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How journaling is so much more than just writing thoughts down in a notebook.

Journaling is a fantastic mindful wellness tool, and it is one that is quite easy to do. In its simplest form all you need is a pen and a journal. But did you know that there are several forms of journaling? Ink and paper isn’t the only way to journal. 

Art journal featuring vibrant colourful watercolours in a min sketchbook sitting atop a slab of stone. Beside it is a red tray of watercolours. It shows how there are many journaling formats.

Today’s blog post not only welcomes you back after a brief hiatus for the Easter weekend (during which my laptop was in for repairs making it difficult to get work done) but it also introduces the wonderful tool of journaling. We are going to look at how we can use it in our daily life and why we should incorporate it into our wellness routine.

 

Before we get into the thick of it, let us first look at what journaling is. Journaling is a process we undertake that involve us getting our thoughts, feelings and emotions out of our head. Originally journaling was done by writing down our thoughts, feelings and emotions out onto paper - usually in a diary or journal - however there are now several ways in which we can ‘journal’ whilst still achieving the end goal of getting thoughts etc out of our head. I will get into the various journaling formats later, but first, I would like to note that thoughts can be good, bad, or anything else that lies in-between. The same holds true for feelings and emotions. So don’t hold back - let it all go.

 

So, what are some reasons you should begin journaling?


The TLDR version:

  • Improve self-expression/communication skills

  • Strengthens mind-body connection

  • Helps release “gunk”

  • Helps us puzzle out problems

  • Clarify our thoughts and feelings

  • Know yourself on a deeper level

 

For those of you curious cats, I invite you to continue reading for more in-depth explanations. 



Improve self-expression and communication skills

 

Journaling is the expression of our innermost thoughts and feelings, therefore, it helps us become more comfortable in acknowledging these thoughts and feelings of ours. It gives us the space to talk about anything we want to talk about (but may not always get to), and helps us cultivate how we express ourselves. And this can be in any way, i.e., the way we dress, the colours we like to wear or decorate our homes in, the way we speak to ourselves, the way we speak to others, becoming more confident with speaking (even public speaking) and so on. 

 

This is because by journaling we begin to use our voice and therefore we can begin to know our own voice and what we want to say. We know our own opinions and can stand firm in our beliefs. And this often naturally begins to take shape too, so you may not even notice at first but suddenly you will become aware that your self-expression has evolved. Journaling is a great confidence booster. In fact, you may even notice over time that your very vocabulary is changing and becoming more extensive simply due to working in different words into your journaling (especially if you write).

 



Writing out in a journal what the person is grateful for in their life. A black ink pen sits next to the open notebook.

Strengthens mind-body connection

 

This comes out especially in writing, but I have noticed that it works in typing and drawing etc as well. Our mind-body connection gets stronger when we use both simultaneously. Like when we write, we use our hand as well as our brain: our brain tells us to grip a pen and move our hand.


It is often why people find it easier to write things by hand first then type it up as we develop this skill during our formative years at school, so it feels more natural. This is why journaling originated as a written practice.


And of course, the more you write, the more you engage that mind-body connection, and keep things finely in tune with one another. It helps our mind and body work in higher harmony with each other.

 

 

Helps release “gunk”

 

This point is for the negative side of things. When you are under a lot of stress or worry or anxiety etc, chances are you will have lots of negatively-skewed thoughts, all of which are toxins in the mind and body…like a virus. And what do we do when we catch a virus? We take stuff to flush the virus out of our system - bye bye bad toxins.

 

Well, the same goes for our thoughts and feelings (the bad ones that is). Keeping them locked inside actually makes us unwell. Tell me, have you ever felt good when you are under a lot of stress? Or when you have anxiety? Likely not. Just like cold medicine or antibiotics help our bodies release toxins, journaling is medicine to help us release mental toxins. It helps us release the thoughts etc that cloud our sunshine because you are physically writing something out placing it elsewhere, like a page. It is almost as if you are picking it up with your hands and putting it down in a different spot (a trash can perhaps?). Ever had a night where it is super late, you are exhausted but cannot go to sleep because you have a lot on your mind of what you need to do tomorrow. So, you get up and write out your list then go back to bed and the next thing you know, you are waking up in the morning? Yeah well, that is journaling personified: you got what was on your mind out of your mind and now you can get on with other things. Like the lushness of sleep.

 

 

Helps us puzzle out problems

 

Journaling can help us work out problems or issues that we are facing as it grants us the space to work through and determine what courses of action we can take. You can use it to list out potential solutions and see which one is the best option. It gives you space for suggesting ideas and exploring them. Not to mention that journaling lets us get into a flow state, and when we are in the zone, solutions come easier to us. So let journaling take the wheel and see where it drives you.

 


Print outs of a progress journal that have been filled in. There is a blue pen with a fluffy pompom, one pink highlighter and one yellow highlighter.

Clarify our thoughts and feelings

 

This is probably one of the best things journaling can help you with. In line with better self-expression, regularly incorporating journaling into our routine will help you be able to clarify your thoughts and feelings and separate them from others.


You will know where you stand much more clearly because you will learn to draw definitive boundaries. It will encourage you to become more comfortable with formulating your own principles and opinions and you will also feel more at ease with who you are as a person. 

