Have you ever kept a journal?
A lot of people think of journaling as an “old-school” way to document their day-to-day but it can be so much more than that!
Journaling can really be a powerful form of reflection and a way to work through some of life’s biggest questions and moments. It can be a way to document an experience, to help yourself remember how you felt during that time, or it can be a way to reflect on the past and process through good or bad times. It is also a way to turn your dreams into true goals by writing them out.
People have been keeping diaries or journals for almost as long as there has been language. And in the past 30 years, there has been a lot of research done on the power of journaling.
A 2006 study found that when asked to journal twice per week for a period of time, the group who journaled found an overall reduction in stress, anxiety, and depression symptoms than the group who did not.
So if this is the case, then why aren’t we all journaling more?
Possibly, journaling can be difficult. It’s not easy to put your heart and soul onto paper. It can sometimes bring up trauma or other emotions that you’ve buried. But those who journal and stick with it, tend to see these positive results because they are getting them out onto paper rather than bottling them up.
On another level, journaling forces us to organize our thoughts, and look at our story from other angles. This can help us process through these emotions and gain perspective on them.
“Journaling is a tool to put our experiences, thoughts, beliefs, and desires into language, and in doing so it helps us understand and grow and make sense of them,” says Joshua Smyth, professor of biobehavioral health and medicine at Penn State University and co-author of the book Opening Up by Writing It Down with pioneering journaling researcher James Pennebaker.
I don’t think it’s a stretch to suggest that journaling can be used as a form of (or a helpful addition to) therapy.
The thing is though, journaling is a habit. It’s something that you see the most results from when you do it regularly. It’s something you can add to your habit tracker and focus on making a permanent part of your routine. The benefits will be more noticeable when you stick with it.
So how do you get started?
You can start by choosing set days/times to journal. Write for 15-20 minutes on those days about anything you want, or something that is going on in your life. It can be current or past, or it can be from a journal prompt. The goal is to find something you can write about for that length of time. It doesn’t have to be perfect or completely coherent. It just needs to make sense to you.
Something to keep in mind though: just focusing on the emotions may not be the most effective way to journal. There is evidence that if you also write about your thoughts and how you coped with the stress of the situation is actually healthier for you as you process something versus just focusing on how you felt in the moment with no solutions or ways that you could move past it. The analysis is where it’s at. In other words, break it all down, go deep, and really think about what you are writing about and try to get at the why and how of working through it so you can also move past it.
And if you are stuck without knowing what to write about, we are here to help!
We’ve compiled a PDF of 90 Journal Prompts to help you get started with a journaling practice. You know, for those days when writers block sets in and you just need a little boost of an idea to get you going.
And, you can’t journal without all of the right tools! Check out our beautiful journals in black or rose gold AND our smooth as butter writing pens to get you started on your journaling journey!
We hope that your journaling adventure helps you gain clarity, reduce stress, and live your best life in the process. We all deserve to heal and be well inside and out. Journaling may just be one of the most powerful tools you need to help you get there.