Do you already keep a journal? If not, think about it now — there are many benefits to writing. If you do there are always new things to consider! Without further ado, 12 reasons that journal writing is a good habit to cultivate:
1. Goal setting and Tracking
Think Bridget Jones: a journal is a perfect place to make and track your progress toward new resolutions. Whether those resolutions are to lose weight and reduce your smoking and/or drinking habits, like Bridget, or are something else altogether, writing down both your goal and your progress toward it makes it concrete and “trackable”.
Regular journaling develops an attitude of gratitude by noting all the good things in your life. Writing about your unhappiness and stress can relieve the mental pressure you feel and make you more open to seeing how great things really are in comparison to life in other parts of the world.
3. Helps you sleep
Yes, sleep! Regular journaling has been shown to relieve stress and worry. Noting down concerns in writing can signal to your brain that these worries are being taken care of, and allow you to sleep peacefully rather than lie staring at the ceiling at 3 am.
4. Wakes you up!
Paying attention both to yourself and the world around you increases mindfulness. By noticing things and giving them weight by writing things down, you are building a habit of awareness. You will expand your sense of possibility by seeing more, feeling more, expressing more.
5. Increases your creativity
A further benefit to being more awake is that it helps your creative juices to flow. Practice makes perfect — and a journal is a great “for your eyes only” place to practice your art! Whether it’s sketching, trying out lines of poetry, writing down bits of overheard dialogue for a novel, or recording inspiration for your new song or design, a journal is an indispensable aid to creativity.
6. Seeing Patterns
Writing can help you recognize the patterns in your life. Many times what we think of as the reality we’re stuck with is really an accumulation of long-standing habits. By writing about our daily actions and emotions we can begin to see connections and patterns – and once we are aware, we can decide if we’d like to change and/or improve our habits and beliefs.
When you write reflectively about your dreams, your actions, your vision for your life, you begin to clarify who you really are. A journal is a non-critical arena in which you can discuss, question and analyze yourself, and build a stronger sense of your Authentic Self. You’ll also notice when and why your behaviour is in sync (or not) with your authentic desires.
8. Reduces Stress
Writing about strong emotion can reduce its intensity and calm your spirit. Feeling more in control of your emotions can also help you stay centred. Writing about a trauma over a period of at least four days, using both the facts of the event and your feelings surrounding it, has been proven to have physiological benefits.
9. Gets you Organized
If you’re feeling overwhelmed, scattered or buried under mental clutter, keeping a journal can get your thoughts organized. Writing things down helps you sort thoughts, feelings, and things to be done, so that you can rearrange them into more orderly groupings. Do you find that when you go grocery shopping with your list in hand it goes more quickly and efficiently, without your forgetting to pick up necessary items? A journal can help you to create that kind of list for your life, so that your priorities don’t get forgotten or shifted to the bottom of the pile.
10. Encourages Health & Fitness
Stay in shape by journaling?? Yes — studies show that people who keep fitness journals lose 2x as much weight as those who don’t. Writing things down bolsters your commitment to your goal and encourages mindfulness. Read more about fitness journals here.
11. Keeps you Learning!
Diaries and journals can take many forms. Perhaps you’d like to keep a journal of the books you read this year and synthesize your insights. Remember when you were a student, and took notes of everything you were learning? Become a student again and record the progress of your renovation or garden plan, or be sure to learn and remember all you can about the new hobby you’re interested in.
12. Improves Memory and Creates a Life Narrative
Simply noticing what is happening makes you more likely to remember it later. Writing it down consolidates those memories and also gives you a document to refer back to in future. Even if you aren’t going to share any of your writing with anyone, the act of creating a meaningful narrative of your experience by organizing it into a journal entry helps you shape and take control of your life. If someday you do want to share parts of your life with your children or grandchildren, you have a source document of energetic everyday details to draw from.
Has this convinced you yet? Is there just one benefit here that intrigues you enough to pick up your journal? I hope you will do so, and begin to explore your inner landscape this year.