Before blogging became popular and easily accessible, people use an actual notebook and pen to do what we now know as the “old-school” method of journaling. There are many reasons why paper-based journals are still more preferred over the screen-based one. After all, most influential people in history kept detailed journals of their lives, written by hand.
A paper-based journal can serve as your own history book and a long-term record of your thoughts, emotions, and important events in your life. Writing one with your own hand makes it more personal.
Staying dedicated to writing your life entries as regularly as possible can be nurturing to the soul and it can also keep things exciting and worth reminiscing as you move forward through life.
Here are five reasons why you should keep a journal and stay dedicated to it:
1. It serves as your personal book of memories
When you journal your life on a day-to-day basis, you are actually creating a record of your life memories which you can read and reminisce about when you’re older. It’s like creating a history of your life according to your own perspective. Journalizing your thoughts, emotions, experiences, and even those simple things that happen every day is like immortalizing these memories.
While you may remember the dates of special events in your life, writing down how exactly you feel during those events is just different. When you re-read your entries in the future, it’s just like reliving certain moments from your past through your own words and thoughts.
2. It’s a good way to release stress and just be yourself
Expressive writing is a good way to release and relieve stress, especially during those times when you feel strong emotions like wrath, excitement, anxiety, depression, frustration, uncertainties, even extreme happiness. Sometimes, a journal is the friend whom you can turn to when you need someone to just listen to your rants without actually needing to hear a response.
A journal offers a non-judgmental platform for your thoughts and emotions. You can literally write whatever you like because journals are typically “for your eyes only”. Once you decide fully that this book is only for your own pleasure and no one should ever read it aside from you alone, it would be easier for you to be your truest self when writing — no self-editing required.
3. It can help with self-improvement
Journaling can help you track your personal progress in whatever aspect of your life you record about. People often go through certain phases in life where we question things — we have doubts, longings, and dreams. As you record your life, you will see when these doubts and longings occur, when and how your dreams are achieved, or when you decide to have a new dream instead.
By journalizing your life, you are not only expressing yourself — you are also creating yourself. When you write your thoughts, feelings, questions, experiences, and inner dreams, you can easily look back and assess your progress. You can take note of certain behavioral patterns and influences in your life, and decide which ones are helpful for your self-improvement and which ones you need to avoid.
4. It’s good for the brain
Keeping a journal can help improve memory, boost critical thinking and problem-solving skills, and nurture creativity. Regular writing can also help you learn to organize and communicate complex ideas effectively.
By dedicating a few minutes daily to journalize the events of the day, it can eliminate mental clutters through organizing these thoughts and experience into chunks of information, making it easier for the brain to process. When your mind is clear, your focus is improved and brainstorming ideas effectively becomes more doable.
5. It’s good for your mental health
Because a journal can serve as an outlet to let off steam and release stress, keeping one is generally good for your mental health. By writing what you feel — your sorrow, your worries, your struggles — in a judgment-free zone, you will somehow relieve your stress and feel calm. Further, regular entries on your journal can help you re-live your insights, emotions, and experiences in a safe environment where you can deal with them without fear of other people’s opinions.
A journal can also help you understand yourself better. By writing your experiences and your feelings towards them, you will find patterns and triggers that make you feel a certain way. This way, you can easily spot those negative influences that need to be avoided. And because it calms the mind and relieves stress, expressive writing is also a good way to promote healing.
How to Start a Journal?
Starting a habit and staying dedicated to it is one of the most challenging things — but the challenge is usually only at the beginning. Make sure to keep these few things in mind when you are just starting out:
- Don’t be extravagant. Your journal doesn’t need to be something too grandiose. A simple and sturdy notebook will do.
- Keep it simple. You can write using any language or dialect you are comfortable with as long as you are expressing yourself freely. You don’t need to be strict with composition and grammar or use fancy words.
- Be honest. A journal is like your very own history book — it should be written with facts about your experiences, thoughts, and emotions. Make sure to write freely, honestly, and comfortably. You don’t need to write to impress — after all, it should be “for your own eyes only”.
- Keep it protected. If you write confidential information on your journal, make sure to keep it somewhere safe. Also, for added protection, you can use code names whenever necessary just in case it falls in the wrong hands.
- Just write. One of the reasons why many people cannot maintain their journal is because they tend to overthink their entries. If you want to keep things going, make sure to spend a few minutes daily to just write whatever you like — remember, you don’t need to fill in the entire page for every entry.
“Whether you’re keeping a journal or writing as a meditation, it’s the same thing. What’s important is you’re having a relationship with your mind.”Natalie Goldberg
If you want to get started but don’t know what to write, you may start by detailing the things that happened to you in a day. Starting with the day’s “facts” is a lot easier than writing down your thoughts and feelings right away. As you slowly get the hang of it, you will become more open and it would become a lot easier for you to get personal with your entries and be comfortable with it.
What are your thoughts about keeping a journal? Share your insights in the comments below.