Journaling is a popular habit that has an ever-expanding community on platforms like Instagram and Tumblr with expensive notebooks, washi tapes, brush pens as well as intricate artworks and calligraphy. Journaling has a lot of benefits but sometimes all the pretty and aesthetic journal spreads that are shared on social media sometimes don’t reveal the actual purpose of journaling and make it appear as a complicated art project that the average person can’t do. I’m here to tell you that you can journal anytime, anywhere, on anything and the fact that you can also make the most of this exercise with all the various benefits of journaling!
The big question then pops up: what exactly are the benefits of journaling? Does jumping on to the bandwagon bring any positive or productive benefits to you or is it just another internet fad that you won’t be able to keep up with for long? The truth is: journaling is so much more than a notebook looking pretty with colorful stickers or watercolor illustrations or pasted tickets or spilled coffee stains.
10 Benefits of Journaling
1. The Journal you write is a physical record of your life
It seems the only way we keep a record of our lives these days is by the tweets on our timelines or the posts on our Instagrams or the moments in our Snapchat. While these are all not lost forever (and are probably better preserved than the written text), they’re not an accurate representation of what’s going on in our lives. A journal is a place where you don’t have to put up fronts and appearances in an effort to get likes and comments. It’s where you can record the most mundane details of your life as well as all the difficulties you’re facing and all the second thoughts you’re having about your life decisions. It’s where you can talk about your fears and dreams and record your life as you live it. It’s where you can be true to yourself without any editing and filters.
It’s your unedited and pure autobiography. When you reach a point in your life where you are a leader, your journal will the record of your journey from square one. It would contain all the experiences that helped you and hindered you on your way to greatness. It would be a story of inspiration and wisdom to pass on to the next generation. It would contain anecdotes and stories and quotes and speeches that you can use to inspire yourself or to inspire others.
2. Journaling helps you understand yourself
When I mean “write mundane details”, I mean it. If you had a happy day, you need to document it. If you had a bad day that later became a happy day, you need to document it. If you had a happy day that later became a bad day, you need to document it. Recording all of these mundane details helps you analyze yourself and dig out patterns that you can use later in the future. For example, you could probably figure out a list of things that make you feel happy that you can do when you’re having a bad day. Or a list of things that make you unhappy, so you can avoid them in the future.
Another interesting exercise that could help you understand yourself is the “stream of consciousness” journaling where you simply let the pen flow and write without any inhibitions, without any conscious sense of direction. Just let your mind go and let it write whatever it wants and you’ll eventually find yourself revealing things that bother you that you weren’t really able to explain before. A journal is a safe way of discovering yourself without anyone else prying in.
3. Journaling is a healthy coping mechanism
A journal is a private place where you can talk to yourself without being judged by anyone. You can say anything you want and talk about whatever you like and sort out all the difficult thoughts in your head without anyone else barging in or disrupting you or steering the conversation away from you. A journal is one of the greatest acts of self-care.
Sometimes when people are depressed or angry or upset, they might write about it on their blogs or their twitter or their Snapchat. Most of the time, the likes and comments we get aren’t what we need. Of course, people mean well when they say “you can always come to talk to me” but let’s be real, how many of us actually take up these offers? What we’re feeling can’t be accurately conveyed to someone over the internet and often, outbursts like this end up making us feel worse than we did before.
There’s also the concept of filtering the emotions we show, just like how we filter the words we use and the things we say. The current internet generation likes blurting out everything on their mind and calls it “being real” but what if “being real” entails hurting someone’s feelings and potentially ruining relationships? Sometimes, it’s better to keep things away from social media. It’s not healthy to keep things entirely to yourself, therefore a journal may be the better option.
The same can be said of people who have depression or anxiety and don’t have anyone to talk it out with. Not everyone has access to a therapist or a friend 24/7. A journal is a cheap and readily available alternative for you to write about how you’re feeling, whether it’s in the form of pages and pages of text or just one page blacked out completely. It’s your choice how you want to vent out your feelings and no one gets hurt in the end. You also don’t feel the gaping hole in your chest when your post/tweet isn’t getting the validation you wanted from it.
