2020 was a rough year for a lot of us, to say the least. With some light at the end of the tunnel of the Covid-19 pandemic, we sincerely hope 2021 will be a brighter year. The past year and recent events in the World are hard on many people. Therefore, we decided to focus on the benefits of Journaling this month. Why journal you might ask? A blank page in a fresh notebook (preferably made without trees) offers unlimited creative and mindful possibilities.
We know, starting a journal can be a daunting task. Any notebook-fan can attest, some notebooks are just too beautiful to start writing in. However… There are countless benefits to keeping a journal (or two, or three).
Journal to drain your brain of all things keeping you up at night
Consider your journal as a place where you can let a stream of consciousness flow uninterrupted. Set aside for example 20 minutes a day and write down everything that comes to mind. Don’t curate or scratch things. Don’t overthink. And especially, try not to write down a perfect story with a matching perfect storyline. Just…Empty your mind of all things keeping you busy. This kind of journaling is like a meditative practice.
Solve and analyse problems by keeping a journal
Journaling can be a problem-solving tool as well. That is called ‘expressive writing’. In this exercise, make sure that what you’re writing down is not a stream of consciousness, but that it is a controlled analysis of something that is keeping you busy or makes you feel sad. You don’t need to set a timer and write for 20 minutes straight, you can also just write for a couple of minutes, as long as you stick to the problem you are taking a closer look at. Research has shown that this type of journaling can improve your well-being.
Achieve your goals
Do you remember writing cheat sheets when in school? Usually when writing up a cheat sheet, the information settles itself in your brain, and you don’t need that sheet at all. The same holds true for goals. Want to make sure to remember and stick to them? Write them down! The difference between writing goals down, and typing them up, is that your brain needs to work harder to translate words to paper compared to translating words to a screen. We’ve wrote a whole separate blogpost about that!
Keep your eyewitness report
Journaling about current affairs and your perception of them, or the way you as an individual experience them, can hold great value in the future. 1oo years from now, it will be quite difficult to understand how, for example, we experienced varied lockdown circumstances. An eyewitness report holds great value in the future! Keep in mind though, an eyewitness report is never the best account of how history unfolded, but it is a subjective account of how events in history were perceived – make sure to incorporate your personal take on the events, not just a factual statement of those events.
Remember for when you’re older
Linking to the previous suggestion – keeping track of how you live, feel, think right now holds great sentimental value in the future for you, possibly your children/grandchildren etc. It is a nice way to remember all that you’ve gone through when you get older.
So, it is clear that there are a lot of reasons to pick up a pen and a fresh notebook to start a journal.
However, we have to make one side-note. Avoid becoming tangled up in your own feelings. After all, a journal is not a replacement of professional help or a therapist and has a slight risk of helping you overthink too much. If journaling about specific life events doesn’t seem to help you but makes things worse, quit writing about that topic and look for relief someplace else.
Any additional reasons to start journaling? Feel free to share those in a commen!
Next week in this series: how to start a journal.