The Amazing Benefits of Journaling
Thought about starting a journal? Here are my thoughts on why you should!!
As someone who has been journaling on a consistent basis for the past 4 years, I can honestly say that journaling has been life-changing. This is no exaggeration. Not only has journaling built my confidence with my writing, but it has also taught me a lot more about myself than what I possibly could have imagined.
So whenever someone tells me they are thinking of starting a journal, I always push them to go for it and to start straight away!! And here's why.
Journaling helps you build your confidence with your writing in a 'controlled environment'.
Perhaps you've always dreamed of becoming a writer or a blogger. Maybe you just want to get better at writing to help with work and assignments. Regardless of what your intentions are, journaling is a fantastic way to become a better writer.
Why is this? Not only does journaling provide an excuse for you to write about whatever you like, but it also does so in such a way that you are insulated from criticism (provided that no one reads your journal of course). Now, this does not mean that I am entirely against people critiquing my written work; in fact I encourage it in some contexts!!
However, when you are just starting out with writing or you are building confidence in your skills, you may be extremely self-conscious about what 'others may think' about your work. Journaling removes this added anxiety because it is a 'controlled environment' in the sense that you are only writing for one audience: You!! Of course you can share what you write to other people but there's no need to do so. This can be an absolute blessing.
Journaling helps you learn more about your own thoughts, attitudes and inclinations.
The essence of journaling is best captured in the following quote:
"Journal writing is a voyage to the interior." ~ Christina Baldwin
When journaling, you are reflecting on your own thoughts and attitudes about particular topics or specific events that you have experienced. You're uncovering any hidden thoughts whilst also putting yourself under a microscope.
I also find that hand-writing a journal encourages even further self-reflection because you're writing pace is significantly slower compared to if you were typing. Slowing the writing process down helps facilitate deeper thinking and reflection because you're forced to slow down your thinking and therefore seek greater depth.
Journaling encourages you to overcome self-censorship.
This one was a huge one for me personally. When I journaled I noticed that I had a tendency to downplay my thoughts and attitudes or even lie to myself about how I felt about my present circumstances. I'd write things such as "It's no big deal" or "I'm sure I'll get through this" even though at the time the proverbial light at the end of the tunnel was nowhere in sight.
I then thought to myself: "If I cannot be completely honest to myself, who can I be wholly honest to?" Even more, I also wondered what the big deal was with admitting things to myself when no one else was reading my journal anyhow; why did I fear criticism or backlash?
This way, I started to learn how to un-censor myself and write what I was honestly feeling. As soon as I learnt to become honest with myself, I sub-consciously started talking with my friends and work colleagues more openly about particular topics, whether it be how I felt about about a new change to our product at work or how I felt about a particular subject in my degree.
In sum, journaling has significantly helped me overcome self-censorship and any shame I might have previously felt about disclosing my true thoughts, attitudes and feelings.
Keeping a journal is a great way to keep a record of your life.
We all enjoy looking back at photos and videos of past memories. So why not enjoy reading through a journal?
A few years down the track, you can come back to read what you have written. I enjoy reading journals from a few years ago just for the pure joy of reliving what I was experiencing at the time and how I overcame any problems.
Even more, reading over journals from the past may provide answers to questions you are seeking or to problems you are currently facing. Personally I have found that journal entries I have written in the past have served as invaluable sources of guidance and advice for solving problems I am facing in the present.
Final thoughts & what to journal about
It is more than fair to say that journaling is beneficial for a number of surprising reasons. Not only is journaling fantastic from a writing point of view, but it is also phenomenal for a number of personal reasons.
So now that I've said this, what do you actually journal about? I find that the following prompts are always helpful:
- What's something you've learnt today?
- What do I need to vent about?
- How did I surprise myself?
- What did I do today?
- How did I feel about a book I was reading?
I'll also end with one final tip: Yes, it might be tempting to type out a journal on a Word document or something similar. However, I think there is a certain joy in handwriting that is unsurpassed by typing. Not only is handwriting therapeutic, but it is also a great way for you to overcome perfectionism because you simply can't 'backspace' like you can when typing (although you can cross stuff out but who wants to see pages and pages of lines through text!!).