I was asked to write this post by a friend who struggles with anxiety. I hope they find it helpful, and I hope that others do too.
Earlier this year, I was encouraged to start journaling*. I made a half-hearted attempt at this a few months ago but, to put it bluntly, I didn’t really see the point. However, a few weeks ago I started journaling daily, and I must admit that I am a bit of a convert.
There is increasing evidence to support the idea that journaling has a positive impact on mental and physical well-being.
I don’t want to provide too much information on how to begin journaling, as I’m still working this out myself. However, here are a few tips that I have discovered in my journaling journey (journaling journey?!) thus far:
1. Write quickly and freely; do not worry about spelling and grammar. I found this hard at first, given the fact that typos give me mild palpitations. Don’t strive for perfection; your journal is for your eyes only (unless you feel that sharing it with others might be of use).
2. Pick a daily/weekly/monthly theme. Some of my initial attempts at journaling left me feeling negative, hence why I gave up. I now realise that this is because my writing had no structure, which led to me writing a variety of jumbled up, confused thoughts.
I now have dedicated days to write about specific topics, although I will deviate from this if there is something more pressing that I feel the urge to write about.
I also conclude each post by listing three things that I am grateful for. Daily gratitude is something that I have been practicing for years, and although it may sound a bit wishy-washy, the simple act of writing down the things/people/opportunities for which I’m grateful forces me to pay attention to the things that I sometimes take for granted.
There’s no wrong or right way to journal. I have been told by numerous people
to use paper only; journaling on one’s laptop or phone is supposedly ineffective.
This is complete and utter rubbish; do what works for you, not what works for a
42-year-old man from Preston (just a fictional example. Obviously).
How does journaling help me? It helps me to understand and manage my emotions. It helps me to feel empowered and in control. It helps me to identify my problems. It helps me to put things into perspective.
Journaling is something you need to get used to and comfortable with, and I’m not quite there yet. It’s a powerful tool, and one that I am keen to explore further.
If you journal, I would love to hear your thoughts on this. Why do you journal? How frequently do you journal? How do you structure your writing to ensure that you don’t go off on a tangent?
*Journaling, in my opinion, is whatever you want it to be. For me, it’s about exploring my emotions; both the uncomfortable emotions and incidents, and the overwhelmingly positive emotions and experiences.