Post updated: 10th July 2019
We all know that suppressing our emotions and limiting our thoughts is unhealthy. But how often do we actually release them? Especially if we don’t want to offload our negativity onto other people?
The benefits of journaling are endless. From stress management and increased productivity to simply making your life better, keeping a journal can have all sorts of positive benefits on both your professional and personal life.
What is journaling?
In a way, journaling is anything you need for it to be. It's a way of expressing your thoughts or feelings through writing in a way that helps you to process them, or even release them. It can also be a way of keeping organised professionally in the form of making lists or analysis.
Whether it's for personal or professional purposes, the one link that ties all forms of journaling together is that it's done through writing.
But wait... I'm not a writer?
It doesn't matter. Just like the concept of dancing like nobody's watching, even if you're not a professional dancer (or even if you can't dance at all!), it's the same with writing. Nobody ever has to read it – it's about self-expression. All it takes is the willingness to write exactly what channels through you, and witness how much ease you feel day-to-day doing so.
The reason for this is mindfulness. Journaling allows us to passively engage with our thoughts. It releases frustrations we hold onto from the past and frees us from experiencing anxiety about the future. Most importantly, it’s non-judgemental. This is how keeping a journal can be a lifelong tool for our happiness and wellbeing.
Why you should start journaling
1. It helps you develop a healthy mind
Increased self-awareness and empathy are just some of the many benefits of journaling. It allows us to create internal peace, especially if we have been provoked by an outsider or a situation out of our control. It reminds us to analyse both sides, and it could very well help us resolve a disagreement. By doing so we are able to problem solve more effectively and handle life’s unexpectant moments with more composure.
2. It helps your physical health
The health benefits of journaling are not only limited to the mind. According to research by psychologists James Pennebaker, PhD, of the University of Texas at Austin, and Joshua Smyth, PhD, of Syracuse University – writing about emotions can boost people’s immune system, especially those with illnesses such as asthma and rheumatoid arthritis.
3. It keeps you organised
One of the most beneficial reasons to start journaling is that it helps to keep you organised. A different form of journaling to the type that helps your mental and physical health, keeping a professional journal allows you to manage your schedule and reflect on past learnings. This sort of journaling can be done either physically or digitally.
Getting started with journaling
Author Julia Cameron’s ‘morning pages’ as described in her book The Artist’s Way, has benefited many people who are looking to open up expressively and get their creative juices flowing. Her stream of conscious style requires you to write three pages first thing in the morning which will help you with journaling ideas. It’s believed to bring out thoughts and ideas you never thought you had and for writers especially, helps overcome the common ‘writer's block’.
If you’re looking for journaling techniques to get you started, then Byron Katie’s The Work is a simple yet powerful process of self-inquiry that teaches people to identify and question the thoughts that cause their suffering. The worksheet consists of four questions and turnarounds which help people address their problems with more clarity.
It’s been reported by participants this worksheet improves relationships, reduces stress and increases peace.
Or for those who really like a challenge, take on one of PsychCentral’s 30 Journaling Prompts for Self-Reflection and Self-Discovery.
When in doubt, write it out!