Maintaining a diary is usually synonymous with teenagers pouring out line after line about the miseries of growing up. Even though many of us give up that habit as we ease into adulthood, the concept and all its benefits still apply. It’s called journaling.
Here are a few reasons why you should start journaling today.
1. Evoking Mindfulness
It has long been established that there is a strong connection between happiness and mindfulness. The habit of journaling regularly brings you into that state of mindfulness; the basic human ability to be fully in the present, be aware of where we are and what we’re doing, and not get too overwhelmed by what’s going on around us. Every time you write down your thoughts and feelings, past regrets, and future anxieties don’t seem as much a burden as you thought them to be. Journaling has this undeniable power to pull a wandering mind into the moment, forcing it to actively engage with your thoughts.
2. Achieving Goals
Writing your goals down in your journal sends reminders to your brain that “this is important”. This fuels your brain to flag down ways in which you can achieve your goals. The more you journal in detail about your goals, the better the psychological blueprint, and the better your chances of successfully accomplishing them.
3. Emotional Intelligence
Journaling opens up an outlet for processing and analyzing emotions and fuels self-awareness. This familiarity with one’s inner self generates the ability to empathize – to be able to better understand what others around you are feeling.
This ability to perceive and manage your emotions and that of the people around you is a mark of emotional intelligence and helps you connect with yourself and others on a much deeper level.
The emotional release one experiences from journaling aids in lowering stress, anxiety, and induces better sleep.1
This is because expressive writing is a pathway to emotional, physical, and psychological healing. When you write down your feelings and emotions, you’re able to translate something intangible into a language that makes things easier to grasp. This way, you are able to free yourself from getting too tangled up in your thoughts.
5. Sparking Creativity
Contrary to popular belief, our struggle as humans isn’t whether we’re creative or not, it’s how to allow it to flow.
Experts recommend to simply write without thinking or censoring oneself. Apart from overcoming writer’s block, the habit of regular conscious writing brings out ideas, thoughts, and sometimes even feelings you never knew you had in yourself. This helps in opening up brand new channels of thought in your mind and helps expand your thinking.
Journaling about something that made you proud of yourself allows your brain to relive it in the future. Anytime you suffer from those nasty pangs of self-doubt, all you need to do is go back a few pages and read through the memories of that moment. This will induce the release of endorphins and dopamine which will further boost your mood and self-esteem. Entries of this kind can become a collection of personal achievements and proud moments that you can keep going back to.
7. Easier Problem Solving
It’s not unnatural for your mind to be at the mercy of a vast deluge of thoughts. Journaling on a regular basis helps to get this jumble of thoughts, feelings, or tasks out of your head and onto some paper so you can organize them. This helps clear your head of all the clutter and bring in more clarity as to what the problem at hand really is. Once this is clear, finding a solution is quite easy.
Top 8 Different Types Of Journals To Start Writing And Why
People usually have a variety of reasons to journal. Some may want to record their progress, some may want to record memories, some may simply want to maintain a gratitude journal to remind themselves to count the blessings they would otherwise take for granted. Here are a few of the most popular kinds of journals that people keep and why.
- Memory Journal – This particular type of journal aids in recollection of some of your life’s best and worst events that would’ve otherwise faded over the years. Keeping this sort of a journal often helps us relive fond memories or feel proud of ourselves for having come so far in life, be it on the personal or the career front.
- Food Journal – Keeping a food diary can help you track what you eat and drink so you can stay motivated to stick to your diet and achieve your goals. For those suffering from food sensitivities and allergies, keeping a food journal helps to record foods that could be possible triggers, so that it’s easier to zero in on what the allergen is. To reap the benefits of a food journal, write down the foods that you eat for every snack or meal, the portion size, ingredients used for preparing meals, and the beverages you consumed.
- Fitness Journal – Be it for weight loss or for gaining muscle mass, maintaining an exercise journal helps a person keep track of progress and see firsthand if he or she is sticking to a steady exercise routine.
- Gratitude Journal – It’s very easy to take certain blessings in our life for granted, and keeping a gratitude journal helps you focus your mind on the things you have to be grateful for. The best way to do this is to list out five things that you’re thankful for each morning before you start your day. This will help you focus your mind less on the negative and more on the positive.
- Recovery Journal – Journaling can be particularly useful if you’re struggling with a mental health disorder or an addiction. Like every other kind of journal, this works the best when you’re honest with yourself. Writing about your temptations, your ability or disability to successfully control your urges, and about triggers, can help organizes your life, make you more introspective and can help slow down the urgency of craving for a particular behavior or drug.
As you start to incorporate journaling into your daily routine, remember that patience and consistency are key in forming new habits before you’re able to start reaping the benefits. Start small, by writing thrice a week either first thing after you wake up or before retiring to bed for the night. Once you get used to this habit, you can start journaling on a daily basis at a particular time of your choice.
Look forward to your writing time as “me time” – when you can de-stress. Choose a corner that’s relaxing and comforting, sip a cup of your favorite tea and take your time. You’re choosing to do something that is going to help declutter your mind and body and establish order even on the most chaotic of days. Over time, you’ll start looking to your journal as an all-accepting, nonjudgmental friend who may provide the cheapest therapy you can ever get!