Updated: Jan 4, 2022
How journaling can help you in your everyday life.
I’ve always loved writing. All my life until recently, I’ve always been labeled by others and thus labeled myself as shy. As a child, I would spend hours writing fiction on my computer. I had a diary on and off for years. Writing was a creative outlet through which I could tell stories, as well as an emotional outlet to process my feelings.
In my teenage years, I lost the habit of writing and didn’t come back to it until my late 20s. Looking back now, writing would have been very beneficial in these years, going through lots of life changes and personal growth.
I rediscovered writing in the form of journaling or free writing when I did a yoga teacher training, which changed my life. I’ve been writing daily since May 2021, coming up on 7 months now.
Writing daily can sound daunting and you might think that you have no time. This is what I thought. However, the point of journaling or free writing is not to have goals. My only intention for this was to write one sentence. Just one sentence every day. Having such an accessible and easily attainable intention set me up for a consistent journaling practice.
If you’ve never tried journaling, or haven’t felt very drawn to it, I invite you to read on through the benefits and reflect on whether they would be of value to you.
1. Increase creativity
Have you ever felt stuck in a creative project, or any endeavor, where you feel like you just don’t know how to start? Journaling can help you not only be more creative in jobs or hobbies that are creative in the traditional sense; art, music, etc. but also in creative problem solving that you might need in a corporate job or other areas of your life.
There is no purpose for journaling or free writing. The only goal of writing should be putting ink to paper with no judgment. Letting go of any expectations, goals, and judgment helps let your mind run free and come to solutions that you normally wouldn’t think of. It can help you step outside the metaphorical box and examine the problem from another angle.
In creative tasks, journaling can help you let go of judging or doubting yourself and just going for it, fully expressing yourself through your craft.
2. Help process emotions
Have you ever found yourself anxious or angry for seemingly no reason and feeling like you just can’t shake the emotion? Journaling can help you process and release those emotions. Next time you find yourself feeling this way, try these questions as journaling prompts and scribble away!
What is the emotion are you feeling? Is it anger, anxiety, fear, happiness? Naming the emotion can help you get clarity and make sense of the emotion.
How does it feel in your body? Where are you feeling the emotion? Is it a tightening n your chest? Perhaps you feel anxiety in your stomach. Try to find a physical feeling in your body and write it down.
What is the situation that brought this emotion on? Can you pinpoint when this emotion started and how did the situation make you feel? It’s also ok if you can’t, just try to stay in inquiry around it.
How would you like to feel? After acknowledging what the emotion is, what is the one that you would like to feel instead? Is there something in the way of you feeling this other emotion? Maybe it’s a conversation you need to have or a task you’ve been putting off.
Are you feeling resistance to the emotion you’re feeling? Last but certainly not least, recognize if there is resistance to feeling this emotion. Feeling emotions of all kinds, unpleasant and pleasant, is only natural and a part of the human experience. However, most often than not, when feeling unpleasant emotions, we also feel resistance to them because we think we shouldn’t be feeling anxious, down, or angry. We feel angry about being angry. Or anxious about being anxious. This only throws more fuel into the fire of the unpleasant emotions, doubling or tripling them. Resistance only guarantees that the unpleasant emotion will linger in the back of your mind for longer. Try to stay in inquiry why you’re feeling that resistance.
When you can recognize what you’re feeling, name the emotion, recognize the resistance, and stay in inquiry around it, you can release the emotion.
3. Help clarify thoughts
Have you ever had the feeling that there’s just too much going on in your mind, perhaps making you anxious? Maybe you’re not even able to name what you are thinking of.
Journaling can be a powerful tool to get a sense of your thoughts. The act of journaling is putting your thoughts into a concrete form through ink on paper. Seeing the words written down can help your brain process and make sense of what’s going on in your head.
Next time your mind is going a hundred kilometers an hour, try this. Set a timer for 5 minutes or decide to write 1 page. Write down every single thought that crosses your mind. Maybe one thought leads way to another. And another. Perhaps you’re struggling with a problem. Try writing it down along with any thoughts that come to mind when thinking about it. The thoughts eventually lead you to the solution. Or the next step in solving it.
We have more wisdom within us than we realize. All the answers we need are already within us. We just need the space and permission to let those answers come. And journaling without judgment can do just that.
The routine of daily journaling has helped me increase my creativity, allowing me to express my authentic self through whatever I’m working on at the moment. It helps me process my emotions and be in inquiry around why I’m feeling a certain way, going deeper into my thought patterns and breaking the cycle of feeling resistance to unpleasant feelings. Journaling has also become fundamental for me to clarify and structure my thoughts in a way that helps me find solutions to problems I encounter daily.
I would love to hear from you — is journaling already a part of your life and have you experienced these benefits? If not, are you inspired to give it a go?