Why and How to Start Journaling

Why and How to Start Journaling

I write because I don't know what I think until I read what I say.
-- Flannery O'Conner

It is tough to keep a track of every line of thought, emotions & physical sensations we have every single day. Research says each person has 50,000 to 70,000 thoughts per day. Interesting, isn't it? This is when we tend to scribble or draw or use a sticky note to hold on to some important piece of information. Young adolescents keep a diary with them & write about their crushes & insecurities & so many other things a struggling teen goes through.

When I introduce "Journaling" as a practice in therapy with clients, most of the time they imagine that teen writing in their personal diary. Well yes, you maintain a diary or a journal to work on emotionally regulating yourself, to follow & comprehend your thoughts & your body. There are number of benefits when you begin & maintain journaling.

  • Shed light on your thoughts and feelings

  • At times there is such a mess in your head! You don't know what you are feeling or thinking. Jotting down at that moment without judging what you write. Write as it comes & with whatever flow of thoughts.

  • Self exploration

  • With habitual writing practice, you know yourself better: what you like or dislike, feel proud of, feel uncomfortable with, your insecurities & challenges, & also the insights. In a research, first year college students were asked to maintain a gratitude journal for 3 weeks. Researchers found that there was a significant increase in their adjustment in University life, life satisfaction, gratitude & a positive affect.

  • Understanding priorities

  • Noting as much as you can allows you to find clarity about what's going on in your life. This results in prioritizing things in our life like work, family, relationships, & so on.

  • Understanding priorities

  • Noting as much as you can allows you to find clarity about what's going on in your life. This results in prioritizing things in our life like work, family, relationships, & so on.

  • Handle stress

  • It is essential to get out the pain & stress that is hovering in your mind constantly. You may try to distract yourself & avoid it, however, always keep in mind that something unresolved will continue to stay in your mind. Hence, externalize it through writing or drawing.

  • Better problem solving

  • Writing lets both sides of your brain to contribute in problem solving with logic, creativity & intuition.

  • Enhancing communication

  • Writing about misunderstandings, your perspective & others' helps to understand another's point of view & how to have better way of communicating next time.

  • Having self discipline

  • Setting some time aside everyday to write can bring a form of consistency & discipline in life.

  • Making you goal oriented

  • Journaling about our passions, dreams & aspirations can form a blueprint of something bigger. Writing goals signals to your brain "this is important."

How do you begin?

You can choose you write in a book or in your 'notes' on your phone. Some people find it soothing to draw or sketch instead of solely writing. You may begin with drawing & then move to writing to verbalize your feelings. Assign at least 20-30 minutes of the day. You can choose to write whenever you wish: immediately after an event has occurred or at the end of the say to summarise. Take into account, journaling is effective when done consistently.

When you write, avoid being bothered by the handwriting, punctuations or the grammar as it absolutely doesn't matter. Rather, a change in handwriting indicates change in the intensity or kind of emotions felt. You aren't going to be graded for what you express. It is a time & space for you to feel accepted & appreciated, & not criticised or judged. There are no rules or age limitation to this practice.

Journal writing is a voyage to the interior.
-- Christina Baldwin