I can see you now, sighing and rolling your eyes. Writing in a journal is modern-day speak for ‘writing in a diary’, you say. Diary writing evokes an image of a teenage girl in her room, heart pouring out of her pen as she writes, the ink mingling with her tears on the page. Am I right?
Luckily for us all, writing in a journal is not just for lovestruck teenage girls. Anyone can keep a journal. But why should you? We’ll explore that, but first: Where did the idea to keep a record of your thoughts, aka a journal, come from?
The History of Journaling
Finding the birthplace of journaling has been a bit of a challenge. It is unknown exactly how long people have kept journals, but we do know it has been for at least a millennia. Ancient societies inscribed their ideas, emotions, reactions, public records, and history.
In modern times, reflective writing was introduced by Dr. Ira Progoff, a psychologist from New York City. He began offering workshops and classes in what he called the “Intensive Journal” method. His method consisted of a three-ring notebook with color-coded sections, in which his patients would write for self-exploration, reflection, and psychological healing. In the late ’70’s, after Progoff’s theory was adapted and recycled by a few authors who turned the idea into books, the general public became intrigued. Journaling as therapy became popular; a common practice. Today, journaling for self-reflection, healing, and self-discovery is still prevalent.
What are the Benefits of Journaling?
Now that we know where journaling came from, let’s explore why keeping a written record is so popular.
There are so many benefits of keeping a journal that it’s difficult to say why you shouldn’t. From impacting your mental health to relieving pain, keeping a journal has perks that many of us know little about. After writing daily for a month, reflect upon your first entry. You may be surprised at how much you’ve grown and changed, and how much more clearly you see yourself!
Below, you will find just FIVE of the gifts you can receive from making writing daily a practice.
1. Writing in a Journal can Boost Your Overall Mental Well-Being
Utilizing the practice of journaling, or expressive writing, can have a significant impact on your mental health. Boosting your mood, improving your working memory, and reduce symptoms of depression are just a few of the key benefits you can receive. For journaling to be constructive, however, make sure you follow the Center for Journal Therapy‘s guidelines:
- W – What do you want to write about? Think about what is going on in your life, your current thoughts and feelings, what you’re striving towards or trying to avoid right now. Give it a name and put it all on paper.
- R – Review or reflect on it. Take a few moments to be still, calm your breath, and focus. A little mindfulness or meditation could help in this step. Try to start sentences with “I” statements like “I feel…”, “I want…”, and, “I think…” Also, try to keep them in the present tense, with sentence stems like “Today…”, “Right now…”, or “In this moment…”.
- I – Investigate your thoughts and feelings through your writing. Just keep going! If you feel you have run out of things to write or your mind starts to wander, take a moment to re-focus (another opportunity for mindfulness meditation!), read over what you have just written, and continue on.
- T – Time yourself to ensure that you write for at least 5 minutes (or whatever your current goal is). Write down your start time and the projected end time based on your goal at the top of your page. Set a timer or alarm to go off when the time period you have set is up.
- E – Exit strategically and with introspection. Read what you have written and take a moment to reflect on it. Sum up your takeaway in one or two sentences, starting with statements like “As I read this, I notice…”, “I’m aware of…”, or “I feel…” If you have any action items or steps you would like to take next, write them down now (Adams, n.d.).
2. Writing in a Journal can Relieve Stress
Journal writing therapy can help people identify and accept their emotions, manage stress, and ease mental illness symptoms. Journaling in this manner works best when done consistently. However, even occasional writing can relieve stress when it is focused on processing emotions and gratitude. By keeping a journal, you are able to gain clarity of your thoughts and feelings. You are able to reflect on your experiences and work on your problem-solving skills; by writing it out, the problem is more easily assessed and solutions become more readily apparent.
3. Writing in a Journal can Improve Your Quality of Sleep
If you choose to write before bed or first thing in the morning, research shows that keeping a journal can improve sleeplessness. If you have trouble falling asleep at night, writing about positive events can help you sleep longer and better. Stressing and worrying at bedtime can stop your body from winding down; redirecting your mind helps. By adding the practice of writing nightly to your bedtime routine, you could fall asleep more easily.
By getting the thoughts out of your head, you are reducing the anxiety they bring. By writing your emotions down, you are performing the ultimate act of self-care. So get into a relaxing position, listen to meditations or soothing music, and start writing!
4. Writing in a Journal can Shift Your Mindset
We all struggle with negativity from time to time. Sneaky patterns in our thoughts that are unhealthy can point us in the wrong direction. We could mentally traverse a path of self-destruction. By writing out those thoughts, you are able to analyze them from a new perspective, thus giving you a clearer view of the issue at hand. Negative mindsets can be transported into positive ones.
Reducing anxiety, decreasing symptoms of depression, and aiding in PTSD recovery are a few of the other bonuses included in the Journaling package. By creating a calm, clear mind and releasing our pent-up feelings and stressors, we let go of negative thoughts and explore our experiences. You will enhance your self-awareness and learn your triggers, which helps you relax even further.
5. Writing in a Journal Helps Unleash Your Creativity
Creativity is defined: The use of the imagination or original ideas, especially in the production of an artistic work. How do you inspire those abilities, though?
Regular practice is one of the most important pieces of creativity, which keeping a journal and utilizing it regularly ensures. By writing routinely, you can make journaling a habit instead of a talent. Already have the talent? Journaling can bolster it and help in other areas that you may not have known were lacking the creative touch. You can record your best ideas and refine your old ones. You can find or awaken your inner voice by writing.
Are you ready to get started? The Legacy of Love app is a terrific start! By writing out your daily experiences in the form of a story to your child, each benefit listed above can be attained. Don’t wait another minute! Get started today!