What would normally come to mind if I suggested that you keep a journal? ‘Dear Diary…’? It’s a bit American High School movie, isn’t it? We may consider journal keeping as the activity of an angst-stricken teenage girl – but what if that teenager was onto something? Keeping a journal is simply the articulation of certain events, emotions, thoughts and feelings into written words. The benefits of keeping a journal range from clearing your headspace after a busy day to improving your mental and physical health.
‘Keeping a journal of what’s going on in your life is a good way to help you distil what’s important and what’s not’
Journaling is a great way to practice mindfulness and with mindfulness often comes happiness. Dedicating some time each day to write in a journal is a way of bringing your mind to attention, rather than passively going through your day, allowing your mind to wander and linger on stressful situations. You actively engage, clarify and focus your mind on what is most important to you. Having the correct headspace improves mental wellbeing
One of the key benefits of journaling is the ability to recognise and identify your emotions. When you become aware of your emotions it is a lot easier not only to control but to also express them. As a result, you begin to understand other people with a higher level of empathy. This kind of emotional intelligence can be critical to helping you develop and improve your personal relationships.
Scientific studies have shown not only is journaling very cathartic, it can help us heal psychologically too. A study in the academic journal Advances in Psychiatric Treatment reported that just 15-20 minutes on 3-5 occasions was enough to help the participants cope better with traumatic, stressful or emotional events when they wrote specifically about them: ‘Those who do so generally have significantly better physical and psychological outcomes compared to those who write about neutral topics.’
‘In moments of ecstasy, in moments of despair, the journal remains an impassive, silent friend, forever ready to coach, to confront, to critique and console.’
When we are stressed we often find it hard to order and organise our thoughts: it can be incredibly overwhelming to be in our heads during stressful times. When we write things down it immediately becomes easier to grasp and many people find this incredibly liberating. The emotional release we get from keeping a journal can significantly help lower anxiety and stress, and help us cope with life in a more effective manner.
In her blog A Touch of Grace, Tiffany talks about how journaling has helped her achieve her goals. By writing down her goals, a plan on how to achieve them and tracking her progress in her journal she was able to achieve things she never thought she would be able to and advises ‘Write down things that pertain to these goals and dreams and you’ll start to focus on them in a positive light and consciously (or subconsciously) they will start to manifest’.
It’s amazing how something so simple can have such a big impact on your life.