The power of journalling

Journalling, the act of putting pen to paper or fingers to a keyboard to record one's thoughts, experiences, and emotions, is a practice as old as the written word itself. Since reading a study from Monash University, Melbourne which suggested the physical act of writing decreases the chances of having dementia, I have personally decided to choose this method, and there is definitely something more therapeutic using a pen and paper.

Throughout history, countless individuals have found solace, insight, and personal growth through the act of journaling. In this resource, we will explore the myriad benefits of journalling, ranging from enhanced emotional well-being to increased self-awareness, and from improved problem-solving skills to fostering creativity and hopefully, it will become evident that journalling is not merely a hobby but a powerful tool for self-improvement and personal growth.

  1. Self-reflection and self-awareness
    One of the key attributes to self development is obtaining self awareness. Journalling encourages self-reflection. By recording daily experiences, we create a chronicle of our lives, which allows us to step back and consider our choices and behaviour through a more independent lense. This can help us recognise patterns, strengths, and weaknesses and better understand ourselves and how we might move towards a better version of ourselves. As Socrates wisely stated, “An unexamined life is not worth living”.
  2. Supporting our emotional health
    Whatever method you use for journalling, it is important that it is in a private and secure place so that it can be used as a safe and personal tool to pour out one’s emotions. The process of putting feelings into words, without thought or judgement, can serve as an emotional release, providing a sense of relief and catharsis. Writing can help us process complex feelings and make sense of the whirlwind of emotions that life throws our way, making them easier to manage. Journalling is recognised as a therapeutic process and a complementary tool in therapy and can be a valuable way to process and heal emotional wounds.
  3. Stress reduction
    In our fast-paced and often chaotic world, stress is a common companion. Journalling can act as a powerful stress reduction tool. Writing about the sources of stress in our lives, our worries, and our fears, can be incredibly therapeutic. It is often suggested that 90% of our worries never actually materialise! Moreover, when we identify stressors through journalling, we can work on strategies to cope with or eliminate them. This not only reduces stress but empowers us to take control of our lives.
  4. Problem-solving and decision-making
    Journalling is a constructive method for problem-solving and decision-making. When faced with a dilemma or important decision, writing down the pros and cons, potential solutions, and their implications can help us see the issue from various angles. The act of putting our thoughts on paper makes complex problems more manageable and often leads to more informed decision.
  5. Goal setting and achievement
    Many successful individuals attribute their accomplishments to the practice of setting and tracking goals. Some studies have shown that those who journal their goals are more likely to achieve them. Journalling provides a platform to be specific with goals as well as breaking them down into manageable steps. Regularly reviewing your journal to assess your progress keeps you accountable, motivated and focused.
  6. Creativity and idea generation
    Journalling isn’t limited to recording daily events or emotions. It can also be a space for creativity to flourish. Many writers, artists, and creative thinkers use journals to jot down ideas, sketches, or snippets of inspiration. It’s a repository for the seeds of creativity, a place where innovative concepts can sprout and grow. This blend of order and chaos in journalling often results in the birth of extraordinary ideas.
  7. Enhancing our communication
    The process of writing in a journal can improve our communication and support more challenging conversations. By articulating thoughts clearly on paper, it becomes easier to convey them verbally to others in a more considered, concise and complete way. Journalling enables individuals to express themselves more effectively and eloquently, which can be advantageous in both a personal and professional context.
  8. Tracking personal growth
    When journalling over an extended period, it becomes evident how much we’ve evolved. Documenting experiences, reflections, and lessons learned enables us to track our personal growth and development. This awareness can be a source of motivation, reminding us of our ability to overcome challenges and become better versions of ourselves.
  9. Time capsule of memories
    Journalling serves as a time capsule of memories. In the digital age, where information is easily lost or deleted, a physical or digital journal is a precious record of our lives. It allows us to revisit and relive moments, emotions, and experiences, preserving the essence of who we were at different points in time.
  10. Journal structure
    How you journal is very personal and individual. I find it helpful to be free flowing, and honest. I personally journal soon after waking as it allows me time to reflect on the previous day and consider the current day with fresh eyes. As with everything in life, consistency beats intensity and some days my journal may only be a few lines. I start with considering my wellness goals, like sleep, exercise and nutrition. I consider my emotional health and have created a 1 to 10 virtual meter for my emotional health (EH), and physical health (PH). This supports my self awareness with how I am feeling. If the score is 5 or below I know not to make big decisions and to be gentle on myself. I might take a walk mid morning or afternoon if my diary allows and treat myself to my favourite coffee. If the score is 8 or above, I might consider tackling more complex tasks or goals. Finally, I list three areas of gratitude. With the modern complexities of life, reflecting on areas to be truly grateful helps support a more positive perspective on life.

In conclusion, journalling is not merely a hobby but a transformative practice with a multitude of benefits. It is a therapeutic outlet for emotions, a tool for self-reflection and self-awareness, a means of reducing stress, a platform for problem-solving and creativity, and a way to set and achieve goals as well as contributing to improved mental health, and a time capsule of memories. Journalling is a powerful method for personal growth and self-improvement. Embracing the act of putting pen to paper can be the first step in unlocking the potential for positive change in our lives.

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