Journaling is the act of putting your thoughts into writing, usually in a specific place or notebook. This can be by pen and paper or electronically and privately or publicly. Most people don’t realize how powerful journaling can be. It can serve as a tool to keep you accountable, as an emotional support, as a way to express emotions, as way to share your story and support others, and as an invaluable coping skill. But why does it help and what exactly are the benefits? What can journaling really do for you? Journaling can:
- Clarify your thoughts and feeling. Often in our daily life we have to move so quickly that we can feel like everything is all mixed up inside. Writing down the events of the day and how we feel can help us to understand and think clearly. It can help us see all of the facts rather than just parts of a situation that may be mixed up with others.
- Improve your understanding of yourself. It can help you to learn what makes you happy or what upsets you, to see trends in your life, to know and understand your desires and goals, and to build your self-worth by witnessing yourself through written word.
- Reduce stress. Talking about emotions and problems often eases stress, but sometimes we aren’t able to or don’t want to. Journaling can have the same result, in a sense, you are talking the problem out with yourself through journaling. It can be very empowering to be your own support.
- Help problem solve. Putting everything out in writing helps you to look at the big picture, weigh pros and cons, and either remove or understand emotions involved in a problem allowing you to more clearly solve it yourself.
- Help resolve conflict when you are unable to do it in person. The paper can often serve as the other person. You may not be able to get the resolution from them, but you can get to say your side. This can either serve to give you a sense of closure or to help see that you may have work to do on your end of the conflict as well.
- Help process situations and emotions. Putting events and emotions down on paper helps gain perspective and release some of the heavy weight it may place on us allowing a clearer understanding.
- Assist in identifying feelings that may affect daily life without our immediate awareness.
- Note and remind us of what we have learned, lessens that can be taken away from events. It is often hard to see what we can learn from painful events or when we make mistakes. Writing them down holds us accountable and allows us to learn from them, whether its how we can improve our actions or how we can protect ourselves from the actions of others.
- Remind us to ask ourselves the hard questions. It’s easy to be hurt by people, its hard to see when we hurt others. Writing things down can help us to ask and answer what our role was in situations.
- Improve focus or ground us. Everyone gets overwhelmed and can’t think straight at times. Writing things down is a form of organization that can help reduce that feeling.
- Help to release and move forward from hurtful situations. Especially in conflict it is not always possible to get closure from another person. Journaling can allow some of that within our own thoughts.
- Remind us of the positives. It is much easier to think of what hurts us or the negative emotions than it is the positive. Negative emotions are often stronger. Journaling with an intent to remind of the positives can help change your attitude and remove pessimism that negatively impacts mood and daily life.
- Help to strengthen your sense of self and grow in your identify and self-worth.
So is it worth the time it takes to put that pencil to paper or fingers to keys? That really is up to you to answer, but do consider this; is your physical and mental health worth the 20 minutes a day it would take to seriously and emotionally invest in journaling? The only way to find out is to try and let the results speak for themselves.