Keeping a diary used to be something many people did to take stock of the day, write down experiences, hopes or worries, and a place to keep special memories. Today, social media platforms have essentially replaced diaries; we post experiences online, share our thoughts, and even connect with others who have the same hopes and dreams as we do. With so much of life spent online today, and with much of it happening at such a fast pace, the ritual of writing our innermost thoughts by hand in a physical paper book is a valuable way to slow down and reconnect to the present moment. This is why journaling – the art of keeping a personal and intimate record of thoughts, observations, ideas, anxieties and anything else that passes through the mind is a vital part of our daily routine. Whether you’re an experienced journal-er or have never given the practice a chance, read on to discover the benefits of journaling for mental health, and how to make it part of your daily routine.
The Benefits of Journaling
Journaling simply involves sitting and writing – or in some cases drawing – what comes to mind. Sometimes a journal will offer questions and prompts, whilst other journals contain stark blank pages, waiting to receive your thoughts. It can be practiced for as long as you want, and at whichever time of day you prefer; the most important part is that it becomes a habit you can benefit from on a daily basis.
Journaling can be an effective way to understand and work with our mental health, and studies even show reductions in symptoms linked to anxiety, PTSD, and depression after regular journaling sessions. Journaling can help take our thoughts out of the deep dark depths of the mind, and out onto paper, where we can observe them more objectively. When we keep thoughts or worries locked in the mind, this can make them scary and overwhelming, whilst writing them on paper can help us recognise that perhaps our worries and anxieties aren’t as true or important as the mind may lead us to believe they are. Journaling can help us prioritise thoughts, write down plans and goals, and set powerful intentions for what we want our future lives to look and feel like. Journaling also helps us process emotions, which can help reduce stress and calm anxiety.
When is the best time of day to journal?
Whenever you’re most likely to do it! Some people prefer to write in their journal as soon as they wake up, offloading thoughts before the day begins. Others carve out a quiet moment in the day, or practice journaling as part of their evening routine reflecting upon the day. There are no rules when it comes to journaling, so simply pick the time of day you’re able to spend a few quiet moments writing, and keep it consistent. For inspiration on when, where and how to journal, read on.
4 Ways To Practice Journaling
This type of journaling can be practiced at any time of the day, but may be best suited to the morning hours. Inspired by the Morning Pages practice found in the self-development book The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron, the idea is to open the page and simply let your thoughts tumble down upon it. Stream-of-consciousness journaling can help offload thoughts and worries, clearing the mind and helping process emotions. In the ancient yogic texts, our whirling worrisome thoughts were known as the Chitta Vrittis; thoughts that fluctuate and disturb the mind. By practicing this type of journaling, our thoughts can feel calmer and the mind more at peace. To practice, choose a journal like 5 Minutes In The Morning, with plenty of space to record your thoughts, to reflect, and even contains creative exercises to encourage intention setting at the start of the day.
Sometimes we need the right questions to get our minds moving, and by answering journaling prompts, we may even discover parts of our minds and ourselves we didn’t even know were there. The Morning Meditations Guided Journal includes reflective meditations and journaling prompts for every season, paired with serene landscape art to move you on the path to mindfulness. The meditations encourage you to be mindful of your thoughts, helping you start the day by feeling focused and prepared to take on the world. If your journaling practice would be better suited to the evening, choose the Night Meditations Guided Journal, helping you cultivate a peaceful and purposeful mindset. The prompts offer the ability to think reflectively, creating a calming night-time routine.
Manifestation is the practice of aligning our thoughts, beliefs and energy with a specific goal, with the intention of attracting it and bringing it into our lives. Journaling is a powerful manifestation technique, because when we write down what we want or where we want to go in life, we begin to make it a little more real and tangible. With 5 manifestation techniques, including alignment and grounding activities and raising your energetic vibration, the Note & Shine Manifestation Journal helps harness your magic, and could turn your dreams into reality. Manifestation journaling can be practiced any time you can set aside a few moments for yourself.
For some of us, sketching is more therapeutic than writing, and can help unlock our creativity to cultivate more calm and ease. The Horizons One Sketch A Day Visual Journal offers a space to draw, doodle, write, and document experiences every day of the year, creating an entire book of memories and experiences we can look back on once completed. Whether you’re just beginning to build your drawing skills, or you want a special place to sketch out what’s on your mind, this creative daily journaling habit is a great way to take a break in the middle of the day with a cup of tea to calm the mind.
The power of gratitude cannot be underestimated; research shows expressing gratitude is strongly linked to greater happiness, helping people feel more positive emotions, relish good experiences, deal with adversity, enhance relationships, and even improve physical and mental health. Practicing gratitude journaling at the beginning of the day can help us move through the hours to come with more appreciation and awareness of even the tiniest glimmers of goodness, whilst gratitude journaling in the evening helps us reflect on the day with positivity, setting us up for a calm mind and a peaceful night’s sleep. To make gratitude a part of your day for more happiness and health, use the Gratitude One Line A Day Three Year Memory Book; jot down something big or small to build an attitude of gratitude over the course of three years, helping make gratitude a life-long habit you can benefit from for years.
Now you know the benefits of journaling and the many different types, which style of journaling will you choose? For more ways to journal, explore the Positive Planner Wellness Journal, Note & Shine Self-Love Journal, or Being In Your Body: A Journal For Self-Love & Body Positivity.