But Really, Why Journal? The benefits of Journaling.
We’re diving into the second part of our three-part series covering what is journaling, why journaling is important, and how to journal. Today, we’re going to tackle why and what are the benefits of journaling.
First, let me address the elephant in the room (er.. screen?). You probably already know why you should be journaling. Or at least, you think you do - but reality is you haven’t really experienced it yet. Or at least, not consistently. After journaling for nearly 20 years myself, I understand your feelings, let me briefly share why I started.
In high-school (that was a loooong time ago) I swung like a grandfather clock’s pendulum between happy and depressed, never taking notice of the circumstances and triggers around it. During college, when academic pressures and social consequences ever rose I felt my inner self strain to get my attention. With deep moans that reminds me of the cries of the Death Eaters in Harry Potter, I finally focused on it.
I was lonely, confused, insecure, and angry. I sought answers, but first I had to lead with questions.
By the time college was well underway, I committed my life to following Christ where I learned about the practice of journaling. Each morning, I would journal for self discovery or journal for revelation on wounds I realized I had. I would imagine I was writing a letter to my past self, to a specific person with whom I might have bad juju with, or to God. Though to whom the journal entry is written to fluctuates, the benefits are quite consistent. Let me share how.
If you read my last article about what journaling is, you’d recall my very non-official, non-Google definition:
The act of putting yourself first to focus on your inner life via writing. Often used to untangle emotional knots, gain perspective, and process feelings, thoughts, situations, or circumstances.
“Emotional knots” is a spaghetti phrase that covers
- Self discovery
Journaling helps us untangle an array of emotional knots, a little at a time. Some knots are monsters and can take years (quicker with guiding resources from counselors or books). Other times journaling helps to ensure we don’t get tangled again. There’s three main ways journaling benefits us.
Journaling helps us slow down.
We can think faster than we write. If our thinking is left unchecked, we can think faster than we process too. That is why it's really easy to emotionally spiral down, never arrive at clarity, or fully understand what’s going on. Writing our thoughts forces us to slow down.
Writing throttles how fast we can think, therefore opens the doors to processing.
Journaling helps us to process.
Our mental talk can be a broken record. Full-throttle thinking relentlessly replays the situation, words, or actions, which feels as if an emotional weight is added with each new go-around. It’s brutal and you have experienced it first hand.
Because writing slows your writing it allows you to process by asking yourself questions. For instance: Why did I respond like that? Does this remind me of an instance in my past? How did it make me feel then? Did I have control of anything? What can I control?
Journaling that is question-centric is like testing doors to see if new paths are available to review, feel, and process - ultimately leading to new insights, and clarity.
Journaling empowers your day.
Journaling is self-care. Like diet and exercise is for your body, journaling is for your soul. It’s hard to fully live when negative-mental record players are on repeat. It’s hard to be open to new situations when anxiety floods your mind with mis-information.
Journaling each morning helps you prepare for your day. Whether it’s journaling for manifestation, or mindfulness it centers you for whatever weird, stressful, gross, or beautiful thing you’re going to come across. (If you’re a parent, you know you can hit all of those items within the first hour of the day!)
Imagine a situation from work that has you riled up. What happens when you encounter another thing that frustrates you? For me, if my emotional knot is already tight because of work, it starts choking off my ability to approach my kids, friends, or other situations with logic, grace, and poise. However, if I journal before work - preparing for the day - and then maybe quickly after - repairing the day - I’ve loosened the knot and can handle more.
But how do we journal? We’ll tackle that in our next post in this Journaling 101-esque series.
If you would like to get started but don’t know where to begin, we have a fun and crafty way to explore: Journaling paper-craft kits (aka art therapy) covering topics of words of affirmation or self-talk, (great for kids and adults), and forgiveness or baggage (perfect for adults).
If you have questions about journaling, please feel free to contact me - I’d love to answer you!