Why Keep a Journal?
I often get asked how I manage to stay so consistent with my journaling habit and for me, I have received so many benefits from keeping a journal, that I would now really struggle not to make time for jotting down a few thoughts every day. There have been lots of studies into the benefits of journaling and I will share some of these in my blog post, but I will mainly be sharing my own personal experiences of how journaling has impacted on my life.
Reducing our Stress Levels
There is lots of evidence that getting our thoughts out onto paper can significantly reduce our stress levels. A study from just last year (Sohal, Singh, Dhillon & Gill, 2022) shows that keeping a journal can even help reduce the amount of sick days that people take off work.
I have certainly found that when I am tied up in knots about something, or judging myself harshly, that taking some time to properly reflect in my journal is a great way of gaining a more balanced view on things. I might start off by having a rant and getting all my unfiltered thoughts out, but by the end of the page, I usually feel in a much more balanced frame of mind, often with a new perspective.
Setting Powerful Intentions
Journals can be really helpful when you want to make some changes in your life and actually stick to them. Whenever I have some things I want to change or develop, I start off by writing about the "why" behind what I want to achieve, before I get into the planning stages. I find this a really useful part of the process as it helps to cement the reasons and motivation in my brain. Also, if a few months down the line, I find that I'm letting this change slip backwards, I go back to my intention setting pages and remind myself of why I started the journey.
It Helps Improve Your Memory
A study by The Journal of Experimental Physchology has shown that expressive writing can increase the capacity of your working memory and reduce intrustive thoughts. I also find that our brains are often unfortunately wired to focus on the negative and can easily distort our views on the world. Every evening, I try to spend at least a few minutes jotting down some key things that happened during the day, along with an entry in my gratitude journal. When I read back through my journal entries, sometimes only a week later, I am amazed at how much has already slipped my mind, especially some of those happy little moments.
Learning Important Lessons
Do you ever find that you keep repeating the same poor choices? Taking some time to reflect in your journal and really getting to the bottom of your decision making can definitely help with this. I use my journals to think about the areas where I am holding myself back and then write down some better decisions that I can start making. When I'm then faced with the same situation again, it makes it so much easier to make a better choice.
One of the major benefits that I have personally experienced from keeping a journal, is that it has helped my self-confidence to grow. It's really easy to judge ourselves harshly and think about the things that we didn't get right, but this goes back to our brains just loving to focus in on the negative. When I feel like that now, I take the time to read back through some of my journal entries from the past few years. I am then reminded of the challenges I have overcome, difficult situations that I was able to navigate and lots of my achievements along the way. Over time, I also feel this has helped my brain to keep more of a positive focus too.
Problem Solving & Innovation
As an added bonus, if you choose to bring some creativity into your journal pages, it has been shown that creative play can help to open your mind and boost your problem solving skills. Creativity could be as simple as adding some stickers and washi tape or sticking down some pretty papers, though of course, you can get as creative as you like.
I really hope this blog post has inspired you to either start, or continue with your journaling practice this year. It has brought so many benefits to my life and I would love you to experience that too. It only needs to take you a few minutes a day, but can make such a big difference to your life.
If you are looking for more journal inspiration, then I would love to welcome you to my journaling club. In the meantime, please do take good care of yourself, Helen x