Journaling is back. Like a phoenix, this old practice was reborn a few years ago into something more powerful. It’s now an activity that health experts swear by, thanks to its many psychological benefits. Increased creativity is one of them, and probably the most interesting to all writers out there. If you haven’t done so yet, it’s time to add journaling into your daily routine.
Gone are the days in which journaling was conceived as a corny way for someone to express their feelings (are you picturing a teenage girl lying in bed, looking sad while she writes about her high school crush in her scented diary?). But even then, maybe without being aware of it, people would benefit from the therapeutical effects of writing, something that has been reinforced by health professionals over the past few years.
Cultivating Healthy Habits
Although the main benefits of keeping a journal reside on a psychological level, it has also been proven to have a positive impact on our physical health, too. It’s therefore a holistic practice that impacts our general wellbeing. Let’s go through the benefits in more detail:
Journaling reduces stress
Taking time for some introspection is a great tool to bring more awareness into your life, to step back and reflect, to better understand yourself. Thanks to this personal analysis, you can then broaden your perspective on things and generate alternatives to cope with certain issues. In other words, journaling gives you the chance to channel your thoughts and feelings to gain clarity, which brings you back to a more serene state of mind.
Journaling boost creativity
Journaling is a way to motivate yourself, as this practice increases your self-confidence. You get to explore cognitive and emotional areas of your own normally inaccessible psyche, which unlocks your creative side and gives you inspiration for your personal and professional projects.
Journaling improves your physical health
Like other forms of therapies, keeping a journal increases your body’s capacity to self-heal. Researchers have found that patients going through infectious diseases would heal quicker when they kept a journal. It has also been proven useful to treat migraines, for example, as keeping track of the activities and foods taken helps establish patterns and avoid triggers in the future.
As for the main aspects to keep in mind for successful journaling, experts confirm that the key is consistency. It’s recommended to write — preferably by hand — for at least 15 minutes every day, letting words flow without worrying about grammar and spelling. You should focus on your feelings and any negative thoughts that you might have at that particular moment, as the magic of journaling lies in releasing these kinds of emotions to help you feel better.
Having said that, there are different techniques, trends and popular methods that take journaling into something a bit more specific:
It consists of liberating your mind by writing nonstop. Grab a pen and start writing anything that comes to your mind until you fill at least a couple of pages in a single sitting. The challenge is never putting down the pen until you’re done. If you don’t have anything to write, just write “I don’t have anything to write.” Once you’ve finished, don’t read it and throw away the papers. Apart from unlocking creativity, this techniques gives you the opportunity to feel free from any judgement from your “inner editor.”
If you can’t or don’t want to invest a lot of time in journaling, this technique is for you. At the beginning or end of the day, take your journal and write a summary of your day in just one sentence. It can be about a particular subject — your new workout routine or your children’s activities, for example — or about your life in general. Short and concise, this is a great method to keep track of things over a long period of time.
Morning pages technique
Experts agree that writing first thing in the morning is most beneficial for you because it sets you up for a productive and positive day. The idea of journaling and sipping coffee in the morning light while everyone else is still sleeping sounds quite romantic, so why not give it a go?
Morning or evening, keeping a gratitude journal is another way to boost your self-esteem and improve your well-being. It doesn’t require too much time, as you only need to write about a few things that you feel grateful for in that moment — it could be anything from the smell of the roses in your garden, your child’s cute comment or the meal you just shared with your family.
This is actually an organization system that allows you to be more productive optimising your time. From your grocery shopping to weekly events and monthly goals, this system is everything you need to put some order in your life.
Feeling more creative and inspired is something many of us look for, and journaling seems like a small price to pay to overcome writer’s block. No matter which technique you decide to try, over time you’ll realize that it’s a great way to get your creative juices flowing.
Do you keep a journal and would like to share your insights on the topic? Leave a comment below!