If you don’t yet journal you’re in for a treat. Journaling is an exciting life-changing tool that may change your life. Really!
“People who keep journals have life twice.” – author Jessamyn West
For many of us, when we think of journaling we envision a teenage girl pouring her sweet heart out, writing about important topics like her latest crush. When I picture this girl, she even has a matching pink fluffy pen. Seriously, who would want journal as an adult with that image?
If you share this image with me, you may have stayed far, far away from journaling. I did for a very long time. However, I started again when I read some studies on the benefits of journaling. I couldn’t believe it. Journaling isn’t just for teenage girls, anymore. It’s hip! Tim Ferris journals. Oprah journals. Michael Hyatt journals. Lots of famous, smart people journal. I needed to learn more!
Once I tried it, I found that journaling is actually fun and relaxing. It stretches your mind, calms you down, and may even make you physically healthier!
I like to compare journaling to yoga. If you’ve never tried it, it sounds like a lot of work. What crazy person would add stretches and body contortions to their workout routine? But once you try it, you’re addicted! You see the benefits right away and you may wonder “where has this been my whole life?
Thinking of giving it a try? Below are some reasons you should start journaling.
4 Reasons You Should Start Journaling
1. It gives you time to reflect. The biggest benefit that most people see when they start journaling is they are able to better reflect on their lives. As Socrates said, “The unexamined life isn’t worth living.” We’re all so incredibly busy that spending even a few minutes to think and reflect is rare. We are bustling around to get things done on our to-do list, but we don’t take the time to reflect on the important things in our life. Taking the time to stop and think changes us. It gets us off the hamster wheel and thinking more broadly. We start solving our problems instead of making the same mistakes every day.
2. It makes you happier. According to Alex Ikonn and UJ Ramdas, journaling is “the simplest, most effective thing you can do every day to be happier.” Give it a try and tell me if you feel a little happier! I like to journal at night before bed. I find that when I do this, I always wake up in a better mood. The act of journaling itself is calming, especially if you use an old-fashioned notebook and pen. Sitting down and taking time to reflect and think is so simple, but it has an amazing power to bring joy to our lives.
Do It For Your Health
3. It improves your physical health. This is a surprising benefit, isn’t it? However, once I looked this up, I found that there were numerous studies that showed that expressive writing (writing about your deep emotions or stressful events) benefits your physical health. The data is overwhelming about the physical effects.
According to an article in Advances in Psychiatric Treatment (see footnote 1), there are even long-term benefits, such as improved immune system functioning, reduced blood pressure, improved lung functioning, fewer days in the hospital, etc. That’s crazy, right? Those are serious benefits. Who would have guessed that something seemingly so simple can have such huge impacts on your health. It makes sense, though, because our bodies are impacted by our emotions. Writing things down lets us express our emotions, which calms us down and makes us healthier in mind and body.
4. It slows you down and nurtures you. Picture a vision of yourself in comfy PJs, snuggled up on your favorite seat, wrapped in a blanket and writing in your journal. Doesn’t it sound delicious?
Unfortunately, for most of us, this scene is rare. Instead, we’re probably checking the latest Facebook update or sweeping up the kitchen before we fall into bed, too tired to keep our eyes open just one more minute.
By taking time to journal, we help ourselves slow us down from the daily frenzy of life. It’s calming to sit and write. It makes us feel nourished in our busy world since we are taking time for ourselves.
Related Article: The Truth About What Self Care Really Is
How to Start?
Hopefully, I’ve convinced you to give journaling a try. Like with all new things you start, you’ll have the most success if you keep it simple.
Decide on your format. There are so many different ways now to create a journal. Decide if you want to use a notebook, computer, or even voice recording software. Personally, I’m a big fan of the old pen and paper method since there’s something very relaxing about writing. However, many people are also very successful in using a computer. You can use Word, Pages, Evernote, or special Journaling software apps. Alternatively, you can record audio or video. I like to use my phone sometimes to record audio of thoughts as I go on walks.
Decide what time of day to write. Next, choose when you’ll write. Will it be first thing in the morning (is that realistic? Not for me!), just before bed, during lunchtime, etc. You may want to set a reminder in your phone so that you remember.
Start Writing! There are lots of different types of journals. There are gratitude journals, expressive journals, it goes on and on. In spite of this, don’t let this decision keep you from starting. The best way to know what you’ll want to write is to actually….start writing! My journal mixes every type of journal I can think of. Some days I list things I’m grateful for, other days I record a quote that inspired me. If I’m having a bad day, I’ll write about something that upset me. The secret is to just start!
Give yourself a break. Don’t try for perfection. If you start journaling and then stop because life gets in the way, next time you can simply get right back to it. Even if it’s months later. The worst thing you could do is beat yourself and stop entirely. Like with every new habit, life will happen
Examples of What to Journal
Your journal can contain anything you’d like. It doesn’t just need to record what happened that day or your emotions. I like to mix up my journal depending on my mood. Some days it contains memories, other days ideas or spiritual thoughts. It’s fun to flip through my old journals and see what my thoughts were for that day.
Below are some ideas of things you can journal.
– Gratitude – write things you are grateful for, from the mundane to the profound.
– Things that Impact You – Quotes, Articles, Ideas, etc. make interesting additions to journals.
– Goals – Write down your goals and track them.
– Books – You can include those you want to read or have already read.
– Accomplishments – Remind yourself of the amazing things you’ve achieved.
– Spiritual thoughts – Write ideas on how to live, how you interpret scripture, etc
– Pictures – Draw your own pictures or paste pictures from other sources.
– Special Days – Record memories of special trips or memories.
Free Printable – Journaling Prompts
I also have free printable for you with 77 (!) journaling prompts. These prompts will help you will all aspects of your life. I have prompts for time management, gratitude, monthly reflections, even quotes! Click here to get the printable and lots of others 🙂
Give it a Try
I hope you give journaling a try! There are so many benefits. It truly has the power to change your life. Let me know in the comments below if you already journal and how it’s helped you.
PIN for Later:
1. Baikie, K.A. ,& Wilhelm, K. (2005). Emotional and physical health benefits of expressive writing. Advances in Psychiatric Treatment 11(5), 338-346. Retrieved from http://apt.rcpsych.org/content/11/5/338