Here at Journalise, we’re all about journaling. But what is all the buzz about and why should you build it into your daily life? What are the benefits of keeping a journal? How do you get started and how do you journal?
In simple terms, journaling is the practice of keeping a diary or journal – but it’s so much more than just logging what you did on any given day. The real power of a journal comes from being able to write down your positive and negative thoughts and feelings, goals and desires, and passions and fears. A journal provides you with a healthy outlet for expressing yourself, and to learn and gain a better understanding of your inner drivers and triggers.
For this reason, a journal is an excellent self-care tool to help manage your mental health, and the positive effects have been proven. Keeping a journal will help to reduce stress, manage anxiety, and help in coping with depression. This is because it allows you to prioritise your problems, fears and concerns; track any symptoms you are experiencing, which helps in recognising what triggers them and therefore how you may control them; and identify negative thoughts and behaviours, and balance them with positive self-talk and gratitude.
As well as these mental health benefits, research has shown that keeping a journal can help with a whole host of physical health benefits as well.
Given all this, it’s clear that journaling is something we should all be introducing into our lives! So what would you be journaling … well the key types of content for a journal are:
- A Gratitude Journal where each day you list aspects for which you are grateful. This builds a positive mood by focusing on the good that you already have in your life and has been shown to build long-term resilience and works as an excellent aid to relieving stress. You also then have a record of the great things that have happened to you in the past that you can review if you’re ever feeling down in order to boost your mood.
- Emotional Journal of the events that occurred throughout the day, and how you were feeling and responded emotionally throughout. This helps with processing what occurred and allows the exploration of options for dealing with it and finding more positive ways to frame your response. Maximising the positive and good, and managing the negative areas of your daily life, is another excellent way to manage stress.
- Personal planning and Bullet Journaling by using your journal to plan your day and track your short and long-term goals. This will allow you to be more organised, will allow your mind to be less cluttered and more balanced, and again feel less stressed.
Some people will find that practising a combination of all these areas will work for them, for others just 1 or 2 of the above works for them. Work out what you like to log and how you like to record it. What goals do you have, and what thoughts and dreams do you want to explore? Work out your preferred structure, methods etc. Use it as a brain dump, a chance to explore topics, feelings, issues, fear etc. Just write, create lists, mindmap, or simply doodle and colour. There is no right or wrong when journaling – it’s a tool for your personal self-care and you should use it in a way that suits your style and that provides you with the outlet you need.
In the same way, there is no wrong time or way for your journaling habit. Find the time (or times) that work for you and fit into your schedule. Choose when is most convenient or appropriate, and where you are most comfortable and able to commit to it. Ideally, you want to be keeping to a regular schedule if possible and make journaling a regular daily habit, but you also shouldn’t beat yourself up if you miss some days.
Ultimately, there is no wrong way – it’s all about you, what you need and what works for you.
At Journalise we know that getting started with journaling can be scary, especially when faced with a blank piece of paper. This is why we created our Journal 101 which will help you begin your journaling habit and to build a practice that works for you, and that will remain with you forever. It will provide you with ideas, exercises and prompts that will guide you in understanding your needs, goals and emotions. These will help you understand what you like to write about, and how you like to record this information. When you’ve completed this journal, you’ll have a better understanding of your Self, and the confidence to face a blank page in your next journal.
Of course, keep in mind that journaling is just one aspect of a healthy lifestyle for better mental health self-care in managing stress, anxiety, and mental health conditions. To get the most benefits you need a generally balanced and healthy lifestyle, so be sure you also:
- Eat a healthy and balanced diet.
- Exercise regularly—ideally getting some form of activity every day.
- Relax and meditate every day.
- Get plenty of quality sleep each night.
- Avoid alcohol and drugs and limit things like caffeine.
And finally – remember if journaling or any other self-care techniques are not working for you, never be afraid to seek professional help from your doctor, therapist or other mental health practitioners.