Most people have begun keeping a diary at some point and most fill a few pages before life gets in the way. Or else, that inner voice that tells us our thoughts are silly or that writing about our experiences is self-indulgent or a waste of time. In all likeliness, you will hear this voice from time to time. You will reach the end of busy days and feel too weary to put your thoughts in words. Some weeks it’s going to be more challenging to face yourself and to let those feelings spill out onto the page.
Journaling is and should be, highly personal and as a result, it can sometimes be overwhelming. But they don’t call it ‘working through your feelings’ because it’s easy. It’s also a habit and one that, once established, gets more natural. In fact, it becomes as releasing for the mind as a slow muscle stretch can be for the body.
If you are not sure that you owe yourself a few minutes a day to ponder on your life, your dreams, your ambitions, your self, then you need to start journaling even more. Perhaps though it still seems a little trivial, a little uncomfortable or self-involved. So here are a few of the reasons to keep a diary and just some of the many benefits journaling can bring:
Dreaming is a form of planning
Gloria Steinham once remarked that dreaming is a form of planning. I’m not sure if she believes in the law of attraction as such but the idea of making plans with dreams as your inspiration is one that resonates with us at Valenson.
There is something that happens when you write your aspirations down. Somehow it becomes more real, more like a promise. Once you have found the gumption to state what it is you want from life and where you want to be it feels more realistic than when it was just an idea in your head. Many find that stating their dreams in written form keeps them at the forefront of their minds and, beyond that, they start taking action to make these dreams reality.
Why is it that when studying we write notes? Why do we make lists? We do so because writing down helps us to remember. This practice strengthens your capacity for recall. Memory is a muscle that we need to exercise and keeping a diary is an excellent way to support this.
In addition to journaling helping us to remember, it also provides a record for reflection. Although it can be challenging to write our feelings down during difficult times, reading them back can help us to realise how far we have come. It can serve as a reminder that life is, in nature, a collection of trying times and happier times and neither are permanent, which can motivate us on those darker days.
With such busy lives and so many responsibilities emotions can build up. That’s why a lot of us actually love a good cry. It’s a form of release. Sometimes we don’t even know where it has come from, but we do know it feels good to get it out.
Now, keeping a diary does not mean you’re going to burst into tears on a daily basis, hopefully it will be the opposite. Because getting our thoughts and feelings out is detoxifying.
We have to start caring for our mental health in the way we care for our homes. A little tidying every day to keep the mess from accumulating to the point where it becomes overwhelming to deal with it.
We feel lighter after expressing ourselves, but it’s not always easy or possible to do this vocally and so writing can provide that release.
Keeping a diary though for mental health reasons though does not mean filling it with only negative thoughts and experiences. It also allows us time to reflect on happy times and uplifting days too. This is something that we have even less time for in the modern world. So it’s equally important to use journaling to relive the joys of the day and practise gratitude.
With all of our thoughts and feelings stuck in our heads, it can become somewhat of a shoving and shouting match. It’s difficult to work out how we really feel deep down because we’re having to listen to all these conflicting feelings and replay a series of muddled events in our heads.
When we write down our experiences and begin to express on the page how we feel about them, our thoughts become more organised. It’s then easier to process them and reach a place where we can work out what we need to do next or even just realise what we’ve learnt.
Once we have learnt to communicate with ourselves, it gets a lot easier to communicate with others. If you’re struggling to express yourself then keeping a journal is a great exercise. The beauty is that it doesn’t need to be beautiful or even well written. Your journal is for you only and you are free to write it as you wish and scribble down all your innermost thoughts and feelings in any way you choose. There are times when we feel as if we must keep all of our emotions in lest they spill out in ugly ways and cause further problems. Yet, keeping them inside only makes this more likely.
Writing thoughts and feelings down is a superb way to vent, celebrate, rage and give thanks. A safe way in which to search, discover, analyse and find truth.
By doing so we improve our communication skills and become more familiar with our inner emotions, desires and needs so that we are then better able to express ourselves.
We believe that keeping any kind of journal is rewarding. Yet, if you are embarking on a journey to better wellbeing, whether physically, emotionally, or both, you might want to consider our Holistic Body Journal. With prompts and advice, this journal is a guide to support you as you work towards a truly fulfilling life.