Most people view writing as just another task to complete. I’d like to ask you to answer these questions, either on your own or in the comments below:
- When you think of writing, what is the FIRST thing you think of?
- When was the last time you wrote something that you weren’t graded/critiqued/evaluated on? Last week’s grocery list doesn’t count.
- If you’ve had to make an important decision in the past, did you write a pro/con list? Did it help you make a decision or at the very least provide clarity about your situation?
The beauty of a journal is no one but you will ever read it. You don’t need to be a “writer” to journal. You can have atrocious grammar, not know a thing about sentence structure, and misspell lots of words and still benefit from a journal. The best part of all? Its a hell of a lot cheaper than a therapist (not knocking therapists, and definitely see one if you have actual mental illnesses, please) and you can do it in your undies!
There’s no time or length requirements, and you probably already have everything you need. While a fancy actual journal is wonderful (I have one), it’s not strictly necessary to have one. You’re probably reading this post on a GREAT journaling device (phone or computer), and there are a ton of free apps you can use. If you’d rather write, a few sheets of lined paper in a notebook and a pen or pencil will do the trick. If a guided prompt is more your thing, WordPress has thousands of free writing prompts HERE.
Now lets return to the questions I asked above:
- Most people think of essay’s in school, though emails and texts usually come in a close second. While those are important methods of communication with other people, journaling is for YOU.
- To be completely fair, most of you probably can’t think of anything recent. For most people, it’s been years or even decades. I wouldn’t count blogging either because other people have the ability to read it, and therefore critique whatever you’ve written.
- Whenever I’ve had an important decision to make I write down everything that will be a factor in my decision because it helps me to physically see everything when I’m trying to figure out what to do next, and this is one of the main reasons I also journal. Getting into the habit of examining every factor of a decision, even small ones, helps when the big decisions in life need to be made.
And now, the most important question of all, WHY should you journal? I can only speak from my experiences, but these are my reasons:
- Journaling helps me to gather my thoughts on the day, so I have a convenient place to see how I was feeling in the moment.
- It also helps me expel negative thoughts and emotions. The act of writing them out gets them out of my head and onto a piece of paper that I can throw away/destroy if I so choose. While it obviously doesn’t eliminate whatever is causing the negative thoughts and emotions, it helps me gain a clearer perspective on the situation by physically separating my thoughts/emotions from the situation at hand. I have been diagnosed with anxiety and this REALLY helps me in the moment when I have a panic attack.
- I also enjoy the historic aspect of it all. I keep all my journals and like to go back from time to time to evaluate where I’ve been and how far I’ve come. I also make sure to record major life events in my journals so that one day my family will have a physical reminder of our history.
I hope you’ll take some time today to see if journaling is for you, and if you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to reach out!