4. Journaling helps you solidify your relationships and experiences
Journaling means writing down important events in your life as they are happening. It’s a fantastic way of recording things that have been happening to you. For example, if you were invited to a party or a seminar or a fundraiser, you’re definitely going to want to write that down. Maybe you met someone there that was really inspiring, whether from small talk or from a lecture or speech they gave. By writing it down, you have committed the memory down to paper and turned it into something tangible.
Maybe a few months from now, you’ll meet that person again and only because you wrote down your experience with them will you be able to bring up details from your prior meeting up. Otherwise, people will just remain as vaguely familiar faces. By stamping your experiences down in a journal instead of letting your brain eventually throw it out into the trash, you are able to make the most use of the life you’ve lived.
I mean, come on. Imagine saving files and books and pictures and movies in your computer only to find out that your computer has been steadily deleting things on its own to make room for the new things you keep piling in on it. Do the right thing: print your memories out so that when you read them, they are as fresh as when you wrote them.
5. Journaling helps you plan out your life and work towards your goals
We all have things we want to do, whether it’s starting up a new habit or getting rid of old ones. Maybe you want to take on a project or do a challenge, like NaNoWriMo or 100 Days of Productivity. Well, if you don’t write down these goals somewhere and hold yourself accountable, what are you going to do? Slack off eventually, that’s what!
By writing your goals down, you are holding yourself accountable and set a task for yourself that cannot be changed easily. “Wake up early every day” in writing cannot be changed to “Wake up early tomorrow” and deferred indefinitely. So do the right thing: write your goals down, no matter how small they may be and make yourself accountable with the help of your journal! Keep a regular log of how you are working towards your goals on a daily basis and watch yourself climb the ladder and build habits at an alarmingly efficient speed!
6. Journaling helps you to learn and teach yourself new things
You can use journaling as a learning tool. I’m not even joking. You could listen to podcasts and write down notes in your journal. You could read difficult self-help books and write summaries in your journal. You could print out poems and write your own analysis and commentaries in your journal.
It can even help you discover things about yourself as you keep writing out your thoughts and feelings and eventually analyze yourself. You’ll be able to see your growth across the span of the pages and feel a sense of accomplishment at where you are now compared to where you once were when you started journaling.
It’s also a fantastic way of building up your writing skills and flexing your creativity, especially since there’s no one around to pressure you into creating something through negative energy in the form of criticism and judgment. After all, creativity is just like any other muscle in your body; the more you use it, the more you can do with it. Use your journal as your private exercise ring and bulk up on these invaluable skills!
7. Journaling helps you become the better person you know you can be
Not only are you learning more about yourself but you are also able to sit back and deconstruct yourself while you develop. You know those sleepless nights where your mind decides its a great time to get hung up on that one thing you did or didn’t do? You could save yourself a lot of trouble by just writing it all out in your journal and figuring out what the right thing to do would have been. Now you can sleep at ease, having dumped all your anxieties on to paper, knowing that you’ve got a proper game plan for the next time you find yourself in such a position.
It’s also fair to say that people who journal are far more likely to be happier than those who don’t since the journalers document their moments of happiness (etching it more firmly into their memories) and also document their moments of unease and difficulty, thus relieving stress that could have otherwise piled up if they kept it to themselves or perhaps resulted in negative effects if they disclosed it to others.
Thoroughly convinced that journaling is a beneficial habit that you should probably start? Honestly, you couldn’t have made a better choice. Journaling doesn’t require anything at all! All you need is a pen and a notebook and you’re good to go. It doesn’t have to be an expensive notebook and it doesn’t have to be colorful gel pens. You don’t need to impress anyone with your journal and you don’t need to stress yourself out with trying to make your entries look pretty.
So what are you waiting for? Pick up a notebook and get started!