Journaling is a great habit to have, on par with sport and meditation. Journaling will help you in many ways, and it’s easy to stick to.
- Journaling Definition
- Effective Journaling
- How to Start Journaling
What is journaling
Originally journaling was understood to be the process of writing down thoughts or observations. Nowadays journaling is whatever you want it to be, any form of self-expression, can be writing, drawing, doodling, scrapbooking, recording, typing or anything in between.
Journaling is used to experience emotions, to know oneself better, to heal, to reduce stress, to grow, to boost self-confidence, to create new ideas and find solutions for complicated problems in life or in work. And for some journaling is just a fun activity.
Journaling vs Diary
A diary is simply used to record one’s life, write things down to remember them or to keep memory of them. A journal can take many forms. A diary can be a journal, or you can write about something that has nothing to do with what happened to you during the past day, like your thought, your plans, your ideas, and it will be a journal too. You can even just draw and doodle in a journal.
Why journaling is important
Journaling is much like sport or meditation, as it will help you to succeed in many aspects of life, not just keep memory or become better in writing. The power of journaling can be helpful in many ways. Just take a quick look at this academic article about a specific journaling technique called expressive writing, the benefits of journaling described in it are vast.
Benefits of journaling
- Journaling releases stress out of your mind, you won’t have to think about toxic stuff again once you’ve expressed it in a journaling activity.
- Journaling will help you create new ideas and process complex thoughts. Whether you have a specific difficult task in front of you, or there’s just a lot of tough things in life, journaling will help you find the right solutions and win.
- Journaling improves writing, even if you just write for yourself, never read it again and don’t try to make a good story. It’s like with any other activity, writing regularly make writing easier.
- Journaling helps you to be aware of your habits, actions and behavior. If there’s something you need to change, journaling will uncover it, even if you don’t see it in everyday life.
- Journaling activities such as doodling, or art journaling will help you draw or paint better and will make you a more creative person.
- Journaling can be fun, people who journal on a regular basis usually enjoy it.
- Journaling will improve your health. The importance of journaling for people who have specific health issues is well documented, various journaling activities, such as expressive writing, are often prescribed by therapists and social workers. Health benefits of journaling are so important, there are journaling centers and guided journaling groups in many hospitals, medical facilities and rehabilitation centers.
Journaling online vs paper
All journaling benefits amplify, when writing on paper. Handwriting, as opposed to typing on laptop or smartphone, improves your brain, basically making you smarter in the long-term and helping you process better ideas in the moment.
So, if you’re thinking of a specific format for your journal, should it be Evernote, a journaling app, or a paper notebook, always choose writing, not typing. I’m pretty sure you’re typing enough already, by the way, give a new challenge to your brain.
Another question that often arises – should I write with pen or pencil? Unlike with the handwriting vs typing issue, there’s no scientific evidence, that one of those writing utilities is better than another. Just choose what you feel like.
How can journaling help you succeed
If you are journaling by hand regularly, daily or week in week out, you will become smarter, as simple as that. If you’re journaling not just in a diary style, recording what happened lately, but using some good prompts, or focusing on specific issues in your life, that need addressing, you will benefit even more. You will find solutions, create ideas, shape strategies, identify your long-term vision and keep track of your progress.
If you start journaling in college, this will be a huge boost for your future life and career. Lots of folks graduate without a clear vision, what next. Where they want to go? What they want to be? How to achieve all that shiny dreams? And what are their own dreams exactly? Many people go on for year, or for decades, not knowing exactly, what they really want and how to get there.
Start journaling early, and success will come early.
If you need ideas for journaling, there’s nothing better than our own Writelight app and web-service. Try journaling starting with the prompts from Writelight for the next 21 days, and you’ll see how it benefits you personally & professionally.
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Apart from writing by hand in a notebook, which is still the most useful and widespread form of journaling, there are also some more types of journaling, they should be approached differently.
How to Start Journaling
How journaling can change your life
Journaling will help you to change your life for the better, and it’s valuable for everyone, no matter, how well she or he is doing:
- Journaling will help you assess your life.
- Journaling will give you the drive to execute on your dreams.
- Journaling will back you up with valuable ideas.
