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Journaling — 7 Awesome Benefits and How to Make the Most of It

Journaling is the practice of keeping track of your thoughts and feelings, mostly through writing. It can encompass the entire range of emotions, from joy to grief and everything in between. Journaling can also involve keeping track of your goals, motivations, successes, and failures. If writing is something that scares you, worry not! Journaling can also be in the form of drawings, photographs, or even voice records.

There is no one fixed approach to journaling. It is largely customizable to suit your specific needs. People often keep separate journals for separate purposes, like:

– Travel Journal

– Work Journal

– Wishes and Goals Journal

– Personal Experiences Journal

…and so on.

The benefits of journaling can be numerous. Following are seven awesome benefits that journaling brings you:

  • Effectively Reinforcing Discipline: Taking stock of your scattered thoughts and doing that on a regular — daily or weekly — basis, can make your daily life more disciplined. For example, you can set a routine for tasks you might overlook otherwise. These can include a workout routine, a diet plan, a reading plan, running errands, watering your plants, calling up your old friends… and so on.
  • Emotional Awareness: Journals are your safe space to vent your emotions — even the most embarrassing and bothersome ones. Making sense of your current thought process — INTROSPECTION — and browsing through your old journal entries — RETROSPECTION — are the two most effective techniques to bring about positive change in your life. Regular practice builds your competence to understand why you feel something and how to respond to these thoughts. For example, putting into words why you are upset with, say, a colleague and gradually unraveling the cause-and-effect of the scenario can enable you to handle conflicts more effectively.
  • Reinforcing Positive Thoughts: Sometimes, you may steadfastly hold on to the negative side of experiences. If you try to write down these negative thoughts, you might realize how trivial they are in the greater scheme of things, and how there are numerous positive feelings and experiences to be grateful for.
  • Building Confidence: It is common knowledge that almost no situation is a dead-end, and you can almost always figure a way out. You have done that in the past, and you can do this again. Browsing through your old journal entries gives you this reassurance. What’s more, you are now fortified with a treasure trove of experience, unlike in the past. Your journaling practices can be your trusted old friend.
  • Venting and Letting Go: We all need a good cry now and then. As you write down or type your sadness, you may feel tears welling up, your eyes getting all blurry, and a few salty drops leaving damp spots on the paper. Go ahead, cry it out! The act of venting is crucial to the act of letting go — it’s healing and cathartic.
  • Mindfulness: Journaling helps you untangle your thoughts and emotions and deal with them more maturely. It helps you to be fully present in the moment. It prevents your mind from wandering off out of your control. This process can help you reduce stress and effectively reduce the symptoms of stress-induced anxiety.
  • Improved Health: A healthy mind is indispensable for a healthy body. As you take control over your thoughts and habits by confronting them through journaling, you can be sure to observe tremendous improvements in your physical health. Also, setting up a routine for healthy habits is sure to make you feel re-energized.

Keep the following points in mind for effective journaling:

  • Choose Your Medium: You can sit down with a notebook and a pen, you can type out documents on your laptops, you can use apps specifically designed for journaling (you can find several with a simple Google search), or you can even record yourself speaking about the things that you need to address. But whatever medium you choose, try to stick to one and don’t get distracted by too many options.
  • Build a Habit: Try to journal every day, at least when you are starting out. Also, try to set a fixed time for journaling, just like any other daily habit — for example, your morning coffee or afternoon gym. If doing it every day seems like too much of a challenge, do it at least twice a week, but no less than that.
  • Find Your Rhythm: Experiment with multiple styles and techniques to see what works best for you. Some popular styles can be A. Confessional – Expressing your deepest, darkest, saddest thoughts without being judgemental; B. Stream-Of-Consciousness – Wording your thoughts as they keep coming to you. There need not be any fixed pattern or logical sequence. Even the sentences need not strictly follow the rules of grammar. After all, you are writing for yourself. So do what makes sense to you; C. Bulleted List – This works well when you are preparing a to-do list, setting out goals, or keeping track of your progress.
  • Be Realistic: It’s easy to get emotionally carried away when dealing with something so personal as a journal. But try to be as realistic as your can. Set realistic goals within a realistic timeline. The consequence of being unrealistic is that you might get disappointed when you fail to meet your goals and give up journaling altogether.
  • Be Honest: Be brutally honest. If not here, then where? Remember, journal writing is a way of conversing with your mind, which already knows everything. Don’t try to delude yourself. None of us is perfect — far from it — and your journal is where you can embrace your imperfection.

A journal can be your steadiest friend and closest confidante. So why not start journaling today, and see the remarkable improvements in your mental and physical well-being?