The power of journaling

What is journaling?

The basic idea is that you record your thoughts, emotions and experiences. Normally this is done daily in a book. The act of writing things down encourages the information to be stored more effectively in your memory.

Why journal? Is it right for you?

Writing down your thoughts right before sleep can help to release your brain from the noise of the day. Or you might like to keep record of exciting or happy memories. For example, I have a memory that I wrote in 3 separate journals because it was so exciting at the time. At the age of 10 I watched a dog give birth to a litter of puppies. In my first 10 years of life that was the most amazing thing I had ever experienced and I needed to record it. Eventually my young mind started worrying I would forget my memories and made sure to journal all my family holidays and various events in my life. Now in my 30s I gladly live mindfully in the moment without fear of forgetting the past. We do not need to be attached to our past in a way that affects our mental health negatively.

Writing things down can help you to let some difficult emotions go. Once the thoughts and fears are set out on the page in front of you they don’t seem so big and overwhelming. And bonus, you don’t feel the pressure to keep the thoughts and memories in your head because they’re recorded for you already. That takes a lot of stress off your brain.

According to various articles from psychological research there are positive and negative outcomes to journaling. It can either help you understand yourself in relation to others or it can hinder your self discovery journey if you only concentrate on “yourself in isolation”. The results of a collection of research articles include the following positive and negative outcomes of journaling.

The pros of journaling

  • Encourages you to evaluate your reactions and emotions
    • Identify action vs reaction. Reaction is what we do with our “monkey brain” when we act on impulse without consideration.
  • Allows you to find resolutions to open issues
    • You can see all aspects of a problem when it’s written out in front of you.
  • Clarifies your views and motivations.
  • Focuses your negative energy into creativity and positivity.
  • Increases your tolerance of change and unpredictable or unexpected situations.
  • Improves mental health by making you feel more connected to the world around you.
  • Helps you define your goals and encourages action through motivation.

The cons of journaling

  • Causes negative rumination
    • You live within your own negative thoughts.
  • Prevents you from living in the moment
    • You begin to focus on how you’ll record your life events instead of experiencing them.
  • Makes you become egocentric and obsessed with your needs.
  • Allows you to blame the situations around you but not come to any positive conclusions.
  • Prevent resilience by encouraging thoughts to remain on negative experiences.

Maintaining the habit of journaling regularly can be a challenge. Although it becomes easy once it becomes part of your daily routine. Encourage yourself to keep at it by making it a fun and rewarding experience. Use different coloured pens and highlighters to really engage with your journal pages. I have an old sticker collection from my youth that I’m re-purposing in my journals, cards, labels and craft. Some are those holographic stickers from the 90s, they really jazz up a sparse journal page.

Thanks so much for reading! Comment below with your journal experiences. Or share your tips and hints to make the most of our journaling journey.

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