*Explicit language warning 😀 in this post…
I don’t feel like I am alone in this when I say that I have the best of intentions when it comes to making the time to write in my journal
But… where do I start? What do I say? Somehow, my therapy via written word always finds a way of brushing itself aside with “I don’t have the time right now. Maybe later” and “Its 2:38 am, I should sleep. Ok, now its 3:02, 3:15, I’ll totally fall asleep because I’m so tired.”
Or, the all time most frequent anti-journaling monster…..distraction.
Why should I journal anyways?? Before I got myself on the journaling wagon, I read a bunch of information about the benefits of journaling in PsychCentral.com articles, books and even Huffington post. Why bother? Here’s a few reasons:
- Writing can be an impressive way of challenging the mind to find words that otherwise may not be used in your everyday speech. Thus, expanding your vocabulary and your brainpower. (higher IQ levels for the win)
- Writing can also help boost your memory by actively beckoning the mind to remember events or ideas and then recalling them to the present.
- Bringing you into a state of mindfulness, journaling can create a level of self-awareness of just how deeply an issue, situation, or an emotion is felt. It helps you truthfully live in these experiences, so that you may be able to relate more appropriately to others. Empathizing can be a powerful tool in emotional development. Being in the present moment, as well, can help to subdue the gravity of worries of the past, or the fiery pangs of the anxious ones to come. In essence, it’s helping you figure out your sh*&, so you can learn handy tools in dealing with your well-being going forward, and stop lamenting the worries of yesterday. (see what I did there?? I never use “lamenting” when I’m speaking to people. BRAIN BOOST POINTS)
- Others benefits, according to the PsychCentral.com article, can be related to problem solving, clarity of thoughts and feelings that can help you to know yourself better, and improving your interpersonal relationship communication.
So I touched on sleep above. Err, lack of sleep, rather. Has anyone had those glorious nights where your kids are happily nuzzled cozy in their beds and sleeping all night, yet YOU can’t sleep because your mind is running around anazlying and worrying about everything and anything?
The process of journaling has also been found to decrease the stressors that typically affect one’s ability to rest peacefully through the healing power of RELEASE. Dr. James Pennebaker authors a book titled, Writing to Heal, in which he expresses the true art of unblocking emotional barriers and traumas. We can give them a voice to be heard, understood, and therefore not over analyzed in our minds. He explains that writing exercises can
leave you with a stronger sense of value in the world, and the ability to accept that life can be good–even when it is sometimes bad.
I know all this and yet…. Think of an excuse, and I’ve said it to myself to avoid journaling my thoughts and emotions that cause me stress and at their worst, keep me from sleeping. Truth is, if I just took five minutes out of my day to write that “thing” that is sucking my awareness into it down on paper, the huge monstrosity of looped thought may just exit my brain altogether. And hopefully, for good.
Here is the kicker: Journaling is also an awesome lesson in self-discipline. And with self-discipline, practice makes perfect.
I’ve admittedly been highly unsuccessful at keeping up with any journal. It wasn’t that “I sucked at journaling” self judgey much? I just felt so overwhelmed with it, that I never even began to try. Frustration would set in before any therapeutic benefit could be reached. The answer was that I hadn’t yet been connected to a journal that fit my personality/emotional needs.
It was through a gift from a dear friend that changed my perspective on that feeling. Suddenly, I was given a daily theme, a dated logbook with meditations, and small practical guidance to look within myself. I found the points above were key factors in my adherence to writing behaviors. Helpful and simple tools, like this one below, are very powerful.
So, going through these insightful motions of jotting down my physical, emotional, and psychological thoughts for that day and relating them to an intention was my Aha! moment. I loved it, and looked forward to the time in bed right before I fell asleep when I could journal.
So, to Recap what we have learned:
- Keeping a journal is a healthy and awesome way to release emotional blockages and enhance your super smartness (which you already have a level of that for reading our blog;))
- You’ll need to find a journal that excites you, enticing you to make the time to use it as the tool it can be.
- Start slow. Pick a theme or an emotion to narrow in on in order to really understand it.
- Write quickly, without judgement, and in a space that can feel private and safe.
- Enjoy the process of opening up to yourself. You might be surprised at how in tune you become with your inner workings.
I’ll use my current theme as an example. It is related to one of my favorite books, the Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck The title speaks for itself. Buy it. Read it. Live it. You will thank me.
The Journal, also a gift, called “Zen as F*CK” A Journal For Practicing The Mindful Art of Not Giving A SH*T”, has me laughing like an awesomely carefree mad scientist and I am LOVING it. Each page can take less than 20 minutes. I find myself smiling when I am done, accomplished in my mindfulness task for that day.
One of the factors that I never found in my research about writing therapy, was the amazing affect it has had on my hopefulness. In the last 2-3 months since beginning this practice, albeit not daily but almost, I am slowly rediscovering who I was always meant to be. I am finding a woman who knows how to be confident in feeling happy, kind, warm, and balanced. Oh, and hilarious. Definitely hilarious. (if you can’t laugh at yourself, right?) And to think, it wasn’t that I found any old journal and started writing. This all started to happened because,
a journal helped me find my way back to me.
–-Psssst, and I totally dig this new me. She’s kinda awesome.
I hope you take this time to rediscover you through the art of writing. Because chances are, you’re freaking incredible. Have an amazing voyage!
Kristy is a doula, massage therapist, mom of 2 and homesteader in Virginia.