Do you keep a journal when you were young?
I used to feel my journal is my best friend when I was a teenager. I had this diary with a lock gifted by a primary school friend. It’s a lovely little scented journal with a pink cover printed with a teddy bear and flower. Every page has a different floral printout. I love it so much.
I document a lot of things inside, mostly positive things. I didn’t know the benefits of writing a journal then but now think about it, keeping a journal helped me tremendously in those days. Besides writing about teenage girl fantasies, I also wrote down a lot of motivational words to myself and the kind words people said to me.
My biggest fear when I was a kid was to be isolated or lose friends. Thus whatever people said to me or treated me matter a great deal to me. During the period when I felt extremely lonely and depressed, every single kind word from people brought a ray of light to me. I wrote them all down and re-read them almost daily.
I would say my journal is my safe space. I felt comfortable writing everything done, including suicidal thoughts and my true feelings. There were also my self-reflections in which I face my own feelings, thoughts, and emotions directly and honestly.
Many positive moments were also being documented that keep me reminded and affirmed that I am valuable and everything is going to be alright. Whenever I open the journal, it feels like running into a comfortable embrace. It feels warm and understanding, and I feel safe.
Many of you might have had similar experiences when you were younger. However, as we reach adulthood, many of us have stopped using a diary, but the concept and its benefits still apply. That’s why I want to share with you today about journaling again, and why penning things down can be the best natural remedy for your mental health.
Before you continue reading, I have prepared a free printable mindfulness journal for our subscribers. It's in PDF format, friendly for printout or using on your laptop or iPad. You can duplicate the page for daily usage.
It's easy to use with guide on every page. The layout and probing questions were specially designed to bring the maximum benefits for you. I use it myself too :) Collect yours TODAY by subscribe to our Newsletter here!
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So, how can writing help you?
1. Create Awareness And Understand Yourself Better
When you are in your own head overwhelmed with thoughts and emotions, you can get even more stressed and confused. Penning your thoughts and emotions down helps you to sort everything out.
When you are writing, you start to engage your logical brain. Whatever is troubling you is laid out orderly. You can figure out what is exactly bothering you and attend to the problem.
Whenever I am feeling anxious or massively distressed over something and I do not know the reason, I will sort it out by drawing a mindmap in my journal or simply writing it down in Q&A format.
For instance, I will write down the question “What do you feel right now?” and answer accordingly. Then I will ask myself the next question “Why do you feel this way?”, “What could be the possible reason this thing/person causing you to feel anxious?”.
Through a format like this, I am able to see the situation more clearly, and also get to know myself better by revealing my true feelings, fears, and thoughts. This can come as a great help for us to handle the situations for now and in the future.
2. Regulate Emotions and Reduce Anxiety
Actively using your journal to track down your feelings can help you to regulate your emotions better. You are able to identify the triggers for your emotions or intrusive thoughts. For instance, as a highly sensitive person (HSP), I write down on what are the things that make me uncomfortable which helps me greatly to cope with similar situations.
In addition, when you are overwhelmed with thoughts or emotions, you might start to feel anxious from the feeling of not being in control. Putting pen to paper can help you to reduce the inner chaos. Everything starts to feel more manageable.
3. Recall the Good Times and Increase Level of Happiness
Writing a journal is the most common method self-help books mentioned if you want to increase your level of happiness. Mindfulness journals or gratitude journals are very popular tools to increase your happiness level.
By keeping a journal on positive experiences, it does keep you reminded and re-experienced the happy times all over again. A simple exercise is to write down 3 good things that happened each day. You will feel your happiness level enhanced just in 2 weeks.
The good things can be about anything that makes you happy that day, from a little kindness from others, or a smile from your friend, to the delicious food you ate that day.
I keep this habit of writing 3 good things that happen daily till today. It always puts a big smile on my face, or sometimes, a tear of joy when I read back on some of the journals.
4. Track Your Progress And Move Forward Daily
One great thing about journaling is that it’s not only keeping the precious memories but also your wonderful journey. Journaling gives you insights and records how you are doing overtime. From reviewing your older entries, you can start to see how you have been moving forward, and how you are doing better every day.
I do also enjoy recording down learnings from time to time. I started to record my reflections and insights after I started meditation. It helps me greatly in coping with anxiety disorder.
5. Identify Negative Self-Talk And Replace With Positive Ones
Besides the gratitude journal mentioned above, keeping a journal is a great way to replace the negatives with positives.
In my previous post, I talked about how negative self-talk or criticism can harm you. I have also talked about how positive self-talk can boost your brainpower and reshape your brain. Journaling is the tool for you to identify what goes in your mind daily and be mindful if you are being critical of yourself again.
Prepare a list of affirmations that you can review in your journal. Review those affirmations daily for them to get into your subconscious mind. Try to document more positive things every day and in the process, you will build inner strength and live with more optimism.
How To Get Started?
1. Starting by writing 5 minutes daily
My first tip is – Start today.
Yes, start writing today. In our mindfulness journal, we have provided all the guides for you in the question format. The probing questions and checklists are specially designed to help you to be more aware of your emotions and thoughts. Our journal also covers positive affirmations and gratitude journaling, which aims to cultivate your happiness.
It’s easy to follow. You just need to set aside 5 minutes today to write something and get the ball rolling.
2. Write In A Comfortable And Undisturbed Environment
My second tip is to write in a comfortable environment where you can be by yourself. This allows you to think more clearly without being disturbed.
Write everything that comes to your mind without judgment or fear. The journal should be your safe space where you feel safe and comfortable facing your inner self. If you are worried people might see it, you can set a lock to your document or keep it in a safe place.
With all the benefits shared, journaling is definitely the habit you should start today. Studies have proven that those who kept journaling for 15 to 20 minutes per day can: 1. regulate their emotions better, 2. see improvement in their memories, 3. better relationship management.
So, what are you waiting for?
Start the journaling journey with me, and share with me your progress and learnings.