Life started changing very fast when I turned 18. I was experiencing so many changes in my life, at the same time that it became hard for me to keep tabs on everything. I just sat back and watched everything unfold. That wasn’t enough though. I needed somewhere to take my thoughts somewhere. I didn’t have anyone to talk to then so I bought myself a journal.
I had developed the habit of buying journals or notebooks prior to all this but I used them for planning purposes and note-taking only. I didn’t know the journal I bought when I turned 18 was going to walk with me through my highest highs and lowest lows. It was going to help me through a lot of tough situations. I started making a habit of journaling in 2019. That’s when I fully understood how much writing in a journal was actually helping me and since then, I’ve always advocated for journaling.
For this week’s blogpost, I decided to share with you some of the ways in which consistently journaling has helped me and how it could possibly help you too. I will also share some tips on how you can get started just incase you need someone to hold your hand through the beginning of your journey.
Journaling makes you more self-aware
Being able to write about my feelings towards certain situations and even just how I feel about a particular day requires a certain level of self-awareness and I’ve been able to cultivate that through journaling. As someone who used to have a hard time saying things like, “I don’t like that you…” or, “When you did ABC, it made me sad,” journaling gave me lots of practice. Simple things like, “I’m happy everything went well today” or “Today, Hannah and I had an argument and that made me sad,” require you to be aware of yourself and your emotions. Being able to describe them (your emotions) and give them a name is definitely a step towards being more aware of yourself. My journal has definitely helped me with that. It slows me down and allows me to dig into how I really feel.
So if you would like to know more about yourself or be more in touch with who you are and the different things you feel, a journal is a great way to start.
Journaling can boost mental health
My journal provides stress relief. If something is really stressing me out or bringing about anxious thoughts, writing down those stressful feelings and anxious thoughts definitely transfers them from my mind, to another place, being my journal. By the time I’m done writing, I don’t feel as stressed as I did before. I usually feel a lot lighter after writing about what is stressing me or just causing me mental anguish.
Studies have been conducted to find out whether journaling really does boost mental health. One such study, carried out specifically to find out whether Positive Affect Journaling (PAJ) improved mental distress and wellbeing in patients with anxiety symptoms, suggested that “PAJ has potential utility as an intervention for managing mental distress, particularly elevated anxiety symptoms, and other aspects of well-being among general medical patients.”
Journaling allows you to store memories
One of my favourite things to do with my journal is read past journal entries. This could go one of two ways. I could either be triggered by something I wrote or amazed and grateful for how far I’ve come. I find it interesting to read certain things and just wonder where I was mentally to come up with certain things I wrote.
I love reading about the happy moments I experienced. I write my journal entries like I’m writing a letter to myself because I know that 5-10 years down the line, even less, I’ll read through that journal and in that moment, I’d like to feel like I was telling myself stories about the younger versions of me. I also like to leave little specific notes for future Wonani.
Journaling allows you to self reflect
Whether it’s reflecting on myself, reflecting on my goals, carrying out self-evaluations or whatever it is I need to reflect on, journaling is great for that. Write down your goals in your journal. Write down your thoughts on the day; what made you happy or what made you sad? You could also monitor your habits. A journal is good for this because you have somewhere you can physically record these things and then go back to read them as opposed to setting goals in your head and eventually forgetting about them.
HOW TO START JOURNALING
It would be unfair of me to tell you that you need to start journaling and not give you some tips on how to. So, here are a few tips that I know will help you in the beginning of your journaling process.
- Use a pen and paper. I highly recommend this as opposed to digitally journaling because the process of writing is quite therapeutic. If you’re able to go in this direction, please do.
- If you don’t know what to write about, follow some journaling prompts. There are so many journal prompts online but here is one to start with. “Gratitude” is a great app that comes with a journal, journaling prompts, affirmations and even a vision board page where you can create your own vision board. I highly recommend the app if you need a little extra help journaling.
- You don’t have to write everyday! I don’t write in my journal everyday. I try to journal at least once a week. I find that works very well for me.
- The length of your entries really doesn’t matter. Somedays, all you could have is a sentence and other days you could have something worth three pages.
- Be honest. What’s the point of keeping a journal if you’re going to lie to yourself there too? That defeats the purpose of keeping a journal. You’re supposed to be helping yourself.
- Have fun with it. You can create a certain ambience in your writing space. One that prepares you to journal. Play some calm background music, light a candle and write. It doesn’t matter how you do it just have fun with it so that it is something you look forward to each writing day.
Do you journal? If yes, how often do you journal and how has it helped you. If no, do you plan on starting to journal soon? Let me know in the comment section below!