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May 3, 2021

Journaling: the Therapy you don’t have to Pay For. {5 Benefits}

My first ever diary entry was, “I love ____.”

I was six years old. I had this cute diary with a padlock, and I thought my secret was safe from the world—until my younger brother cracked open the lock and told my crush!

If it wasn’t for that mortifying experience, I probably wouldn’t remember my first encounter with writing. This was the beginning of a positive relationship with journaling—a sacred place to leave my thoughts and feelings without judgement. Well…kind of (thanks, bro).

Journaling is therapeutic. Talking to others, especially in times of need, is also therapeutic and healthy, but putting pen to paper can have a different kind of effect. With journaling, we can write what we are feeling without holding back—even if it seems unreasonable, crazy, or messy. The freedom to express exactly how we feel without worrying what someone will think helps us to be truly real with ourselves.

When I write in my journal, I’m not thinking about how it will come out, and I don’t hesitate to write it how it is. It’s a time to meet with myself and God, and to let out what’s in my heart. Some pages show my frustrations and others pure gratitude. Some show my prayers and others my irrational thoughts. All in all, after journaling, I feel a weight lifted off my shoulders and my mind is a lot calmer.

The wonderful thing about journaling is the pages never judge and they accept whatever you have to say.

Journaling is for everyone.

Whether you call yourself a writer or not, it doesn’t matter. Anyone can journal. It’s not about punctuation or structure or whether you’re good at it.

Our mental and spiritual health is just as important as our physical health. Working from the inside out has allowed my body and mind to synergise in a positive way.

Here’s why journaling and writing with pen to paper can benefit your life:

>> Lowers stress, worry, and anxiety
>> Brings solutions
>> Allows for new ideas and concepts
>> Helps to develop a relationship with yourself and your spirituality
>> It’s a time to get real with yourself and your deepest desires
>> You can understand your habits (for example, emotional eating, stress, relationship issues)
>> Helps to create and maintain new habits
>> It’s self-expression and a way to develop your voice
>> Brings clarity and focus to the overthinker

I’ve chosen a few personal experiences to explain how journaling has benefitted my life:

Find solutions:

I’ve had seasons where I’ve been confused about life. Perhaps I was hurt or going through a major challenge. By writing out what I was going through, I’d feel a sense of relief and sometimes the next step would reveal itself to me. It’s like unraveling the chaos in your mind. By spilling out the cloudy thoughts, you allow space in your mind for solutions to come. You may even realise things aren’t as bad as they seem.

Your responses to life will be a lot calmer:

The less we bottle up, the more our reactions to life and people come from a place of peace and self-control. Journaling is a useful way to vent. In a moment of anger or hurt, people can say things they don’t mean to those they love. Or they hold onto grudges that can damage relationships. Writing how we feel about someone or a situation can release anger and frustration. It helps us to forgive, let go, and approach situations in a loving manner. I’ve also found writing to a person without actually giving the letter to them helps to release the pain, especially if the relationship is irreparable.

Live less in your head, more in your heart:

This is an ongoing lesson for me—living less in my head and more in my heart. But also finding a balance between the two—not all heart, not all head. When I act more from my head over my heart, I feel rushed, fearful, and also double-minded. Journaling is a great tool to get in touch with your heart—with the real you. It also helps the mind be in sync, to some extent, with your spirit. By being open to whatever comes up, it can remind you of what you truly want out of life and who you are on a deeper level. It’s a great way to see if what you are chasing is true to you or whether it’s something you think you should do (due to external influences).

Reflect on how far you have come:

Looking back on old journals freaks me out sometimes. In the past, I have written my dreams and aspirations, and now that I am living them, it feels surreal. I remember sitting on my bedroom floor sometimes, frustrated with my current situation. I’d write about what I want to do, what I was dreaming of. Today, I am living those dreams and heartfelt desires. When you look back at the struggles you have overcome in your past, it gives you great confidence that anything is possible. It’s a great way to inspire yourself with your own life story.

Less clutter from outside noise:

In this day and age, we can be bombarded with information. We might not realise how much noise in our minds could be considered “junk.” Sometimes, after mindlessly scrolling on social media, I feel drained and almost frustrated. There are studies that show how over-consuming information can drain our mental energy. By journaling, we can clear out the mental clutter, comparisons, and distractions.

For example, perhaps you have been working on a project but you look at other people’s work and start to doubt yourself or think you are behind. As a creative, I have to continuously learn to guard my mind against too much consumption and comparison. I know intuitively what I need to do and what I like creating. As do you. Give yourself permission to switch off from needing inspiration from out there and see what’s bubbling inside yourself.

Finally, you can journal however you wish—I personally love pen to paper, as I feel with handwriting, our thoughts flow in a different way than when typing. I’m sure there are many more benefits to journaling and I’d love to hear how writing benefits you.

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