When you start working with any kind of life coach, whether it’s an individual program, or an open course, you will see, that the first step in any life changing program is evaluating, where you are, and understanding exactly where you want to go, who you want to be.
If you are journaling on a regular basis, you will always know this. You will see your situation clearly, and you will know, what life you want, you will know, if you need to change something, frankly, there’s always room for improvement, room for change, in any life.
Of course, knowing, where you are, and where you want to be is not enough to change your life. But it’s essential.
Also, journaling will provide you with the drive to change things. If you want something, and you don’t have it, you will keep returning to this in your journaling, and will not forget about it. On the other hand, if something is going wrong, you will also keep returning to it in your journal, you will get angry about it, and you will want to change the things.
I personally hate it when I don’t find time for journaling. Guess why? Every single time I’m journaling with Writelight, or every single time I’m journaling for at least 15 minutes, I come up with some new ideas. Sometimes they just go into “ideas jar”, but very often I execute on them.
So, journaling is not just providing vision, feedback and spirit, it also helps you to find solutions, to come up with great ideas.
Where to start
The best way to get into journaling, and we are talking about life-changing habit here, not a diary, is with Writelight app.
- Get something to write. If you have a fancy notebook and a good pen or pencil – great. But it can be just a piece of paper and an old pen.
- Open the app or the website. The app works without Internet connection, the website can be used on a computer, or on a smartphone, there are hundreds of backgrounds (just around 10 backgrounds on the app), so it’s more fun, as each background can provide ideas and inspiration, acting as a prompt itself.
- Choose the time. If you have just 5 minutes – fine. 10 or 15 minutes is better, and some psychologists say, that 20-25 minutes is optimal for journaling (it’s somehow connected to how the brain works, there are certain cycles).
- Pick a topic or leave a random topic. There are five topics in Writelight: Career (to find ways to be successful in your job, to achieve your goals); Happiness (to find a way to bring more joy into your life, to enjoy the life daily); Life path (to reflect on what you really want, are you getting there); Self-help (to improve your mood when you are feeling down); Creative thinking (to find new ideas for a certain task).
- Get a prompt and start writing.
- Keep writing, don’t pay attention to grammar or spelling. Remember, you’re writing for yourself, nobody should read that. If you will want to use something from your journaling for a blogpost or for a book, you will do the editing later.
- When the time’s up, there will be an interesting quote, resonating with the topic. Use it as a second prompt, to make sense from what you’ve written and summarize it.
Will journaling help me?
If you have a health issue or a mental health issue, and you wonder how does journaling help in your specific situation, I’d recommend digging deeper and reading a book called “Expressive Writing: Words that Heal”.
It’s not just another book on how to use journaling for mental health. “Expressive Writing: Words that Heal” is a serious work of two professional psychologists, and includes an effective six-week writing program, that will help you deal with some of the negative stuff in your life.
There’s also a great organization called Center for Journal Therapy, they work mostly with hospital, non-profit organizations and treatment centers, but there are some helpful programs and products for everyone, free stuff as well.
Can journaling be harmful?
If you have a condition, such as serious depression or a psychological trauma, journaling might be harmful for you.
For one thing, retraumatisation might occur, you might be not ready to bring back some memories, or experiences.
Second – journaling could end up in building a negative identity. If you’re writing about specific things, reflecting on yourself and your situation in a wrong way, you might end up thinking of yourself as incompetent, weak, not worthy.
So, journaling when depressed, when angry, when in grief, could hurt you, not help you.
If you have a condition, and want to try journaling therapy, it’s a good idea to seek for professional help and advice.
Kathleen Adams from the Center for Journal Therapy will create a special set of writing prompts to address your specific situation.
And if you are doing not exactly great in your life and you need journaling to boost self-esteem and find a way to realize your full potential, then writing with the prompts from Writelight should help you stay positive, and not to get dragged into a circle of negative thoughts.
Also, many life and career coaches use journaling and will provide you with competent guidance and good writing prompts.
Sarah Brassard is a great life coach, she can help you recover your life and prosper.
Sarah runs an interesting Life in Motion newsletter, sign for it on her website, and see if you like what she is doing. Sarah also offers a free e-book 10 Tools to Relieve Stress.
Take note, we are not affiliated to any writing programs, writers, coaches, etc.