Journaling has always been considered a commendable hobby. Over the past decade there have been many studies that suggest that maintaining a journal can help you live a healthier, happier life. Apart from all the research available, ask any journaler, and they will say that their diary is more than just a notebook that they write in. It’s more of a survival tool, a mindfulness practise and a success habit.
For me, personally, my journal is my go-to for almost everything. I don’t know how I would’ve survived some of my lowest moments in life without my journal. It’s the place where I pour all my emotions and thoughts, this helps me manoeuvre my way through very sticky situations.
As the famous author of Eat. Pray. Love. Elizabeth Gilbert says, “If there are stressful things happening in your life, journaling trains you to stop, react, and make sense of it all. Even just make a narrative about it. Tell it in a story in a way that makes sense.”
With this, let’s see what a beginner in journaling should keep in mind.
Journal Step 1: Decide what you want to write about
Before you answer your what you’ll have to answer why you want to keep a journal in a first place. If you’re keeping a journal for a practical purpose — to remember events about your day or at work, then the answer is simple: Write down the events of your day. And yet in order to reap the full benefits of journaling, you’ll have to dig deeper than that.
Ultimately, to get the full emotional benefit of journaling, it’s best to tell a narrative, not just recap your day, and write through your emotions. Write about a few things that happened during the day and, more importantly, how those events made you feel. If you’re trying to journal your way through distress, it may help to focus your writing on positive outcomes as well.
Staring at the blank page with a pen in your hand while feeling all those emotions can be overwhelming, sometimes even underwhelming. To avoid this trap, the pro advise is to start small. Even if it is just one or two sentences in the beginning it’s okay, what’s important is that you are consistent and keep working through it.
Journal Step 2: Know and evaluate your purpose
Before you start writing in your journal know what you want to write about. More importantly know why you want to write about it. Beginning with the end in mind will give you a clear vision of what you want to feel or think after you are done pouring your heart out.
Knowing and evaluating your purpose will also give you the clarity about what’s the right time for you to journal. Some people prefer to write in the morning, while others at night. In all honesty, there’s no reason why you cannot write in the middle of the day during your lunch break. There’s conflicting research over which time of day is better for creativity, productivity, or emotional well-being, which ultimately means that the best time of day to write is the time that suits your own peak hours and the purpose of your journaling.
Trial and error works, too. Try writing in the morning for a week. If it’s not working for you, switch to another time of day and see if you fare better. Whatever time of day you choose, keep your journal in an easy-to-reach spot, which should serve as a visual reminder to keep up with your writing. Plus, it’s one less excuse when it’s time to write.
Journal Step 3: Choose a medium that works for you
In today’s tech-savvy world there are innumerable options that you can choose and pick from to give you the best result. Be it your computer, tablet, an app on your phone or the old-fashioned pen and paper, the choice is yours. There might be some cognitive benefits to writing by hand. But hey, whatever sails your boat, choose that.
What really matters here is that you’ll keep up the habit. Typing or even using a journaling app on your phone might feel more convenient or comfortable for you, so if that medium fits your lifestyle best and helps you journal regularly, by all means, do what works for you.
Here are some apps that have helped me make journaling a habit I love:
Evernote: This is great app to have if your purpose of maintaining a journal is to keep tab of your daily proceedings in one place.
Momento: If like me you are active on social media and share your day-to-day happenings on your social handles then you are already keeping a record. Momento will bring all your shared posts and interactions in one place and help you maintain your digital life journal.
ThinkRight.me: The journal feature of the app is one of the best I’ve ever used. You can choose the guided journal and set your questions to receive daily prompts to help you build the habit or can start on a blank page. Being a lifestyle and mindfulness app ThinkRight.me is well equipped to also give you the required assistance to help you mentally and emotionally unload and destress.
Journaling can be anything from a fun hobby to a form of meaningful therapy. It’s great to release those pent-up emotions in a journal and it’s helpful to have a rant.
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