Did you have a diary or a journal when you were little? Do you remember the diaries with the locks on them and the fun pens that had furry tips at the one end? I am sure my diary writing went something like, "Dear Diary, today was awful my parents won’t let me go out and someone had on the exact same outfit as I wore today." Maybe you confessed who your crushes were in school. It was a fun thing to just vent and put down your deepest and darkest secrets when you were a kid.
In high school I read my first “self-help” book called “The Artist’s Way.”
In this book we are encouraged to do morning pages and just write what comes to our mind.
Now 20+ years later I’m journaling again. Every morning.
Journaling has become a benchmark of the self-care movement, it’s right up there with meditation, yoga, and working out on people’s daily to-do lists. Scientific studies have been done and prove journaling is beneficial. There are the obvious benefits, like a boost in mindfulness, memory and communication skills. But studies have also found that writing in a journal can lead to better sleep, a stronger immune system,more self-confidence and a higher I.Q.
Keeping a journal, according to Dr. Pennebaker, Professor of Liberal Arts and Professor of Psychology at the University of Texas at Austin says journaling helps to organize an event in our mind, and make sense of trauma. When we do that, our working memory improves, since our brains are freed from the enormously taxing job of processing that experience, and we sleep better.
This in turn improves our immune system and our moods; we go to work feeling refreshed, perform better and socialize more. “There’s no single magic moment,” Dr. Pennebaker said. “But we know it works.”
What do Albert Einstein, Frida Kahlo, Leonardo da Vinci, Thomas Edison, and Charles Darwin all have in common? Each one of these famous figures kept a journal or diary to record their experiences, thoughts, or feelings. Kahlo and da Vinci even used illustrations to express emotions and sketch out ideas.
Benefits of journaling:
1. Achieve goals
When you use your journal to write down your goals, you can keep better track of your intentions. This will help you stay accountable and serve as a reminder of what you need to do to accomplish them.
2. Track progress and growth
If you make journaling a regular habit, you can see how much progress or growth you’ve made by revisiting previous entries.
3. Gain self-confidence
Seeing your progress can also give you a serious confidence boost.
4. Improve writing and communication skills Writing improves with practice. When you journal every day, you’re practicing the art of writing. And if you use a journal to express your thoughts and ideas, it’ll help improve your overall communication skills.
5. Reduce stress and anxiety
Sometimes negative thoughts and emotions can run on a loop in our heads. This can be stressful when you’re dealing with a challenging situation. But if you stop and put your emotions down on paper, it can help you release negative thoughts from your mind.
6. Find inspiration
You can use your journaling time to brainstorm or let your imagination run wild. The inspiration that may pop up while you’re writing or sketching might even surprise you.
7. Strengthen memory
The Journal of Experimental Psychology published research that shows how writing your thoughts down can reduce intrusive thoughts about negative events and improve working memory.* Even the simple act of writing something down lets your brain know you want to remember it. That’s why note-taking is such an effective practice when learning something new.
Here are a few different types of journaling options to consider:
Write down your thoughts as they happen. The words and thoughts don’t need to make sense, you’re simply capturing your thoughts in action.
Food journal: Make a note of what you’ve eaten each day. Write down if you have cravings or binge, what time of day was it, what mood were you in, how stressed were you, what is going on in the day. This will help you be more mindful about the foods you choose to eat.
Fitness journal: Keep track of your workouts so you can stay committed to an active lifestyle.
Gratitude journal: Before going to sleep, make a list of everything you were thankful for that day, week, or month.
Sketch journal: Express your feelings, thoughts, and ideas through illustrations, doodles, or sketches.
Day’s events journal: Keep track of your experiences throughout the day. Whether it’s making note of a funny conversation or describing a new recipe you enjoyed.
Habit Tracker: Are you trying to start new habits or let go of some? Keep track of your water intake, 3 things you’re grateful for, positive affirmations that day, what you’re looking forward to.
To-do list: Instead of keeping a running tally of to-do items in your head, write them down. You can cross things off as you complete them and get a great sense of accomplishment.
Write down your goals every day.
Write down a brain dump everynight. Vent let things go. What didn’t work out or go your way today. Leave it there. Go to bed and wake up to start a new day.
Journal three things you're grateful for every day.
Journal your visions, goals, and manifestations. The things you are working toward. Write them as if they have already happened if you are manifesting something.
Journal your stresses. We do not always have to be positive. Use this as a way to release.
Here are some journal prompts to help you get started.
What are five things you appreciate about yourself?
What are three great things that happened yesterday?
Name the top three emotions you are feeling at the moment. What are the emotions you want to feel today?
What is the one thing you would tell your teenage self if you could?
What would your ideal day look like? Where would you be, what would you be doing and who with?
Describe your perfect home – where is it, what does it look like and who do you share it with?
When you were younger, what did you want to be when you grew up and why?
What do you need more of in your life?
If failure wasn’t possible, what would you be doing right now?
What do I know to be true that I didn't know a year ago?
What distractions get in the way of being my most productive? When do
I feel most in tune with myself? If someone described me, what would they say? What can wait until next week?
What brings you joy?
Describe a place where you felt happiest.
What was your greatest fear, and how did you conquer it?
Write a letter to someone that you always want to thank but have never had the chance to do so.
What is something that you would like to change about yourself?
Whether you’re into journaling or not, the benefits are undeniable.