If you keep a journal you may already know what a useful process it is, if you don’t keep one perhaps I can persuade you to consider it. Either way I hope this article will provide you with a few useful tips about journal writing.
Journal writing is not a new concept, it has been around for a very long time, and today a lot of people are practicing it. I feel there is something special about journal writing that helps us to process our inner thoughts and feelings
The benefits of Journal Writing
Journal writing provides us with a safe place to explore and store our thoughts, feelings and emotions. Writing in your journal provides an outlet for your inner dialog; you know, that voice that goes around in your head. When you have put your thoughts down on paper, the voice will go quiet for a while.
I sometimes liken it to creating a shopping list. Rather than going to the shop with our head full, trying to recall all the items we need, we write a list and then we can think clearly to find the required items. Similarly when we write down our thoughts and feelings, we clear our head and allow space for more clarity. Your thoughts will no longer be whirling around your head, you have let them go, knowing they are safely stored in your journal for you to look at and remember when you want. In particular this can really help with anxiety and general worries.
Research has shown there are a number of other benefits that can be derived from journal writing; for example studies have shown improvements in certain medical conditions, including arthritis, when participants have engaged in the process of keeping a journal. If you would like to know more about this just search Google or get in touch with me to point you in the direction of the articles.
How to get started
Purchase a note book or journal that feels right for you. Give some thought to where you will be writing and keep this in mind when you are making your purchase. Is this something you are going to keep in a desk at home, in your work bag or a handbag? This might make a difference to the size and style you can work best with.
Personally I feel it is good to have a physical journal to write in by hand, rather than having one on the computer, however the choice is yours.
Make sure you have a pen to hand – it might be that you want to keep a specific pen for this purpose; I use a favourite pen that flows really well.
Then find a time to start writing…
How and what to write
Remember you are writing for yourself and no one else. So you can write however you wish, either in note format or full sentences. Perhaps you like to write well or perhaps you prefer to do away with neat handwriting, correct spelling, grammar and punctuation. This is not a literacy exercise, this is expressive writing for you – so express yourself however you choose. You may find diagrams useful, or pictures, whatever works for you. Write from the heart and let it flow. Write about what has happened, how you feel, your worries, concerns and achievements.
Sometimes people write a letter to someone they are angry with, or to a loved one they have lost. The intention is not to send the letter but to allow yourself the opportunity to say what you would like to have said. This will help you to process the emotions.
There are no rules although I would recommend including the date, perhaps time and place, to each of your journal entries.
Writing in a journal may feel unnatural at first, just as other things that are new to us, but persevere and you will reap the benefits.
Allow yourself time to reflect
Every so often go back through your journal entries, spend some time re-reading your writings. Give yourself time to think how you are now. Consider what has changed, what you have learned, developed moved on from.
Good luck and let me know how you get on.