Journaling for Good Health and Well-Being
“Writing a journal can take you to your personal secret garden, where you experience the flowers that bloom, you know where the weeds are, and you know where the keys are hidden.” – Sheila. P. Brooks
Some people say:
“Journaling is a waste of time.”
“How do I start?”
“I was never a good writer.”
“I don’t have the time to journal.”
Well, for me, journaling is one of those things that I just cannot do without. It’s a practice that I have been doing now for a number of years and it’s my chance to express myself in confidence, to record my feelings and experiences and to privately release thoughts and insights. I’m definitely an avid advocate of journaling. Anyone can do it, it can be done anywhere and it’s extremely good for your general health, wellbeing and quality of life.
So….. Let’s look more closely at what journaling is and how to effectively journal.
There are so many benefits to journaling. Apart from helping you to recover from the stressors of life, it can help you move forward positively towards your goals and bring your dreams into reality. By getting all of your emotions onto paper, you express yourself and bring clarity and focus as well as release tensions and resistance to particular issues. It can also highlight irregularities, feelings and hidden patterns of behaviour.
If you are feeling conflicted or confused about a situation take it to your journal to either express your feelings or try to unravel the reason for your confusion by listing points.
The part about journaling that I enjoy best, is looking back through my journal to see the positive changes that I’ve made over time and my shift in perspective since the time of the original journal entry. At the moment, I’m having quite a few dreams and spiritual experiences, which are of course in my journal.
Broadly speaking, journaling can be used in a variety of ways and can look different for each person. Yet everyone will agree that the outcomes are always positive.
It can help you:
- Release thoughts which are disturbing and confusing;
- Record events or major milestones;
- Make connections between your feelings and behaviours, and;
- Allow you to express yourself in private in ways that you perhaps wouldn’t in public.
Surprisingly, journaling can:
- Improve your mood and shift you from a negative mindset to a more positive one;
- Give you a sense of wellbeing;
- Manage your stress;
- Allow you to connect with your inner self;
- Highlight hidden motives, thoughts and emotions;
- Make you more self-aware, and;
- Allows you to put things into perspective.
All of which improve your mental health.
For anyone who currently journals or is planning to, here are a few good practice tips to help:
- Write in a private space that is free from distractions.
- Write when you feel the need to, unless you want to regularise your journaling, then do it daily.
- Write about anything that you feel is right. There are no rules.
- Don’t worry about your handwriting, spelling or grammar. You (or anyone you choose) are the only ones looking at your journal.
- Protect your privacy and keep your journal in a special place away from prying eyes.
- Write about your feelings. Journaling is a positive experience, even if negative things are recorded. The overall aim of journaling is positive and therapeutic.
- Have a special book for journaling. This gives your journaling notes a special place of their own and raises the significance of journaling.
- Date every entry. This is a very important point, one that you only realise when you decide to look back at your journal entry and find that you forgot to date it and can’t remember when it took place.
- If you don’t like using pen and paper, you can always journal on your laptop or other similar device. You can even use your phone.
- Tell yourself the truth. This is the essence of journaling. There is no one to fool apart from yourself!
- Read your entries, weeks, months even years after you have written them. It will give you a good sense of where you have (or haven’t) made progress.
- Don’t hold back. Write in free flow, keep it simple and natural. Remember that there are no rules. Let the words flow from you to the book. Don’t stop in between. Just let it flow.
- Use lines, circles, squiggles, whatever you want to make the ideas flow. You don’t even have to complete sentences or words.
- Finally, do what works for you.
For a list of 33 journaling prompts, ideas and questions to help get you started click here to download: 33 Prompts to Help You Journal