Despite being valued by experts in various fields – from business to psychology – as the best habit in the world, journaling has attained a negative reputation over the years. Maintaining a journal can change one’s life! Yet, we are all afraid to start somewhere and hit the pages, perhaps because of that TV series which focuses on plotlines in which the journal is read, secrets are exposed, and the world falls apart.
Most of us have grown habituated to communicating merely through texts, but having a paper-based journal has proved to be exceptionally beneficial to the soul, and maybe a life-long record of your emotions and thoughts far after your laptop has crashed. Instead of letting your life pass as a series of experiences that won’t be remembered, maintain a journal to change your life, sooner or later.
There are various benefits to journaling that go much beyond improved penmanship or to process your emotions. Let’s take a look at a couple of them:
- A Zone Free from Judgements
Maintaining a journal also means writing whatever you like without fearing about being judged for it. Your journal acts as a sacred space for you to pen down your deepest secrets, joys, sorrows, fears, and woes, safe in the impression that it’s all totally okay. Bringing it all out in the journal might even bring some focus and clarity to things that have been disturbing you, thus giving you a chance to work through them.
- A Source to Find Inspiration
For people in the creative fields, the benefits of maintaining a journal are obvious. Whenever you think of a new idea or take a new assignment, your journal is your go-to source and a permanent record of your ideas, thoughts, and experiences. Besides, artists can doodle or sketch on their pages and writers can form short snippets of dialogues, poetries, or character descriptions.
- A Platform to Release Stress
In today’s hectic times, it feels as though we’re constantly working, worrying and wandering. From the time we wake up to the moment we sleep, life is a sequence of activities: commuting to work, personal care, cooking, family time, cleaning, doing the job, commuting home, rinse/drain/repeat.
When you write something on a piece of paper, your breathing automatically slows down and controls itself. You’ll be amazed to witness what a few minutes of silence and stillness can do to boost your mood and help your overall well-being.
- Boosts Commitment to Achieve Goals
Several studies have shown that the idea of writing down your goals prompts a sense of responsibility and commitment. A journal acts as an invisible companion that does the job of motivating you and keeping you on the right path constantly. Whether you want to change careers, jobs, refurbish your house, write a novel, or run a marathon, jotting it down in a journal and updating it whenever the notion strikes you will improve your chances of working towards it diligently. Pen down your moments of doubt, mini success, how you have managed to reach so far, and why you are not going to give up. Glancing through these words of encouragement, struggle, and determination will boost your spirits when you are having a bad day.
A Change in Approach
Now that we have learned the why of journaling, let’s move on to the what. The best thing – there’s no “correct” or “incorrect” way of maintaining a journal – it depends on what you are expecting out of it. But that liberty can also be confusing, overwhelming and may distance you from getting started. You can try out the following structures to check what works the best for you:
- The gratitude journal – to write about something you are grateful for
- The goal journal – to write out your goals
- The values journal – to write about your personal values and a mission statement
- The ideas journal – to write about new ideas, concepts, and imageries
- The curiosity journal – to write about what conjures up the feeling of curiosity in you
How to go about it?
We now know the benefits of maintaining a journal and what you should do with it, but how do you go about it?
To begin with, write at least once a week. If possible, write once a day, sometimes bigger entries, other times smaller descriptions, but ensure taking a step towards writing something regularly. If you are not fond of writing, record your thoughts in an audio or video format and maintain it as your journal. There’s something special about narrating your thoughts out loud, so whether it’s audio, video or a text format, sit down and give it a try. Lastly, let your journal be a private space of feelings and observations that nobody else is aware about.
Above all, remember that journaling is for you, about you!
Akanksha Shukla is a content strategist, writer by the day and reader by the night- all with the trusted companionship of coffee!