 

 

Know yourself on a deeper level

 

It will teach you things about yourself that you never knew - it can take you on a very deep journey with yourself (if you are willing). If you truly do want to know who you are inside and out, then find a way to journal and get to know yourself more intimately. I will caution you that this can get quite tough because there will be times when you open a can of worms that you may have preferred to keep shut but it is important to know every part of yourself: good, bad and all the shades of morally grey. After all, we are all a blend of those things, so we may as well learn about them. It teaches us self-acceptance and self-love and provides us with a solid sense of self-identity.


A screenshot of the main blog page for MyEirene.

 

As you can see, there are several reasons why journaling is a great tool to use. Now we will look at the various journaling formats. Traditionally, journaling occurred through writing in a notebook, however as times go on, journaling has evolved different forms. Whilst many will still journal in the traditional manner, the invention and increasing popularity of digital devices means we have ways to digitally record our thoughts and so on down. What this means is that journaling can be an option for anyone. If you are unable to write, then you can always journal with a voice-to-text option, or just make voice recording…heck, make a podcast! Perhaps you wish not to use words but images, in that case artistic journaling is more for you! 

 

We humans are clever critters who have developed many ways in which to communicate our thoughts and feelings.

 

With that said, the table below has highlighted some of the main formats in which we can journal:

 

Style

Description

Daily Log

Daily logs are used to keep track of your day: what happened, who you interacted with, how you felt throughout the day, what you did and so on. Ideally it is done daily but this is not a requirement. The benefit of doing it daily (or as often as possible) is that you see improvements much quicker, it helps you with your written language skills, and you are continually getting out all the “gunk”.

Brain Dump

A brain dump is when you write down all of the thoughts, feelings and emotions you are currently feeling – just getting it all out onto a page (or alternative device). It is used primarily to help clear out busybody, intrusive thoughts that are clouding up your mind. It is often used when one is highly stressed and needs a quick relief and it can be super at helping to puzzle out problems.

Progress Tracker

Keeping details of our progress in something: I.E. learning to play an instrument, something of interest, learning how to cook. It’s a great way to track our journey so we can see how far we’ve come. This type of journaling is quite snappy and rather scientific.

Reflective

This format of journaling is used when you want to go over past situations in order to evaluate and grow from them. It is helpful for problem solving and learning more about how you prefer to work through things which makes future problem solving easier. It is also beneficial for understanding your behaviour and where your strengths/weaknesses lie.

Blog

Short form of ‘web-log’; it is an online journal that is open to the public and can therefore be read by anyone. This makes it a good way to share your thoughts/opinions with others, create discussions and also connections. What’s more is that it is a fun, great way to talk about topics that you love (like what we do with this blog!).

Vlog

Short for ‘video log’; it is similar to a blog in that it is digital and done through online platforms, although those platforms are usually things like Instagram or YouTube. They are often used by their creator to show others what their day is like and to share their life with others, making it similar to a daily log just public instead of private. It can be really fun and creative and it opens your content up to those who struggle with/dislike reading but it does require a certain level of confidence to do!

Audio

Think podcasts and voice recordings. This format of journaling is a spoken form but without the visual side to it (like vlogging or art). This method can be wonderful for getting people more comfortable with public speaking and for voicing themselves clearly and concisely. It is good for those who struggle to write or create videos/artistic content.

Art

Art journals are visual diaries that allow us to work with our imagination and creativity. Sometimes words aren’t enough for expressing ourselves and so we need another means: art is an awesome type of self-expression. It can be done by making vision boards, photography, collaging, painting, drawing and so on, not to mention, it is also possible to create it in a digital form or analogue form.

Prompted

If you are unsure of what to journal about but feel the need to get something written down, then using prompts can be really helpful. You can write about the subject at hand. This can help with loosening up any hesitation when it comes to writing and help you find your flow state. It is also good for answering questions that help you get to know yourself better. Often questions are formatted to help you think deeply, i.e. How can you show yourself more love?

Free-writing

This is where you write/speak without any prompts or direction, just going wherever your mind takes you. It is probably one of the most common forms of journaling because you go wherever your mind takes you. It can often become synonymous with daily logs and reflective journaling due to their similar natures and subjects. It is much more relaxed than brain dumping and is often used when you wish to dig into your subconscious so that you can write reflectively. The best way to free-write is to start after some meditation, when your brain is relaxed and willing to flow freely.

 



A screenshot of an Instagram post by MyEirene with a written journal prompt for people to use.

I hope that this helps you understand how to use this tool better and that you are content in the knowledge that there is more than one way to journal! I love the fact that it is so open and adaptable as it means that almost anyone can partake in this practice regardless of whether they consider themselves a ‘writer’ or not.


Journaling at its heart is about self-expression (to our own self first and foremost) and it can be a wonderful tool to help you get to know yourself on a more intimate level.


I hope you enjoyed this read and try out journaling at some point – let us know which format you like best in the comments! If you are new here, then click here to find out more about what we do.

 

Enjoy the rest of your day!

 

Until next time,

Jamila

 

Please share your thoughts and takeaways with us below – we’d love to hear from you! If you enjoyed this read, then click here for more blog posts or share it on social media!

 

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