Yesterday was a statutory public holiday in Ghana, hence I enjoyed my rest by continuing a plan I started 3 days ago on the YouVersion app on my phone -Making Time to Rest. Today being the 3rd day lists journaling as an essential part of the rest process.
Writing, especially self-exploratory writing done on a regular basis, has been linked to emotional well-being and a strong sense of self-knowledge and self-trust. Writing gives insight, it gives perspective, it’s a problem-solving technique, and it can serve as an outlet for bottled up emotions, unresolved trauma, or for creative expression. Journaling is a great way to introduce self-exploratory writing into your life.
Integrating journaling as part of our daily practice does not take a lot of skill. I discovered my life took on a different turn when I started journaling-writing down my life on the canvas of a book as the days progressed into weeks, the weeks into months, and the months into years.
I would like to do a throwback to when my Dad got me my first diary. I was just thrilled at the mere sight of it, and the thought I had a diary, but I did not know what I was going to fill it with.
I went through his old diaries on the shelf of our library to gain a fair idea of what to put in my new found love in the form of scribbling ink. His diaries had a mixture of appointments he had fixed under the different dates and excerpts from church activities he had attended in his youth with lots of bible verses in them. He made journaling fun.
Back to me, I found myself journaling the day’s activities at the end of the day in the journal. A skill I had picked up in one of the movies I had watched where a sailor stranded on a ‘no-man’s’ land kept writing his daily adventures in a book he took along. This had then become the main theme of the series.
I again tried to create interesting activities with the purpose of filling my diary with fun-filled activities. “The day I almost drowned when I went swimming for the first time” when I could have just stayed indoors and played video games, “The day I met Akosua on my way to buy prepaid credit at a distant place from home” when I could have saved cost by purchasing it a few miles from home and buying top up credit for my new phone with the extra money I had.
I have been writing something about my every day for almost 4 years now. It has been one of the greatest and most freeing experiences in my life because I can actually slow myself down to think about what’s truly happening around me as well as my part in it.
What is Journaling? As an adult there are many great benefits to journaling as part of a self-care routine. It helps clear out all the ‘junk’, sweeping your mind clean to allow for breathing space. By journaling and documenting our thoughts we are participating in a process of deeper personal understanding which can have a very positive impact on our own health.
Journaling generally involves the practice of keeping a diary or journal that explores thoughts and feelings surrounding the events of your life. There are several different ways to do this. Journaling, as a stress management and self-exploration tool, works best when done consistently, but even occasional, sporadic journaling can be stress relieving when the practice is focused on gratitude or emotional processing.
One of the most effective ways to reduce stress with journaling is to write in detail about feelings and thoughts related to stressful events, as one would discuss topics in therapy, but there are several different ways to practice journaling. The method you choose can depend on your needs at the time, and your personality; just do what feels right.
There are two writing techniques–or journaling methods–which can help make your journaling sessions more satisfying, efficient, and effective. These two methods are the following:
- Proprioceptive Writing
- Morning Pages
Proprioceptive Writing – consists of listening to your thoughts and slowing down the thought process to the time it takes to write down what you’re thinking. It involves inner listening and an honest exploration of your thoughts and feelings. In addition, it connects your mind with your emotions, and it strengthens your sense of self.
Morning Pages – As the name suggests, Morning Pages are to be done in the morning; the waking mind is more open to free-form writing and can more easily jump from one subject to another without the constraints set by reason.
Journaling allows people to clarify their thoughts and feelings, thereby gaining valuable self-knowledge. It’s also a good problem-solving tool; oftentimes, one can hash out a problem and come up with solutions more easily on paper.
Journaling reminds you of a life worth living. I like to think of journaling as “my life’s story”. That alone makes it fun, enjoyable, and inspiring to write a little about myself and what is going on with me every single day. After you have journaled continuously for some time and you look back on the things that you have written you may realize that your life is much more interesting and deep than you once thought. In fact, if you are down on yourself a lot, journaling is a great way to get around this and discover that your life is truly worth living.
Journaling about traumatic events helps one process them by fully exploring and releasing the emotions involved, and by engaging both hemispheres of the brain in the process, allowing the experience to become fully integrated within one’s mind. Journaling can also help you to focus on areas of your life that you’re like to focus on more often.
When you start to write about your feelings and how situations in your life change your feelings you gain the ability to start to process those feelings. Rather than leaving feelings completely bottled up inside, you can put them down on paper and get them out of your heart and mind so you can process and understand them more which will lead to a more serene existence. This especially works well with feelings like anger, jealousy, resentment, etc. Putting these feeling out on paper and letting them take their course is a great way to stay balanced.
As for the health benefits of journaling, they’ve been scientifically proven. Research shows the following:
- Journaling decreases the symptoms of asthma, arthritis, and other health conditions.
- It improves cognitive functioning.
- It can strengthen immune system response.
- It can counteract many of the negative effects of stress.
The simple act of writing a few words, sentences, or paragraphs everyday can have a profound and instant effect on your life for the better. Journaling can change your life. It makes you a more interesting person through the years and makes you feel more interested in your life.