Journaling, or simply putting your thoughts to paper, can be a healing, therapeutic experience. It may be difficult to find the time to record your day, but the positive effects are so worth the ten minutes it’ll take.
Putting pen to paper may help you let go of some of the thoughts that may be troubling you and this is a surefire way to relieve stress. Journaling allows for proper self-reflection, and may even result in you getting to know yourself a little better.
Some of history’s most notable names spent hours of their time transcribing their thoughts. Some of the most famous wave-makers to keep journals include Isaac Newton, Abraham Lincoln, Andy Warhol, Leonardo Da Vinci, Charles Darwin, Winston Churchill, Benjamin Franklin, Ernest Hemingway, George Bernard Shaw and Maya Angelou.
American entrepreneur, Jim Rohn, notes: “If you’re serious about becoming a wealthy, powerful, sophisticated, healthy, influential, cultured, and unique individual, keep a journal.”
Why? Well, a journal is a space for exploration of yourself, your ideas, and the world around you. It’s a space that’s judgement-free and private. So scribbling your observations and innermost thoughts can be cathartic and safe.
Get rid of mental clutter
When you start journaling, you’ll observe that you tend to record your most prominent or urgent thoughts / events first. To write down your most important thoughts might give you a sense of focus.
When you focus on what’s important, your mental clutter (small issues and distractions) can be left by the wayside. This might provide you with some perspective. Sometimes the issues we think are insurmountable simply aren’t so… And by writing them down, you might come to this realisation a lot sooner.
Your journaling may take the form of keywords or whole paragraphs about what’s happening around you. There’s no perfect way to journal. You have to find a way that’s comfortable for you. All that matters is that you take a few minutes daily to focus on yourself and where you’re at. All while shaking off that pesky mental clutter and mental background noise.
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Stay focused and stick to your goals
Almost everyone wants to get fitter, eat healthier, spend less time on their phone, and get outdoors a bit more. But these are often easier said than done. The rush of real life soon catches up with us and it may just seem that giving up on our goals would be easier than sticking to them.
This is where journaling comes in. It’s a way to keep yourself accountable. Making your goals real by writing them down might just help you stick to them. Especially if you break them up into manageable pieces.
For example: you want to run a 5km in three weeks’ time. It’s way less intimidating to prepare when you break this run up during your training phase, starting with goals like “Run 1km today”. Set yourself these goals in your journal, and triumphantly strike them off your To Do list at the end of the day.
Recording your goals and aspirations in your journal will help them feel real and achievable. They’ll seem within reach and you’ll already be well on your way to achieving them just by making them ‘real’.
Make it your creative outlet
Feeling stifled? Bored? Creatively blocked? Journaling to the rescue! It’s relatively cheap, compared to some other hobbies, and can be done on the fly. There’s no major set-up necessary and you hardly need to don a smock. You can even keep your journal with you in your handbag and record your thoughts during the day.
A major trend on social media is bullet journaling. This involves playing with images, fonts, stickers, sketches and scribbles as you journal. It’s a way to transform your journal visually through interesting layouts and pops of colour.
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This is obviously more time-consuming, but it can be loads of fun. You can also use this to incorporate some of your other hobbies like collaging, scrap-booking or water colour painting.
This creative flow will also keep you distracted from mindless scrolling and hours of TV. Instead of wating time on things that ultimately never fulfill you, you can get lost in this creative project.
Many studies have shown that journaling goes a long way in alleviating stress. Some of the psychological benefits include:
- Releasing pent-up thoughts and emotions
- Bridging inner thinking with outer events
- Disentangling confusing thoughts and ideas
- Focusing and clarifying your desires and needs
- Measuring and tracking what’s important to you
- Building self-confidence and self-knowledge
- Helping you see yourself as an individual
- Offering a deeper level of learning, order, action and release
Start small. Big changes start with tiny steps. While the colours and fonts are pretty, they aren’t really necessary. All you really need is a pen and a notebook. This small habit has the potential to change how you see yourself, how you express your feelings, and how you live your life.
It can start with just a few minutes every day. Reflect on how you’re feeling, what’s occupied your mind all day, and what you’d want to improve on for tomorrow. These small notes will provide you will a frame of reference and perspective. So what’s stopping you?