Anyone who knows me, will know that I love to write. I don’t write very eloquently or about anything important, I just write. I find a random notebook and pen and write a constant stream of consciousness until I have nothing more to say. This is called journaling. I try to journal every day, but with how hectic life has been recently, I sometimes forget about it or intentionally skip a day, which is fine. I started the habit of trying to daily journal during the first national lockdown as a way to fill my endless days. I used it as a way of documenting this crazy time in my life and I got really creative by sticking in letters, news articles or pictures of the things going on in the world and my boring lockdown adventures. For me, this was a huge coping mechanism. So once lockdown lifted and I returned to my university city, I was very tempted to give it up and return to my usual ways but I knew how much better journaling made me feel so I continued the habit – and I am so glad I did! For me, journaling encourages growth and mindfulness and allows me to explore my thoughts and feelings in a healthy way. This blog post is not going to be filled with facts and research (that sounds like too much like an essay for my liking) but instead it will be about my personal experience with daily journaling and the direct benefits I have seen in my own life.
The first benefit of journaling on my life is that it has reduced my stress. I personally like to journal in the evenings as a form pre-sleep meditation when I have had a particularly stressful or busy day. By writing down all my thoughts and feelings, I eliminate all the overwhelming anxiety and stress I may be feeling and allows me to actually explore my emotions in a healthy way providing me with a certain amount of emotional healing. Additionally, through this I have become much more intune with my mental health needs as I am able to identify my emotions and triggers and I have connected with my desires, overall, improving my mental well-being.
Similarly, getting all my thoughts and feelings down on paper puts me in a much lighter and brighter mood and brings a huge wave of relief. A way I ensure I have a great day, is to journal about what I am grateful for. I open up my notebook and simply list things that will make that great day or things I am so lucky to have in my life. Or if I have had a particularly rough day, I will reflect on my day to find the things that made me smile. This isn’t about toxic positivity or forcing yourself to see the world glass-half-full, it simple reminds me all the amazing things in my life and helps me remain present while keeping perspective. Like Ferris Bueller once said, “life moves pretty fast, if you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.” If you struggle with checking in on yourself and often ignore how you are feeling, I would suggest not only starting to implement journaling into your daily routine but also setting up a mood tracker. This can be on a random piece of paper, on your phone or in a journal but the idea is that you intentionally reflect on your mood and understand how you are feeling and why. This mindfulness has also improved my self-identity and in turn I have become more confident in who I am, which is something everyone should have the privilege of feeling.
Journaling has also improved my memory. Just like anything else you write down, whether it is your grocery list or your dentist appointment, your brain will make stronger connections with the information you write down, making it easier for you to recall in the future. This isn’t just about knowing what you did last thursday, it’s about learning who you are and what things have what affects on your mind and body. Even if you find that the act of journaling does not keep your memory sharp, in doing so you now have, and always will have if you take good care of them, written documents of your life. This means you can reread them however many times you want to see your personal growth and you can pass them onto future family members so you can be remembered in many generations to come. I think that is a wholesome and comforting thought, after all, everyone is looking for a way to create their legacy.
Apart from tangible benefits like reducing stress, improved mindfulness and sharpened memory, journaling unlocks my creative side which is a good enough reason than any to continue with it. On one hand it stimulates my mental creativeness such as my writing and communication skill, while on the other hand it stimulates my physical creativeness such as drawing, decorating and design. I love to use creative tools such as washi tape, craft paper, coloured pens, stamps and highlighters to make my journal truly a representation of me. I use these tools to create doodles, draw tables for mood or habit trackers and spaces for me to keep a list of all my genius ideas.I also include any letters or cards I get sent, cinema or concert tickets, train tickets and so much more to add a personal and special touch. Everyone has the potential to be creative, some people just haven’t discovered what works best for them – maybe journaling is for you? That being said, you definitely don’t need to be an artist to be able to journal. Journaling is about expressing yourself, and if you do that through bright colours and collages then so be it, and if you don’t then that is okay too because you will still reap plenty of other benefits from daily journaling!
If you don’t journal, take this as your sign to give it a go. You don’t need to buy fancy stationery to start, just find anything you can write with and on, even if that is the back of a receipt with your kids crayon, we all need to start somewhere. You also don’t need to do it everyday, only doing it once a week will bring you much clarity. If you don’t know where to start, I suggest keeping a gratitude journal, where you just reflect on everything you are grateful for. You don’t need to write pages and pages or carve out a huge chunk of time, even if you only write one thing before you go to sleep, then you have journaled. Is there any other daily journalers out there? If so, what are some of the benefits you have personally seen from journalling and what advice would you give beginners wanting to start?
P.s. off to journal now 🙂