Writing in my journal, journaling, reminds me a bit of writing in my diary as a teenager. To me it’s the grown up version. It is a space for me to get out my thoughts and feelings, process more deeply what is going on for me and to process and let go of things. I find it reduces my stress, calms me down and stops me ruminating on stuff. It also helps me develop more self awareness.
Research tells us that there are numerous health benefits from journaling. Whether you journal daily, are inconsistent with your practice, or have never journaled before, read on as I share some of the benefits for our mental health and happiness, some tips to get started and I’ll talk you through a number of types of journaling practice. Journaling is one of the powerful tools, along with meditation, that I use in my Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) course.“Journaling reduces the feelings of depression and improves our mood and feelings of happiness.”
The Benefits of Journaling
There is a wealth of research about the wide range of benefits for our happiness. These include:
- 1. Journaling reduces stress and anxiety
- 2. Journaling reduces depression and improves mood and feelings of happiness
- 3. Journaling helps you recognise your triggers and enhances self awareness
- 4. Journaling helps you to understand what you think and feel so that you are able to better communicate your thoughts, feelings and opinions to others
- 5. Journaling helps you sleep better
- 6. Journaling increases our creativity and ideas
- 7. Journaling is a mindful activity
“Journaling allows me the space to really connect with myself in a way I wouldn’t be able to otherwise. I love the feeling of sitting down as one version of myself, and getting up as an entirely different version. That’s what the power of journaling does for me.”Ginny Krauss, Greatness Coach and Visibility Strategist
Six Kinds of Written Journals To Get You Started
There are many kinds of journaling techniques. Here a 6 from me that I suggest to improve your wellbeing and happiness.
1. Free writing JournalThis is simple and really straightforward. There is no restriction on length or style. This is for your eyes only so don’t get hung up on how good your writing is or how neat your handwriting is. Just go with the flow, write what comes in to your head . You can start with how you are feeling and see where it goes.
2. One Line A Day JournalIf writing a page or more is daunting, try writing one line per day. It’s much more manageable. You could use prompts such as, ‘Today was a good day because’ , ‘Today I feel’ or ‘Today I learned’.
3. Bullet JournalThe bullet journal took off around 2013 and was created by Ryder Carroll whilst at university as a way to manage multiple tasks such as a daily to-do list, habit tracker and monthly goals and meetings. If you are more drawn to lists rather than writing prose, this could be the one for you.
4. Gratitude JournalKeeping a gratitude journal has been highly researched and the results show that a daily gratitude practice significantly increases your happiness. Simply taking time to write down 3 things that you are grateful for increases positive thinking and reduces feelings of anxiety, depression and stress. Check out my other blog posts on gratitude for more information.
5. Dream JournalThis was a popular one in my Happiness Club. Often we can have vivid dreams as our subconscious brain sorts through everything while we sleep. Writing down your dreams first thing when you awaken can allow you to record and analyse your dreams.
6. Unsent letterOne that I use with many of my clients is to write a letter that you never send. It can be cathartic to write to someone expressing how you feel . Some members of the Happiness Club also write letters to themselves.
“Fill your paper with the breathings of your heart.”William Wordsworth
Other Ways To Journal
If writing isn’t your thing, here are also five other ways to journal:
1. Visual JournalingI’m a very visual person and so I was so excited when i attended a Visual Journaling course by Cathy Hutchison that showed me how to create simple visual journaling entries even though I’m not artistic. I highly recommend her book The Simple Guide To Visual Journaling if you fancy giving it a try.
2. Art JournalAnother way to journal is by painting or drawing pictures. There doesn’t need to be any words.
3. Video JournalWith great cameras on our phones, it’s so easy to record daily videos as your journal entry.
4. Audio JournalOr simply talk into your notes app on your phone to record your thoughts.
5. Journal AppYou can also check out the many journal Apps on your phone.
How To Start Journaling
- 1. Choose your medium and get all the materials you require ready.
- 2. If you are going to be writing in a journal, find a nice notebook and pen.
- 3. Choose a time and place to journal. Set aside an amount of time such as 5, 10, 20 minutes. It’s best to start small and build up.By setting the same time each day, it will be easier to create a routine and then for it to become a habit.
Happiness Evangelist, Life Coach, Best-Selling Author and Speaker with over 30 years of experience, helping you to live a happy and fulfilling life.
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