages healing
Often enough, I try to write down things I am grateful for. This could be difficult especially if going through a tough time. However, by writing down at least one thing, you become aware of the fact that life is not just composed of unfortunate events and it encourages you to maintain a positive attitude to life.
In addition, journaling helps healing through difficult moments. By consciously writing down your experiences, lessons learned and your feelings about these experiences, you are able to heal through these tough times. By writing and repeating affirmations, you are able to take control of your thought process and focus on healing and not suffering.
Self-discipline and achievement of goals
Needless to say, journaling helps to boost self-discipline and the achievement of goals. By constantly writing down your goals, how you feel about attaining them and the best ways you can achieve them while staying true to yourself, you learn to discipline yourself and can achieve goals set out in various aspects of your life. You are able to track your progress and look back on what you could have done better.
What if I writing is not my thing?
A typical question that comes up on journaling is “What if writing is not my thing?”. To this, I simply say “Then make it your thing!”
The benefits of journaling are just too great and impactful for you to box yourself into only what your thing is. As human beings, we are constantly growing, evolving, learning, unlearning and changing. Allow yourself to evolve and welcome new things/routines that are guaranteed to boost your mental health.
So how can you start?
Your journal does not have to be anything fancy. Just a simple notebook and pen would do. I would definitely recommend journaling the traditional way with a pen and paper and not on your phone. Psychologists have determined that writing things out by hand improves memory and encourages deeper thinking and reflection.
Your words do not have to be perfect or sound like a perfectly crafted novel. You are not writing for the Pulitzer Prize in Fiction. No one is going to read your journal. Also, there are no right words. Just let your thoughts flow on paper.
In addition, it is important that you schedule time to journal, especially when you are attempting to make it a part of you. 3 to 5 minutes daily or every other day is okay at first or however long you find yourself writing words on paper.
And if you find yourself glaring at a blank page with a pen tightly clenched between you fingers for the longest time with nothing to write, start by writing down 5 things you are grateful for or 5 important lessons you have learned in the past week/month. Or simply write an open and honest letter to yourself, or perhaps a loved one you have been meaning to connect with or even a loved one lost.
I hope this was helpful for you. If you have started journaling, please share with me in the comment section, the benefits you have gained or hope to gain from keeping a journal!
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