Journaling 1: Benefits of Journaling and Why You Need It.

A Better Life Through Writing

“Writing is, without dispute, the best facilitator for thinking, reading, learning, understanding, and generating ideas we have.”

-Sönke Ahrens

Everybody writes. This is most prominent in school. Your teacher, your fellow students, all of them write. Having said that, this isn’t the type of writing we’re going to be talking about. Somehow, we tend to think of writing as something tedious and an act we associate with homework, chores, and unpleasant things. Like an essay on an incredibly boring topic with a looming deadline that you have to meet.

Writing does not automatically mean writing papers or assignments. It can be a profoundly intimate act used for your self-development. Sometimes, it just means thinking. The act of writing is used to save something for future use, to solve problems, or to think about issues deliberately and mindfully. It’s a mental organization. But that’s writing in general. In today’s article, we’ll talk about one very specific form of writing – Journaling.

So What Is Journaling, Exactly?

Journaling is the act of capturing thoughts, events, ideas and is a great way to help yourself in a plethora of ways.  Journaling can and will:

Relieve Anxiety

Relieve Anxiety

Your anxieties and fears are born and live in your head.

But that doesn’t necessarily mean you can’t place some boundaries between you and them and gently evict them on paper, and let them live there instead. After all, there’s only so much space in your head, and if you have an unwanted tenant that keeps giving you problems, there’s less room for the cool tenants, the ones you like to hang out with, and the ones that put a smile on your face.

The simple act of writing down something that gives you anxiety is a way of limiting the power it has over you.
You give it a frame, and you give it boundaries, so it can no longer blow itself out of proportion and fill out all the available space in your head. It has a place now, a beginning, and an end. Now, you’re free to think about how to solve it.
And when it’s there sitting on paper, it doesn’t look that intimidating after all.

It looks solvable. When you just can’t seem to get something off of your mind, try writing it down in a notebook and see for yourself.

Progress Tracking

Set Correct Goals s

Journaling can help you keep track of your progress in any given endeavor and moves you closer to your goals. They say ”What doesn’t get measured, doesn’t get managed” and while there are some exceptions to this, it’s mostly true. When you have a goal that you want to achieve, it’s easy to get stuck in loops inside your head where you’re just deluding yourself and mimicking progress.  When you write things down, it gives you a blow-by-blow account of your true development.

Are you really moving closer towards the finish line?  What did you do today that got you closer to your goal?  Maybe you did something that derailed you from your mission, and that’s ok too, but writing it down will help you not repeat the same mistake again. It’s on paper now. It’s official! Thinking is unreliable and fleeting, words on paper stay.

Gathering Insight

Evaluation Strategies

Humans like patterns. We are creatures dictated by habit and the path of least resistance. Once you give journaling a try and dedicate yourself to doing it for a few days, you might discover insights about yourself and your behavior that have been eluding you. We lie to ourselves all the time, and sometimes, we don’t want to admit it.

However, putting pen to paper gives you a safe place to explore yourself and reflect on things about yourself you maybe don’t want to talk about or even don’t understand. Writing could be a fun journey into self-exploration. Do you know how much time you’re spending daily and on what?

Try writing down everything you do in a given day and how much time you’re spending on it.  As Princeton University Psychologist Daniel Kahneman points out in his bestseller ‘’Thinking Fast and Thinking Slow’’ – Humans are not very good intuitive statisticians.

When you study how you utilize your time through journaling, you’re no longer guessing. Most probably, you’re going to see some uncomfortable truths on there. For example, you may be greatly overexaggerating how much time you’re spending on productive tasks and watering down how much time you’re really spending on social media, daydreaming, breaks, and so on.

How To Journal

Now, with all of this in mind, most of you reading this may come to quickly reach the point of grabbing the pen and paper. Before you start journaling however, allow us to give you some actionable tips!

Stop overthinking

No Distractions

It doesn’t have to be perfect. This isn’t a competition or a showcase of any sort. Stop being your harshest critic. Just trust the process. Everything else will come. Especially nowadays, we’re predisposed to expect some kind of instant reward and gratification for everything we do,  but most benefits of journaling come with the long-term commitment.

So, stop overanalyzing and just write. Your journal is a deeply personal document, and no one will be looking at it. You owe it to yourself, to be honest, and it’s important not to be overly critical of your writings.  Just start pouring your mind on paper.

Don’t Force The Outcome

As mentioned, your wiring for instant gratification and some sort of outcome will be breathing down your neck. The trick is to enter a state of flow and let your feelings, anxieties, and ideas pour down and be released from your head onto the page. Do journaling just for the sake of doing it – Don’t try to force and don’t even focus on the outcome. Just focus on the task at hand, pun intended!

Find What Works For You

There are plenty of different methods and tools you can utilize for journaling. The most basic would be a dedicated notebook, some people prefer typing on a computer, and others like to record their thoughts on voice memos. It doesn’t matter, don’t get hyper-fixated on what method you’re going to use.

You can always switch, and you can keep experimenting until you find what gets the job done for you.

Conclusion

Writing and journaling are acts used for deliberate thinking. It’s not something reserved for aristocrats or 20th-century writers gently lit by candlelight. Use writing to think. Use journaling to get to know yourself, develop habits, negate anxieties and track progress. Most importantly, focus on the process, not the outcome. Like everything, the outcome is a byproduct of consistency and process.

So, get to writing, will ya?

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