I hope you’re staying safe and well! 🙂
I recently attended a session online which discussed journaling and I thought it would be nice to share what I learned 🙂
Journaling can help us in so many different ways! It is like having a best friend who is ALWAYS there and helps you to release your thoughts from your mind onto paper – psychologists call this externalisation which supports our mental wellbeing and relieves stress. Writing has also been proven to help us understand as it activates the reticular activating system so we process the information and can remain focused, which is why we write for our university studies.
I first started journaling to help improve my mental health. I bought the book The Magic by Rhonda Byrne, which inspired and gave me a model to practise gratitude. I have found it extremely helpful and enjoyable, it has genuinely made me feel so much better and I’ve even started writing other experiences in my book as well, such as advice from therapy sessions, to-do lists and general notes.
Don’t make this a chore!
You can really benefit from journaling, especially if you enjoy it. Here are some top tips:
- Use different colored pens
- Decorate your book
- Don’t overthink, just write what you want to write rather than what you think you NEED to write (just write whatever is on your mind) – I tend to write to-do lists, gratitude lists, positive affirmations, notes for appointments, my prayers to the universe, my goals
- Have a writing space so that you can feel comfortable and relaxed (my writing space is my bed)
- Do what works for you, there is no correct way of journaling. The whole point is to make your mind clearer and make you feel better.
- Set a time to write so that you make it a habit – you will feel so much better when you are consistent.
- “The only time I have is the time I make” – Jane Westergaard
How to free the mind in order to start writing
If you are struggling to know what to write, it is called ‘Writer’s Block’. It happens a lot when students need to start writing their assignments. In order to overcome this, you need to write something, even if it’s random words, because it will snowball into sentences. Bolton and Delderfield (2018) talk about ‘Trying the six-minute write’. This is where you time yourself for 6 minutes and you write whatever is in your mind, no matter what it is (don’t worry about grammar or punctuation and don’t stop, just keep going). This will help unblock your mind. Imagine someone asking you “what’s on your mind?” and write about that.
Journaling can help you when you need to write a personal statement or when you get asked questions at interviews. Personally, journaling about my work experiences will really help me in the future because I now need to update my CV and I’m struggling to remember everything that I’ve done. Also, if someone was to ask me to draw upon experience during an interview, I would have to really think hard to remember good situations (our minds tend to remember negative experiences more easily than good experiences). Therefore, whenever something good has happened at your place of work or you have discovered a new interest/passion, writing it down will for sure help you in your future careers!
Is journaling right for you?
The greatest advice to answer this question is “give it a proper go!” For example, try writing in your journal for 15 minutes twice a week and see if it has helped you. It is important that your do what works for you. You can try different ways of journaling such as using photographs, drawing/sketching, bulletpoints, audio recordings, Snapchatting your friends or saving a video of what has happened in your day. There has been interesting research done which proves that writing by hand enables you to process what you write more than if you were to type it (because typing is a lot faster). If you are writing by hand in a lecture theatre when your lecturer is talking, you will use a different part of your brain to process what the lecturer is saying more, so that you can summarise what they have said (whereas if you were to type up what they have said, you will most likely just type every single word they say).
Discover what works for you. If journaling doesn’t help you, you could try painting, drawing and other techniques.
Journaling with dyslexia
When I was in this session online, one of the viewers mentioned that they had dyslexia and often felt bad about themselves for making mistakes in their writing and they found it difficult. The advice given was to do journaling little and often rather than forcing yourself to write for a set time. If journaling feels like a struggle for you, it is important to discover what makes you feel good, so you could try the other methods suggested above like drawing, etc. Also remember, this writing is just for you, nobody else will be reading over it so if it is helpful to you, do not worry about spelling mistakes, grammar etc. – this is purely for your benefit.
I hope this has inspired you to journal!
Thanks for reading!