This blog was featured on 07/10/2019
Why Journaling is Vital for Your Growth
Contributor

We’ve all been told that we should journal but how many of us actually do it?  I had an on again off again relationship with my journal since high school.  After a traumatic event I did a lot of writing in my journal as a way to deal with anger and other emotions I didn’t understand.  Then my journal was read by my sister and secrets I wasn’t ready to reveal came out.  Therefore I quit the journaling practice.

If you’re serious about becoming a wealthy, powerful, sophisticated, healthy, influential, cultured, and unique individual, keep a journal.  ~ Jim Rohn

So, what does it mean to journal?  It’s the act of writing which can force you to organize and make concrete the emotional turbulence swirling around in your head; it is a way to have the vague feelings become structured and measured.  Here are five ways a journal can be beneficial:

1.The Journal is a Safe Place to Release Emotions

When I was in therapy during my teenage years to help me deal with the trauma I experienced, I was told that a journal would be a helpful way to release the emotions that I was purposely burying and not dealing with.  

This is a great use for your journal as well as a safe way to release any of those negative emotions we may not want to share with others.  Getting these feelings out of us helps us regain our footing and therefore our ability to refocus our minds to what we want to do and how we want to move forward.

2.Journaling Clarifies our Thoughts

Thinking in writing has this magical quality of clarifying our thoughts. Journaling helps us prioritize, clarifies thinking, and accomplish our most important tasks, over urgent busy work.  Putting our thoughts on paper enables the brain to organize our ideas and helps create a plan of action for our day.  It helps us be more aware.

Writing accesses the left brain, the analytical side.  While this part of the brain is busy, your right brain is free to do what it does best; create, discern and feel. Therefore, journaling removes mental blocks and allows us to use all of our brain to better understand ourselves and the world we live in.

3.Writing counteracts many of the negative effects of stress.

As you write about your day in your journal and you explain how the events unfolded you may not realize that it is actually aiding you in reducing your stress levels.  Yes, there are studies that show keeping a journal can reduce stress levels.  It does this by allowing our brains to reprocess the events in a safer environment as well as allowing us to actually simplify how the occurrence actually affects us.  It enables us to reframe the experience into something we can manage and deal with.

4.It improves cognitive functioning and decision making.

Reflective writing has also been shown to improve decision-making and critical thinking.  Really, writing down our thoughts can improve how we think?  Yes, it can. It helps us to grow and develop.   

For the reason, that the more we write the more we are using our brain to intake, process, retain and retrieve information.  It promotes a more focused look at our life experiences.  Writing boosts long term memory as well as its ability to see patterns emerge.  To journal allows the brain time to reflect, develop, and stimulate the brain’s highest reasoning ability.

  1. It strengthens the immune system.

Studies have shown that keeping a journal can prevent a host of illnesses.  Since we journal the negative emotions out onto the page, they don’t stay inside of us and cause dis-ease in the body. 

When I was journaling in high school, I was putting all my anger in the journal and when I stopped my anger festered.  It aggravated my stomach and was causing a lot of physical issues that almost led to an ulcer.  Dis-ease can cause the body to actually develop disease. 

In the journal I do not just express myself more openly than I could to any person; I create myself. The journal is a vehicle for my sense of selfhood. It represents me as emotionally and spiritually independent. ~ Susan Sontag

How to Journal

Journaling is not an ordinary practice; it is a keystone habit. Keystone habits affect how you work, eat, play, live, spend, and communicate. So, how do we start the process of keeping a journal?

Journaling normally involves the practice of keeping a diary or journal that explores thoughts and feelings surrounding the events of your life.  This can be done via pen and paper or via the computer, which ever you prefer.  I have chosen a plain journal with nice lined pages that has a bookmark and a basic black pen.

You need to journal every day.  I write three pages of sunrise sentiments every morning as I start my day.  In this way I have the opportunity to be grateful for yesterday, look forward to this day’s events and the intentions I have for it.  I’m purposely setting the attitude for the day as it begins.  Taking responsibility for the events that are planned for and realizing that those unplanned things don’t need to take away my joy.

Keeping a journal of what’s going on in your life is a good way to help you distill what’s important and what’s not. ~ Martina Navratilova

Some things you should not be concerned with when writing your sunrise sentiments are as follows:

  • Forget about grammar/spelling when you write. We aren’t writing for other’s approval or an English grade.  We are doing this as part of our self-care.
  • Be honest and authentic -write like no one else is going to read it. This I not meant to be shared and you need to be truthful with yourself.  You can’t grow if you don’t look for the truth.
  • Write by hand for better memory recall.  Most people retain information better when they write it out.  I still take notes by hand because I know I retain more that way despite the fact that I may end up typing the notes later.
  • Adopt cursive writing to get your thoughts out faster.  It is amazing how fast the thoughts may come as we write.  By writing in cursive or short hand we have a better chance in getting all our feelings onto the paper.
  • Let it flow; don’t interrupt your thought process. It doesn’t matter if it makes sense, it’s about getting it out on the page.  We aren’t looking for cohesiveness, sometimes our thoughts aren’t organized.  Getting them out is the important process.
  • Reflect on what you wrote.  This can be done that evening or weeks later depending on what you are writing about and the time needed to understand what you are going through.  I recommend that after a specific event has been completed and reviewing what you wrote during that time period may open your eyes to new ideas and ways of looking at yourself. 

A personal journal is an ideal environment in which to become. It is a perfect place for you to think, feel, discover, expand, remember, and dream. ~ Brad Wilcox

As you begin your journal process you will have some days where you don’t write until later in the day.  Don’t get upset with yourself, be proud that you found the time to do it.  If you just begin with listing what you are grateful for this day it is a wonderful start to a keystone habit that will have great impact on your life.

When I restarted my journal by wiring my sunrise sentiments, I didn’t realize how much more fulfilling my life would become.  When we take the time each day to organize and clarify our thoughts, we begin to be more aware and more present in each of the moments of our lives.  We begin to realize that the choices we made last week impact our results this week.  We start to make connections and can consciously choose to improve our lives.

Journal writing, when it becomes a ritual for transformation, is not only life-changing but life-expanding. ~Jen Williamson

If you would like to receive more informative and articles on how to improve your life right into your mailbox fill this out now.  Do you need help getting started on your journaling voyage?  Do you want a plan to help you create this keystone habit?  If so please contact me and we can put together an action plan for you to journal, become more aware and create the life you want.

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