The Significant Benefits of Journalling

Woman writing in journal

Journalling can calm the noise in our brain and is a voyage to the interior.

Perhaps you’ve heard about the benefits of journalling and have been wondering how it works and what’s involved?  So I thought I’d explain more about it.

Journalling is simply about recording our thoughts, feelings and experiences on a regular basis – in whatever way works best for you.  I prefer to write them into a notebook, but others record them electronically, or use voice notes.

Personally I prefer to write them because it slows down my thoughts and it’s easier for me to re-access them and re-read them when I want to.

I buy a specially nice A4 notebook and I also have a particular pen that I designate as my journalling pen.  It’s important to have this type of ritual because it indicates to the mind that it’s now time for journalling – a personal time of self-reflection.

What does journalling do for us?

It gives us the time and space for emotional catharsis and helps the mind to regulate thoughts, feelings and emotions.  In so doing, it can help us to have a greater sense of our own self identity and help us to better manage personal adversity and changes in our lives.  It can also help us to recognise patterns that we were not previously aware of.  Becoming aware of our patterns of negative thoughts, beliefs & actions is often the first step in being able to deal with life’s challenges, and make changes.

It can be fun too because we can also record the positive things that have occurred in our lives that we may otherwise have forgotten!  I tend to write the positive things that I’m recording in a different colour (I use a green pen), because it means if I ever want a quick pick-me-up, I can leaf through the journal and read all the things I’ve written in green – the funny things that occurred, happy things, things I’m grateful for, positive things.  It always cheers me up and lightens my mood, and I’m always amazed at the things I’ve written knowing that if I hadn’t written these lovely things down, I would definitely have forgotten them!

It calms the mind

Writing is much slower than thinking.  So writing down your thoughts allows the space in your mind for more rational thinking.  Negative thoughts can be offloaded from the mind and considered in a different way.

It helps us to become more responsive rather than reactive

Writing a journal can help us to become more aware of our triggers and our corresponding thoughts, feelings & emotions.  Keeping a record of how we acted on triggers and the subsequent consequences, gives us the opportunity to reflect upon how we’d prefer to manage the triggers in the future.  We can become so much more self aware.

It can help with over-thinking

When we have something troubling us the thoughts tend to swim around over and over in our head like a grey soup.  Simply writing down any words, statements, fears, etc, about what’s concerning us gets it out of our head and starts to create space in our minds.  This can lead to a clarity that was not previously available.  By writing down the words it helps us to start to rationalise the problem and identify solutions we couldn’t see before.

It’s good for our emotional health

We can often be our own biggest critic and our self-talk can be very harsh at times.  Many people tend to dwell on how they could have done better, or how they feel they should have reacted in a situation, or what they should have said.  These caustic thoughts and words are extremely damaging to our mental and emotional health but they are often very difficult to erase.

When we take the time to record the events around a situation where we feel we could have acted or spoken differently, we can get a different perspective on our contribution.  This can lead to constructive self-reflection that we can learn from rather than the self brow-beating that keeps us in a state of self-intimidation.

We can track our progress

Perhaps you’ve just started a new project, job, or course of therapy.  It can be very helpful to chart your progress.  The journalling may only be for a certain length of time but it can be useful to have a sense of where you were when you started and how you’ve changed.  These insights can be very powerful in giving us information about ourselves which can help to build confidence and self-respect.

It can help with recovery from addictions

Regularly recording our thoughts, feelings, actions, triggers etc during recovery from addictions, helps us to track our progress and recognise patterns, helping us to become more self aware.  It can help us to hold ourselves accountable, keep recovery in check and lessen the risk of relapse.

It can give us space from the distraction of electronic devices

Journalling can give us much needed quiet time to devote to our creative selves.  Time to think about and consider things we normally put on our back burner.  For example – What are the 10 things in my life that are the most important to me?  What gives me value & purpose in my life?  Or you can use the space to create bucket lists, for example:  the top 10 countries I want to visit, my top 10 UK tourist destinations, 10 new things I’m going to learn in the next 12 months.

Or how about my 10 favourite films/songs/artists of all time. You could even consider –  I wrote a story what would it be about? You may even find yourself doodling and drawing letting your mind wander and who knows what your imagination might come up with….?????

And just as a little postscript – if you can’t journal, then try talking out loud to yourself in the car!!!!