Over the past six months I have made one simple addition to my daily routine and it has had a truly positive impact on my work and life – I have been keeping a journal. Journaling is a very simple process of recording your thoughts, feelings, important events and daily experiences in a book of some description (a journal). It is essentially a means of self-discovery and can be a powerful tool in personal and business transformation.
I am therefore a passionate believer in how journaling can unlock creativity and self-expression and in this series of blog posts, Journaling – A Beginner’s Guide, I wanted to share with you some of the benefits of journaling, provide handy pointers for how to start and tips for what to journal about. In part one I will discuss some of the important benefits of journaling.
The benefits of journaling
There are multiple reasons why you may want to start a journal. Self-discovery and self-expression are two very common reasons and in fact why I personally began writing in a journal many months ago. It is a good way to tidy up your thoughts, to assist with problem solving and help you to get into a creative flow.
Let me explore these few things in a little more detail:
Writing in a journal on a daily basis can aid self-expression in quite a big way. By writing about what you feel and think, it gives you a chance to express very personal thoughts and feeling that perhaps stay locked inside your head normally. Things that perhaps you struggle to put into words to other people? Once journaling becomes a habit, you begin to truly find your voice – handy if you are a budding author looking to write a book.
By writing regularly about what you feel and think, you begin to understand yourself and how you react to life’s daily stresses and strains. It is a chance to get to know yourself and understand what makes you tick. What things get you annoyed and what things make you happy? You can then look to attract more of the things that make you happy and remove those things that annoy you. For example, if you know yourself well, it will enable you to progress further in your career as you will set and achieve goals that really resonate with you.
Many people today are busy, stressed, worried or anxious about so many different things. We have thousands of thoughts flying around in our minds every day and journaling about it can help to relieve some of this stress by effectively ‘talking about it’. Regular writing can give you a well-needed cathartic release valve for the stresses of your daily life. There is a lot of pressure and noise in our heavily technology-loaded and goal-focused society and sometimes this places unnecessary pressure on us that just builds and builds. Journaling also gives you time to stop, pause and do something for yourself. I think of it almost like meditation – a chance to be in the moment and just accept whatever thoughts and feelings come out.
Gratitude and happiness
A large part of a journal should also be a focus on gratitude for what you have and on appreciating just how awesome you really are! Very often we are our own worst critics but by congratulating yourself on achievements and successes it can change the way you view yourself and also help to make you happier. A few words expressing just what you are grateful for that day puts a little perspective on our lives and problems. Sometimes by being grateful for the wonderful things that you have achieved, the people in your life right now, the roof over your head and the food on your plate, then small stresses become insignificant.
Get more creative
Writing in a journal can also help to boost creativity. By writing regularly we are in fact already creating – creating words that flow out of the right side of your brain. The right side of the brain is said to be more creative and less logical. By free writing for at least 30 minutes or 3 full pages, you tap into that creative side of your mind and get into a ‘flow’. Undertaking creative tasks such as writing marketing copy, writing a book or just coming up with new ideas for your business seems somehow much easier. In fact, I have found that by introducing a regular journaling practice into my day, it has made me realise that I need to do creative tasks regularly (such as drawing, crochet and sewing) and so I have made time for those things that make me really happy. I have also found that writing my blogs and books has become much easier to do!
In our personal lives as well as in our work, we often come across problems or challenges that can cause us to become a little stuck. Journaling is a great way to problem solve. You can journal about potential solutions, work through options and just let flow all of the issues that are causing you confusion. After a few days of journaling on a problem, you will be surprised at how simple sometimes a solution seems!
Develops your intuition
Journaling also helps to encourage your intuition – that higher part of your brain that knows what subconsciously is really right for you. By meditating on a topic before starting writing or taking a yoga nidra practice for example, this encourages a connection with your gut instinct and subconscious. It allows you to write freely, tapping into what you feel deep down, rather than what is on the surface or what you think you SHOULD feel.
Recording successes and mistakes
A journal also acts as a handy way of recording the things that you do, the mistakes that you make and the many successes and accomplishments that you achieve. By recording successes and failures you can begin to understand and learn from them in future. Sometimes our minds have a habit of forgetting the bad things and falling into unwanted behaviour patterns. Here in your journal, you can start to build awareness and make positive steps towards more successes and less failures!
Want to start journaling?
I hope that I have illustrated in the points above that a daily journaling practice can be a great way to make positive changes and that there are multiple benefits.
In the next blog in this series, I will delve a little deeper in exactly what journaling involves and the importance of making it a habit.