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If you’re new to journaling, you’re probably wondering what all the hype is about. Well, if you’ve done any research at all so far, I’m sure you’ve found many journaling topics that made you wonder, like journaling techniques, how to journal for self-improvement or how to journal your feelings. And this has probably got you wondering how journaling works or how it’s “supposed to work.” Can journaling really help you create a better life?
Did you ever try keeping a journal as a kid? I remember having a diary and it being so cool.
Journaling was a great way for me to vent and get my thoughts and crazy feelings out of my head. I didn’t know it then, but journaling helped me work through tough situations and freed up space for me to focus on other things that actually made me happy.
As I’ve gotten older, I’ve realized that we might not always have someone to turn to in an hour of need. You know, when we feel like venting or just letting off some steam.
Sometimes we just need someone to listen and understand. In this case, journaling has become my go to when life gets moving so fast I can’t keep up. When I don’t feel like I have anyone to turn to or if I find it too difficult to say whatever “it” is out loud, I know I can turn to my handy dandy journal to help me work through it.
Now, enough about me and my journaling fetish. I am going to show you why journaling is important and how to get started journaling. You’re going to be ready to jump into your own journaling experience by the end of this post, so don’t skip the journaling tips and techniques.
Benefits of Keeping a Journal
There are just so many benefits to keeping a journal! I know, I know. Journaling’s my jam! Hopefully, you’ll be just as enthused once you learn the benefits of keeping a journal. So, here’s my list of top journaling benefits.
What is mindfulness? Well, I have read numerous definitions of mindfulness, and this is what it boils down to. Mindfulness is a state of being fully aware of your thoughts, emotions, and the current experience you’re in.
Sometimes we get in such a routine of daily living that we’re constantly running on autopilot. We go through the day completing the same tasks we did yesterday, and before we know it, it’s time for bed again, and we don’t have a recollection of half the events we were present for most of the day.
When you journal regularly it increases mindfulness which allows you to be more aware of specific actions, feelings and triggers you have, so you can correct them in the moment or create better habits for the future. It also reminds us to be more present in the moment instead of letting life roll right by us.
2. Self-reflection & Self-identity
Have you ever wondered how you got to where you are today? Do you find yourself feeling out of sorts and not being able to recognize yourself anymore? Journaling can help with this.
We all get caught up in life sometimes, just going through the motions. We forget why we started doing what we’re doing in the first place. Then, you feel overwhelmed by the thought of starting something new or wondering if this is still right for you.
When you lose your since of self, having a daily journal practice is a great way to rediscover what is most important to you. It can help you think through your current situation and make new plans for the future.
3. Boost Creativity
If you find yourself feeling stuck and lacking new ideas, or if you can’t work out a new idea in your head, journaling can help you get unstuck. For a creativity boost, free style writing is the best.
Sit down and just write. Write your feelings, write about your current mood, write about whatever comes to mind. If you’re trying to flesh out a new idea for a project, write down every word that comes to mind when you think of your topic. This will definitely get the juices flowing. And did you know, expressive writing boosts health? Yep, you can read more on that here.
4. Track Mental Health
Trying to cope with mental health issues is a large task. It’s hard to know what you’re doing, much less, where you’ve been. When you’re on your journey to bettering your mental state, keeping a journal is a great way to check on your status and reflect on how far you’ve come from where you began.
5. Healing & Overcoming Grief
Everyone has difficult experiences to go through in life, and we don’t always have the right person there to help us process it. Being able to write down your true feelings, emotions and point of view without judgement can help you move through hard feelings and grief. It’s not easy, no matter your outlet, but feeling heard can help tremendously.
6. Reduce Stress & Anxiety
Like many, I have struggled with depression and anxiety. I have this way of getting myself all stressed out and overthinking my busy life that it causes anxiety. The anxiety then paralyzes me, and I get depressed because I feel useless and unproductive. It’s a never-ending cycle. But journaling has helped in so many ways. The biggest is helping me manage my anxiety.
When I can write down everything that’s going on in this crazy-busy world of mine, it helps me to prioritize and see things as they are, rather than a jumbled up mess in my head.
How to Start Journaling
Now that you know all the wonderful benefits of journaling, you’re probably wondering how to actually start journaling. What do you need to get started journaling? Do you have all the journaling supplies you need?
The truth is, you can get started journaling right now, right where you are, with just a pen and piece of paper. (Well, maybe don’t do that if you’re driving or flying a plane, or operating any kind of heavy machinery.)
My point is, it’s super easy to get started, but I’m going to list a few things that will make the journaling process easier and more enjoyable for you.
So, here are the things you’ll need to get started journaling.
- The Essentials: Paper and pen are really all the material things you need to get started. You really don’t even have to have pen and paper. These days you can journal in the Notes section in your phone if it’s convenient for you. Oh, and they have dedicated apps for this now, too.
- A Quiet, Relaxing Place – You should be able to focus on your thoughts and what’s in front of you. Avoid distractions.
