Raise your hand if you have a collection of old journals stashed throughout your home! Blank or written in, gifted or acquired in a fit of inspiration, a lot of people tote around a collection of notebooks too cherished to part with. Some date back to our earliest days, when we first learned how to write. Why? It’s not easy to part with anything that gives us a sense of nostalgia. There's also something about reading what was written during a different time in our lives.
However old school it might be, journaling is not a thing of the past! No longer thought of as an old fashioned pastime, journaling is making a swift and welcomed comeback. Both enjoyable and effective in harnessing scattered thoughts, there are surprising benefits you currently might not be aware of. These benefits will make any curious person race for the closest diary. Already an avid journaler? Surely these perks will make you devote even more time to your practice!
Boost and Improve Your Memory
Memory has always been a tricky little thing. For some, memory recollection is innate and dependable. For the rest of us (most of us if we’re being honest,) our short-term memory is stronger than our long-term. We wish long-term memories didn’t escape us the way they so often do! That’s where journaling has been proven to come in handy. A thought is slowed down because it’s at the mercy of the pace set by your hand. Even the quickest writers are not as fast as the racing mind. By slowing the thought process down and breaking it into word-for-word chewable bites, the thought or memory being journaled is recorded to the brain’s memory bank more effectively.
Regulate Emotions by Evoking Mindfulness
It would be very rare to come across someone who doesn’t want to get better at managing their emotions. Truth be told, it’s difficult to practice mindfulness. It’s difficult to let an emotion exist without it running rampant. It’s difficult to consistently operate from a place of control. “If we could, we would!,” right? Well, journaling says you can. At least better than before. Journaling has been widely recognized as an effective emotional regulation strategy. When an emotion is journaled, put underneath a microscope and evaluated with great care, the volume of it’s intensity gets turned down. The emotion becomes more objective and the feelings, whether good or bad, diffuse with greater ease.
A sigh of relief is not uncommon after a nurturing journaling session. When our thoughts are inscribed somewhere safe, we feel like we’re more free. Feeling more sense of freedom makes space for the ever-occurring present. Put a journaling practice to good use and allow it to help you live more in the moment.
Enhance Your Writing Skills
Ever read a poem that was able to cut right to the heart? Something about the words that were used. The way they were arranged on the page. Even the intentional placement of a period or a comma just seemed so perfect. So much so, it lights an inspirational spark, driving you to take a whack at a poem. Away and away you and the pen go and soon, the poem is complete. You read it back to yourself and… well, it was alright. It could definitely be a lot better. With practice, you think it could be great.
You’re not wrong and a journal is a great way to start! When you are in writing mode, spelling correction, grammar placement, and brushing up on the principles of writing is like doing reps at the gym. One day, you’re stronger and are able to add weight to the stack. Journaling to improve your writing skills is no different. You’ll be surprised at how quickly your writing will impress you. One day, a poem you write will surely pack a great emotional punch. Watch out, Emily Dickinson!
Conquering the art of discipline is not the easiest code to crack. Excuses for lack of deliberateness about our choices and actions is common. Whether it’s a diet that piqued your curiosity or a new workout routine, the first hurdle to overcome is always discipline. Discipline strengthens over time when it’s given proper attention.
One of the easiest and most effective ways to strengthen self-discipline? You guessed it. Journaling. Habits formed in one realm of life tend to spread into others. Journaling is simple, doesn’t require a lot of background know-how, and you can start out with a 5-10 minute practice. With a strong foundation in self-discipline, the scaffolding to other ambitions that require self-discipline appear.
Resolve Disagreements with Others
Journaling has also been proven to be insanely effective in resolving problems or disagreements with others. We’ve all shadowboxed with an opponent in the mind or spent time ruminating over a problem we’ve been faced with. It can be exhausting, dejecting, and downright unhealthy if allowed to go on without resolve. Journaling gives us the power to reorganize and then strategize.
For example, let’s say a coworker said something in an all-staff meeting that rubbed you the wrong way. An unhealthy strategy would be to approach them the next time you saw them and give them a piece of your mind. It could sabotage the relationship or worse, put your employment into question. Obviously, it would be wise to avoid both of those scenarios.
By journaling one's thoughts or emotional sticking points, it’s much easier to dissociate and see the problem from a different perspective. In a journaling session, you can explore all your options. If you need to, you have a safe place to jot down the not-so-pretty thoughts and opinions, getting them out of the way. Perhaps you just want to land on the most rational articulation of your feelings. That’s great! A journal can be your problem solving drawing board. The next time you talk to your coworker, you’re calm and collected. Your coworker adjusts, apologizes, and respects your sense of clarity. That’s going to feel really good, and you’ll have your journal to thank.
Get Your Journaling Practice Up and Running
One of life’s greatest conquests is to create order from chaos. Life is in constant motion and only ever seems to pick up the pace. Navigating the world without tried and true techniques in tow makes things much harder than they have to be. Journaling, and the repetition of journaling, shows up for us in ways we should be grateful for. If you haven’t already made it a part of your life, there’s no greater time to get a journal up and running than today.
It can be a key and locket type journal, safe from the eyes of others. It can be focused on a particular subject matter (chores/to do, free writing, fiction writing, self-care, etc.) Or it can be a more modern approach found online such as Upfinch. Whether you lean towards the more old fashioned style of journaling or the more modern, techy way, it doesn’t matter. Whatever speaks to you will help you reap journaling benefits you never knew until now. Have fun writing!
Author bio: Katie Rutten is an avid snowboarder, reader, and mother to her two adorable cats, Goop and Chester. She believes in the impact of a dedicated journaling practice and what a good cup of tea can do for the soul. Katie is inspired by people who are always going after the truth, but who also don't take themselves too seriously.