How to Journal, An Introduction
Journaling is a personal practice that has been used for centuries to promote mental and emotional well-being (and is proven to do so). By taking the time to reflect on your thoughts and emotions, you can gain insight into yourself, reduce stress and anxiety, and improve your overall sense of happiness and peace. This guide will teach you how to journal if you’re just starting out or maybe give you a new perspective and inspiration if you already do. Whether you are looking to gain a deeper understanding of yourself, process difficult emotions, or simply cultivate a sense of calm and relaxation, journaling can help.
Why Journaling is Important for Mental and Emotional Wellness
It’s a simple way to get negative emotions out and gain a new perspective on your problems. It allows you to reflect on your thoughts, feelings, and experiences. You can process and release negative emotions, which will help reduce stress and anxiety. Additionally, journaling helps to increase mental clarity and self-awareness, allowing you to gain deeper insights into your own mental and emotional states. Another great benefit is being able to look back on your problems in the future and see how far you’ve come. Whether you’re dealing with a specific problem or simply looking to improve your overall well-being, keeping a journal can be a valuable part of your self-care routine.
There are many different “methods” of journaling but we’re going to keep it simple in this guide. Simply put, you are going to write about the experiences of the day. This should be a time of reflection. How did you feel? How did these experiences make you feel? What were your goals for today, and did your behavior align with them? Be honest with yourself!
There are 2 options for journal, electronic or physical. We highly recommend a physical journal as writing is proven to increase your retention and stimulate your brain more. Check out this quote from a scientific study:
Whenever self-generated movements are included as a learning strategy, more of the brain gets stimulated, which results in the formation of more complex neural networks (Van der Meer and Van der Weel, 2017). It also appears that the movements related to keyboard typing do not activate these networks the same way that drawing and handwriting do.https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fpsyg.2020.01810/full
Pick a Visually Appealing Journal
We think it’s important to feel attached to your journal, so pick one that you think looks good. Make it personal and more than just a simple notebook.
Choose a Time To Write
Our recommendation is to write your journal at night. Doing so allows you to have your whole day in your mind so you can get the most out of your reflection. It’s also a great way to wind down for the evening and a much better alternative to staring at a screen before bed. To help with making it a habit, try to write at the same time everyday.
Let Your Thoughts Flow
Write about whatever comes to mind. Your journal is your place for personal growth. In addition to reflecting on your day, we recommend writing goals in your journal as well as your affirmations. (check out our article on The Importance of Affirmations). Write for as long as you want but aim for a minimum of 10 minutes. Try to be honest with yourself and write from an open perspective and without judgement.
Ideas for what to write about:
- Gratitude: Focus on the positive aspects of your life or the events of your day. This could include being grateful for the things you own, your family members or good friends, the weather, etc.
- Reflection: Review and reflect on the events of your day.
- Problem Solving: Write about your problems and ideas for solving them.
- Goal Setting: Note down your goals, goals that you’d like to set, and plans for achieving them.
Make Journaling a Habit
Journaling, like most self improvement and wellbeing activities, is most effective if it is built into a habit. It’s a fact that some of the great people of our time kept journals.
Since as far back as ancient philosophers like Aristotle and Socrates kept ongoing accounts of their lives, centuries of highly successful people in industries as vast as business, science and entertainment were known to journal.
Many personal heroes of millions of people worldwide – Leonardo da Vinci, Mark Twain, Thomas Edison, Albert Einstein and Marie Curie among them all, famously journaled. They openly professed to keeping personal notes and records of personal thoughts, musings and ideascreativewritenow.com
Making it into a habit will help to give you the most out of the time you put in.
Revisit What you Wrote
Make sure to revisit entries you’ve written in the past. It’s an essential part of how to journal effectively. Especially after some time has passed, you will recognize the “old you” that wrote those passages and be able to reflect on how far you’ve come. It can be very satisfying to see the goals that you wrote down months prior, having achieved them in the present. This can be self reassuring and help you to raise your confidence in yourself: Proof that you were able to achieve your goals.
We hoped you enjoyed this article on how to journal. We hope you will go forward and start the practice yourself. Give it a try! Let us know how it’s been working for you. Feel free to leave a comment down below or reach out to us on Twitter if you have any other questions.
Thank you for reading