- A Journaling Schedule – For this to work, you’ll need to make a commitment and schedule it into your routine. No, you don’t have to actually put it on paper if you’re not the planner type.
- Honesty & Privacy – For journaling to be most effective, remember to stay honest on paper and keep your entries private. Sometimes we have a tendency to want to share with others, but these are some of our deepest thoughts and you need to feel like it’s protected and safe from scrutiny.
Journaling Techniques for Beginners
…And Some Other Awesome Tips for Keeping a Journal
Write like you talk & don’t edit yourself
This is an important thing to remember when you’re writing in your journal. Remember, the journal is your personal diary. It’s for your eyes only. You’re not trying to impress anyone with your fancy writing skills. This is one time you get to throw punctuation and grammar out the window.
write for you
Again, you’re not trying to impress anyone. You shouldn’t plan to share your journal with anyone else. It needs to be private and for you only. Write about what you want. Write it in a way that you understand. Write your true feelings, and don’t hide your true self. This is your time for honest reflection.
Ever heard, “practice makes perfect?” Well, I’m not sure what perfect journaling looks like, but the more consistent you are with journaling, the sooner all those wonderful benefits will start showing through. It’s best practice to journal daily, but not everyone can manage that. Try out different times of the day to see what works best for you and try your best to stick to it.
make it yours
Doodle, scribble, highlight, underline. You can do whatever you want. It’s yours. Make it your own and be proud. Your journal really is a reflection of your most inner thoughts and feelings. It’s a big part of you.
Lists can work wonders, trust me. My favorite type of list to use in my journal is a gratitude list. You simply make a list of the things you’re grateful for. You can elaborate by writing why each thing is important to you and why you’re so grateful for it.
Lists also help you work through and prioritize bigger tasks, which is a life saver when it comes to managing anxiety.
end on a positive note
This is a journaling technique that actually came naturally to me. I would find myself starting off my journal entry with how horrible my day was or why I was in the worst mood. But, by the end of my journal entry, I would be reflecting on why I felt the way I did.
Then, I write a positive action item or a positive lesson I learned from the experience. You should definitely try it. Ending on a positive note, helps you release the negative feelings you had when you started.
start with meditation
When you take time to focus your thoughts and sit in your feelings before journaling, you’ll be surprised how much better it feels to write. It becomes more meaningful and the words flows easier. You have more to say, and you’re able to express yourself on a deeper level.
If you’re not into meditation, I completely understand. Maybe it’s too “woo woo” for you. I used to feel the same way. It was strange to think of myself in such an unfamiliar state. But if you don’t know much about meditation, I urge you to give it a try. If you’re open to new ideas, you might decide you actually like it.
don’t judge yourself
This one is easier said than done for me. I’ve always had a habit of comparing and judging myself and everything around me. So, in turn, I tend to edit myself as I’m writing. The more I journal the better I get at being able to just write what I’m thinking without reading it back to myself.
Writing in a constant flow without overthinking and re-reading your written words is key to being successful at journaling. The best time to read your journal entries is when you’re trying to reflect on progress you’ve made.
keep your journal with you
Keeping my journal with me has been such a life saver. You never know when you’ll need an outlet of expression, and a journal is the easiest place to turn when you need to get it all out. In fact, just yesterday I pulled out my journal at work and made a quick entry. There was just something I needed to work through, and I couldn’t work it all out in my head.
date every entry
Going back to reflecting on your progress, dating your journal entries is a great way to track your personal progress. Life’s busy and it’s easy to forget what we had for lunch today, much less the date we first started our journal or decided to change our career path. After a while, everything starts to run together, so do yourself a favor and keep a good record of events and dates.
The Benefits and Importance of Journaling Your Feelings
I could talk about this for hours, but here’s a recap of some of the most important reasons you should journal daily.
- Journaling improves your mental health by giving you an outlet for things that stress you out, in turn, reducing anxiety.
- Journaling helps to regulate your emotions and boosts your mood by helping you get all the toxic thoughts and feelings out.
- Journaling helps build relationships by helping you work through your feelings and being able to see the other person’s point of view.
- Journaling increases mindfulness which allows you to be more aware of specific actions, feelings and triggers you have, so you can correct them or create better habits.
- Journaling also helps you learn from your experiences by being able to go back and read through past experiences, providing you the opportunity to have a different perspective or evaluate how you might do things differently in the future.
- Another great benefit of journaling is better sleep. That’s right. If you have trouble sleeping due to your to do list running through your head, journaling before bed can help you release tension by getting everything on paper for you to visually see and make a plan for.
What makes journaling important for you?
I know it’s a lot to take in, but journaling shouldn’t be overwhelming. You’re not expected to jump in and be the best journalist in American history. You just need to be able to be vulnerable and open-minded. Decide what’s important to you and let that be the reason you choose to journal on the regular.
If you have any questions about journaling, leave them in the comments below.