I’m a journal junkie. Honestly, I can’t remember a time when I didn’t want to just sit and write. My childhood years are full of times when I thought the only way I would get through things was to get it out on paper. If you have ever thought about it, here are 5 reasons to start journaling today.
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Back when I was little, I remember going to the store and being allowed to pick out one thing to buy. My sister and all of my cousins would typically get a toy or doll. I, on the other hand, ended up with either a notebook or new pens. Even back then, my love of writing and journaling was apparent in my need to have paper.
Journaling is an Escape
Being the eldest daughter in a family who began mourning so early in my life, I felt shoved aside and not “important”. My little problems in puberty and all that goes with finding yourself at that age were pushed aside because of the profoundness of death.
I wrote so many things down that felt like if I kept them inside they would burn a hole through my flesh to get out. I had to be able to tell someone, and my journal (I called it a diary back then) was the only place that felt even cared about things.
Work Through Emotions
Studies have shown that labeling your emotions can calm your experience with them. Writing about your sorrow, pain, or outrage and owning it through words can help you to better cope with them.
When you get your emotions out of your head through the act of writing, there is a visible record of them. It makes them more “real” and thus more important. Especially to those of us who feel as if no one cares how we feel.
Writing them helps you process through your emotions when done properly. Be careful not to just vent all of your emotions and let yourself be overtaken by them. Allowing yourself instead an allotted amount of time (I like 30 minutes) to vent about whatever is on your mind, and then switch gears to writing a positive affirmation or questions about the situation.
Taking a few minutes to read what you have written from a different perspective may help you see a different side or way of dealing with what is upsetting you. Pretend that what you have written was coming from your best friend. Self-talk to yourself about things as if you were listening to her and trying to help her through it all. Be your own best friends in times like these. Comfort yourself. You deserve it.
Get More Organized
Bullet journaling is a great way to start getting more organized in your life. Make it months-long, with indexes, task lists, events, notes and reflections. You can add habit trackers, self-care ideas, or whatever your heart desires.
Bullet journals are sold pre-made, or you can create your own using a dotted-grid notebook like this one here. They are almost endlessly flexible in how you can make it your own.
You can use a bullet journal for moment-to-moment scheduling, setting a tracking long term plans and goals, and you can also use it for creative writing and drawing.
It can be a little overwhelming to people who crave structure. I personally have tried a bullet journal, but found it to be too “flighty” for what I need in a journal. I like the structure of writing in a hard bound journal. (I blame my love of reading and convincing myself that when I get my thoughts out they are of a fictional character.)
Bullet journaling can be wonderful for more creative types who love to play around and vent through doodles and calligraphy and other lettering. You can have so much color and diversity in how you keep your bullet journal.
Tune into your creativity
Journaling does not have to be text based. It can be more of an art journal with sketches, doodles or even a mini-vision board. You can use images from magazines, or keep clippings of important events in your life. Art journaling can be however you want to express yourself through any artistic medium.
In an art journal, you are free to explore whatever works for you. Using keywords or quotes within your journaling helps focus your emotional state. You can question your daily life or create the life that you want to have through images. You do not have to connect any given image to another.
Art journals are especially good for children and adults with ADHD or other issues. I know my art journals mirror my bi-polar phases. You can tell through my images whether I am ok, manic, or depressed. It’s wonderful for rapid thought processes, as the point of the art journal (for me) is to get everything out, even if it doesn’t have a clear and concise path.
be more empathetic
Are you the snarky type?
By keeping a gratitude journal, you can feel beter about your life and more charitable toward others. Write down everything you are thankful for. Write down what you have in your life that is good and makes you happy.
I know I am. I also have very set-in-stone beliefs about the state of the world that make me hop up on my soapbox a lot.
Starting out listing just 5 things that you are grateful for once a week can help you feel more optimistic and satisfied with your life. You may even see health benefits like fewer headaches, less stomach issues, and even a reduction of breakouts.
Finding the good in your life instead of focusing on the negative can greatly reduce the amount of stress you feel and place on your body. Just by seeing the good instead of the bad, you will feel so much better and optimistic about life.
Start by just jotting down a few things you are happy about. Do this every few days or once a week. After a while, you will start noticing a positive upswing to your mood and your interactions with others. Just by being thankful for things you already have.
Do you have issues getting to sleep because you can’t shut down your thoughts from the day? Do you lay in bed contemplating events and how you SHOULD have reacted to them?
Journaling before bed can be a great sleep aid. You can write down all the things in your head and then literally shut the book on them all. No more letting them run willy-nilly through your head keeeping you awake at night.
Or maybe you would rather find a way to remember or work through things that happen in your sleep? Writing first thing in the morning can help those who suffer with nightmares or poor sleep cycles to see what their minds have been working though during the night. Just rambling into the pages each morning can help you gain insight into what is really bothering you.
This is especially helpful for those who have learned to bottle up emotions. After time, you really cannot identify them. Your subconscious may be working through them as you sleep. By just “free writing” first thing in the morning, you may have a epiphany as to what is truly bothering you.
Getting Started Journaling
A lot of people have told me that they don’t journal because they feel as if the aren’t doing it “right”.
No one way is right for anyone. The idea is just to do it. With time and trial and error, you will find the best way to journal to help yourself. Journals do not come in a “one size fits all” category.
Just take the time to do it. Don’t worry about whether it’s “right”. Don’t worry about if what you are writing is politically correct. This is about YOU. No one else is going to read your journal. (And if they do- kick them out of your house for invading your privacy.)
No matter what journal you choose, journaling can be an escape- a snapshot of your life at that moment in time. You can make yourself the hero of your own story. If you need a starting point, here’s a suggestion:
Write Your Autobiography
Don’t worry about what to say or how it sounds. Just start by sitting down and pretending to write your memiors. The important parts of you life that you may still be harboring resentments and pain over will show themselves as you write about your life. Let this be your starting point to finding your authentic self.