Before I started this journey, I imagined journaling as scribbling down notes about your high-school sweetheart, something in the form of ‘Dear diary’. It sounds familiar, doesn’t it?
Many people feel this way, but I know now that writing a journal is nothing like it. It isn’t a place where you just write down words without a purpose, nor it is a tool you use without any value. For all of us who love to write on daily basis, knowing about the benefits that come with journaling can bring on much satisfaction.
I understood this sooner than anyone could anticipate – combining a pen and a paper is a powerful tool for learning and improving your life. It might seem ridiculous or impossible when you say it, but this ancient tradition most certainly did me a difference.
When you consider that most of the successful people known throughout history kept their journals, it is obvious that there is something in this activity. Some did this for posterity, while others chose to keep a journal for a personal reason.
Oscar Wilde once said: ‘’I never travel without my diary. One should always have something sensational to read on the train.’’
Journaling Has Health Benefits?
Journaling is known as beneficial, especially to those who suffer from disorders such as eating disorder or bipolar disorder. It is also known to be an effective stress management tool, therefore aiding people who suffer from depression, and even schizophrenia.
Knowing what you know now, aren’t you a bit more intrigued about this? I was amazed to hear this at first, because who can expect that writing things down can have such effects on people?
I recently spoke to a friend who works for a writing service. He actually did journaling on the side, even though he had to do writing for hours for work every single day. ‘’I feel a need to write in my own journal’’ – he said to me. ‘’This sounds weird to people who can’t wait to leave work and get some time off, but I don’t see journaling as the regular writings I do at work. I see journaling as a way to get rid of the tiredness and stress’’.
And it isn’t only him that does this. If you think about it, people seem to use journaling for everything. They keep track of their diet to lose weight by writing down in a food journal. They release their negative thoughts in writing to relieve stress and anxiety. Others always write things down so that they don’t forget about them – it appears that writing things down improves the memory, too!
Knowing what I knew at this point, I just had to try it out. Call it a personal deformation, but as a writer, I risked to add more writing hours just for the fun of it.
And guess what? My friend turned out to be perfectly right – it is nothing like work!
What Journaling Did for Me
The act of writing things down influences the left part of the brain, i.e. the rational and analytical part. When you occupy this part of your brain, the other side is free to feel and create, removing all those mental blocks it cannot overcome throughout the day. Basically, writing allows people to use their full power to express their feelings and understanding of the world around them. In my case, here is what journaling did for me:
Clarified Feelings and Thoughts
I used to feel messed up inside most of the time, unsure of what I want to do or what I am feeling. The world is overwhelming and all those unexpected things just jumbled my brain. When I finally sat down and started jotting things down, everything seemed clearer. Journaling did not require careful writing or the dreaded editing phase – all I did was write things down without worrying about the format or style. It certainly helped me reach some clarification.
Getting to Know Myself
Journaling told me things I didn’t pay any attention to before – things that I did and thought regularly, but didn’t pay attention to whatsoever. When I wrote routinely about what makes me confident or happy, I learned much more about myself than I ever knew. I now find it easier to detect what’s good and bad for me – even what people make me feel better, and what people are toxic for me!
Reducing Stress Levels
I have a busy schedule and a stressful life, same as almost every person on this planet. As such, I often found myself writing about things that made me angry or sad. It didn’t just help me release the stress and intensity these feelings had, but also made me feel calmer and more patient.
Solving Problems Faster
You’d be surprised on how many details and options you miss out on when you rush to solve a problem. When you start writing things down, you become more analytical. I find that journaling often gives me answers I couldn’t find otherwise. I actually solved some long-lasting problems as a result of this!
Talk about misunderstandings! When you think about a discussion that went wrong with someone, you hold your own side of the argument. But, when you write things down, you have to write it all. This is when all those misunderstandings come to the surface. I find journaling to provide me with great resolutions to conflicts I cannot solve otherwise.
Evoking a State of Mindfulness
Journaling helped me overcome the anxieties and frustrations, at least for the present moment. When you write things down, you forget about the negative thoughts, especially if you decide to write about good things only.
Pursuing and Achieving Goals
Some goals seem impossible at first, but not if you have a written blueprint. This is what I call journaling – a blueprint for my goals. When I have something in mind, writing it down helps me understand and plan for it more effectively.
Have you heard of emotional intelligence? This is an ability to manage and perceive your own emotions, as well as the emotions of other people. If you use journaling as such an outlet, this increases your self-awareness and helps you process the emotions. As a result, managing them is much easier.
Boost in Comprehension and Memory
The hand and the brain are connected, at least for me as a writer. When I spark my brain by composing ideas and thoughts in the form of writing, I find myself more comprehensive about the things I am writing about. Moreover, noting things down always improves my memory.
When I feel down because something sad happened, I write about it. Journaling seems to help me with the emotional pain. It is similar to speaking with someone. For me, it is even better – I don’t feel comfortable talking about personal problems with strangers, so this is the perfect alternative to cope with my own traumas.
If I’ve convinced you to introduce journaling into your life, I’d recommend that you take it one step at a time. You won’t find these benefits right away – they come gradually and will be much appreciated. Start slowly but persistently – journaling will change your life!
Maisie is a freelance writer who contributes for a variety of sites. According to her, writing comes with benefits that cannot be listed on a piece of paper, since she’d ‘always have something new to place there’. Everyone knows her as the girl who takes out the journal from her bag a dozen times every day, noting down things no one really knows what they are about. With her busy career it is no wonder she has so much inspiration and wisdom to share in writing.
If you want to learn how journaling can help you tackle life's challenges and focus on the positives in your life, please download the free eBook, The Journaling Guide to Manage The Stress and Strains of Life.