Ever since I learned how to write, I’ve never been without a journal. Research shows that keeping a journal is a way to be more mindful, and to think about what you’re experiencing and how it affects you and others. More specifically, journaling can also improve your communication skills and sharpen your memory. Studies suggest that if, when ill, you write about stressful events and reflect on them (reflection is key), you can improve your health outcomes. Writing in a journal is also a way to get better sleep and boost your self-confidence.
I agree with the American writer Joan Didion, who said in ‘On Keeping a Notebook’ (1966): “We are not talking here about the kind of notebook that is patently for public consumption; we are talking about something private, about bits of the mind string too short to use, an indiscriminate and erratic assemblage with meaning only for its maker…”
As another American writer, Susan Sontag said in ‘On Keeping a Journal’ (1957): “In the journal, I do not just express myself more openly than I could do to any person; I create myself. The journal is a vehicle for my sense of selfhood. It represents me as emotionally and spiritually independent…”
Didion and Sontag saw journals as a respite from the everyday world, a place to revel in and reveal oneself – on the page, instead of in public. There’s a reason so many successful people keep a journal: it works. Taking the time to gather your thoughts and experiences, and then write them down, is a simple way to manage stress, enhance creativity, increase happiness, improve health, and increase work performance.
The trouble is, keeping a journal isn’t easy. It takes dedication to this new habit and a willingness to open up when writing on a blank page. What have you done today? Who are you, really? If you are a tech type journaling apps can help you figure this out and help you establish a daily writing routine. But what if you don’t enjoy writing? Well, if you are a creative type rather than a digital one you will probably love visual journalling since it combines the visual (images) with the written (words).
A visual journal is just like a traditional journal, but instead of written entries, it contains drawings, sketches, doodles, or even clippings of photographs and magazine cutouts. It’s a collection of your feelings, thoughts, and ideas in visual form. Visual journaling doesn’t just help uncover negative emotions—it also gives you a chance to get to know yourself better. What do you like? What makes you feel happy? What inspires you? Intentionally seeking the answers to these questions can help create more peace and balance in your lives. Want to know how to start a visual journal? Follow this link.
Many journaling apps offer much more than just a place to write your thoughts and feelings. Several journal apps will allow you to track your moods, habits, and activities, as well as learn specific therapy modalities like cognitive behavioural therapy or acceptance and commitment therapy. Would you like to try a journalling app? Try these. Happy journaling!