Is it just me or have you been struggling with taking time for your well-being too? If you scour the Internet, you’ll find varying opinions of what we should eat, when we should exercise, what our ideal body weight should be… the list goes on. One area of reaching our optimal health is being overlooked – our mental health. While improving our physical health through diet and exercise can impact our mental health, I want to introduce you to another way to improve your well-being. The use of journaling has many benefits, and I’d like to take the time to share some with you.
Now as an old school (emphasis on old school) writer, I own more journals/notebooks than I do lipsticks. Something about putting pen to paper and letting my thoughts flow is therapeutic. You may not consider yourself a writer, but I don’t want this to inhibit the freeing release journaling provides. Allow me to explain why journaling is something you need in your life.
1. Free Expression. There are instances where the opportunity doesn’t come for me to speak openly about my thoughts and feelings. Whether it’s because I don’t want to offend someone, I feel like I’m just venting, or I don’t have time to spare regurgitating my thoughts, journaling provides the means to be open and honest. My journaling is without the intent of an audience – I’m writing for myself. The paper doesn’t judge me. The only time my pen interrupts my speech is when it runs out of ink. I’m free to write whatever my heart desires. I don’t have to stick to a certain format either. Starting off “Dear Diary” is not my method. Some of my entries are as simple as:
Today was pretty mediocre. Nothing too bad or good. That is all.
Other times my length exceeds my expectations and I’m left with pages upon pages of my soul spilled out before me. Drastic difference right? The freedom to say whatever I want/need allows me to be relentless with my honesty.
2. A Time for Reflection. The freedom to write with honesty produces a great means for reflection. There are times I’ll reread my journal entries and smile as I relive the happy moments. Other times I’ll reread other entries and realize my viewpoint was wrong or whatever I was complaining about was nothing more than making a mountain out of a molehill. Because thoughts and feelings are fleeting, reflecting on journal entries provides a means of keeping your perspective in check. It can also give insight as to patterns you can recognize. Are your thoughts and feelings projecting the lifestyle you desire? Are you crying out for help? (If so, please get the help you need. You can contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 or go to https://suicidepreventionlifeline.org/)
3. You are in Control. Because journaling is writing for yourself, you are in control of how and when you journal. There are times when I spend an hour or more jotting down ideas. As I mentioned earlier, some days I’ll only write a line or two. While I strive (and fail on repeat) to journal every day, you may find this doesn’t work for you. You will find what works for you, and I encourage you to continue it.
4. Private Time. Allow this to be your time. Like deep breathing and meditation, you will serve yourself best by writing for yourself. It’s not often I share my journal entries. When I do, it’s usually to enrich someone else’s life and not focus on myself. Memoirs are written with similar intent. Perhaps you’ll find your journaling should be read by others which is great! However, when in the moment of writing don’t let an audience dictate what you produce. This is your time to be honest.
5. You Can Do It Anywhere. Previous generations held great value in writing letters and keeping journals. Some may blame the advancement of technology for this practice’s demise. While there may be some truth there, does having an electronic device inhibit the means of journaling? Absolutely not. Most devices come equipped with a feature similar to a notepad. Likewise, journaling apps provide an easier and helpful way to record your entries. The beauty of journaling is you can jot down your ideas practically anywhere. There are times where all I will have is a pen and the back of a receipt. I also have typed journal entries in my phone. Journaling doesn’t need to be done in an office. It can be done while waiting in line, while hiking on a trail, on a lunch break – the possibilities are never-ending.
The benefits of journaling are abundant and it will enrich your life. Like strength training, journaling is a way of keeping our mental health in check. It’s a fantastic way to keep your perspective in check. Because you are the writer, you can write whatever and wherever.
Do you journal? What works for you? Not sure how to get started? My next post will cover the basics of getting started and forming a habit of journaling. Stay tuned!
Until next post,
Photo Credit: Marcel Hol at http://www.freeimages.com/photo/little-black-book-2-1464302