Updated: Aug 12
What are the benefits of journaling? How do you start?
As we navigate through busy timetables, life, unexpected events, last minute changes, external factors that may influence our state of mind and our decisions, there may be little time left for journaling at the end of the day. Visiting William and Dorothy Wordsworth’s cottage in the Lake District, I found it fascinating that curators were able to recreate what life was like in those days by the information gathered from diaries, writing and letters.
Personally, I find journalling challenging - another demand on my time – and yet, I can appreciate the benefits of keeping a journal:
offloading concerns, thoughts and dreams, in a safe space
seeing patterns of behaviour or thoughts that can help the way we shape the future
building self-esteem and resilience
realising how much progress has been made;
having a space to process pain and emotions;
helping with coping with stressful situations or relationships.
I do not always have at hand pen and paper to write down ideas, thoughts or emotions that arise – and that’s the other frustration; if I don’t write them down, I forget them. If I sit down and say to myself: “Now, let’s do some journalling”, inevitably I stare at a blank sheet of paper for some time, waiting for inspiration. So, what to do? How do you start?
· Set yourself a purpose and what you want to gain from journalling. If you are concerned about gaining weight, do you want to journal on nutrition with a view to identify what no longer works for your body? Or perhaps, you want to journal to reflect on activities or situations that have arisen during the day or days past? Or you may want to journal as you are going through a book or training, to reflect on what you have read or done. Or you may want to journal about kind acts or words received from others, and how you appreciate them, or note a kindness done to someone else.
· You could also set yourself a purpose for each week or questions that are particularly bothering you and you would like some answers to. There are Apps that help with prompts if ideas are needed to start you off.
· Be realistic. Identify how often you can journal during a week. In the past I have tried to say to myself that I would journal every day - and failed. Some might prefer to set a timer/alarm on the watch/diary to be reminded that it is time for journalling; some prefer not to. Choose a time when you know you won’t be disturbed or interrupted.
· Do you prefer to handwrite, type or voice record? Do you prefer words or drawings? There are App that translate voice recording into text – they are not perfect and some tweaks to the text may be needed. Word has also an in-built functionality. Seeing our thoughts or emotions in black and white may help establish a sort of detachment from the issue, more clarity and perhaps even more peace of mind.
· Choose a quiet place where you won’t be disturbed, where you can gather your thoughts, perhaps with a hot drink and plenty of natural light – or whatever your favourite spot in your home. Perhaps, writing after a meditation, writing freestyle, with whatever has arisen during the session.
Do you write a journal? Do you have any tips to share? Write them below in the comments if you wish.
And if you decide to start journalling, good luck and let me know how you get on!📓✒️