Journaling, everybody’s talking about it and plenty of people are doing it. But what are the benefits of journaling? Isn’t it just writing ‘things’ down? How on earth could that do you any good, and why should you set aside time to do it when your to-do list is already never-ending?
The fact you’re so busy and overwhelmed is precisely why journaling should be a top priority. Chances are, you’re feeling at least a little bit stressed life is hectic and we are so busy on autopilot that we don’t often stop and spend quality time with our own minds. Well, journaling can help!
What is Journaling?
As well as describing events from your day, journaling usually involves noting down thoughts and feelings. It enables you to step out of autopilot and deepen your awareness of the patterns you’re in. Journaling turns your attention inwards, helping you notice your thought, feelings and to develop a more balanced way of thinking.
It’s an incredible tool for reflection, it’s cathartic, and it helps provide focus and clarity. Ultimately, it can have a positive impact on both your mental and physical wellbeing.
Here Comes the Science Bit…
Our brains have two sides or hemispheres. In most people, language skills and logical thinking are on the left side of the brain. The right side controls attention, memory, reasoning, problem-solving and is associated with creativity.
Writing is a left-brain activity that is logical and analytical. Journaling fully engages the left brain and the right side of the brain that can tune into feelings, reasoning and creative problem-solving. Both parts of the brain get to do what they’re best at, and they get to do it in tandem, allowing you to better understand what you’re thinking and feeling.
Taking this a step further, the physical act of writing things down reduces stress while increasing focus and motivation, making it easier to achieve goals and form habits. If you think something and don’t write it down, you’re only engaging the right side of your brain. The mere act of putting those thoughts down on paper means the left side of your brain is on-board too.
The power of this whole-brain activity is that it taps into the subconscious mind, allowing you to see things differently and feel more confident about the steps you need to take to achieve the change you want in your life.
The Benefits of Journaling
Simply put, journaling makes us feel better. Here’s a handful of things it can help with…
Improved Self-Awareness – Regular journaling will help you gain clarity about the situations and things that cause you to stress or to react emotionally. Awareness of our minds is very important to our wellbeing and emotional resilience. When we are more aware of the patterns of our minds we have more choice over how we go forward. You are more able to actively engage with the things that make you feel good and disengage from those that make you feel bad.
Strong emotional resilience – When we give ourselves the gift of time to reflect and calm our minds, we are valuing ourselves which is instantly de-stressing and we learn what we need to support ourselves. I often ask my client what do you need? The more we know what we need the more resilient we become. Emotional resilience is the ability to adapt and bounce back when something difficult happens in our lives.
Reduction of Stress – Writing down how you’re feeling and what’s causing you to feel that way helps release the intensity of these feelings. The emotional and subjective right-side of the brain is instantly able to share the weight of your worries with the logical, rational left side. It’s as effective as talking things through and always available for you.
Achieve your goals – Research has demonstrated that people who write down their goals are more likely to achieve them, the more clarity of what you want in your life ensures that you will get there.
Improved Relationships and Conflict Resolution – Writing about relationship issues or disagreements, rather than just thinking about them, means both sides of the brain work together to look objectively at the bigger picture and find a positive way forward.
Increased Problem-Solving Ability – If you only going over and over things in your head, you’re unlikely to reach a resolution. But by writing things down you become more objective of what is happening in your mind gaining more clarity and therefore things are easier to overcome.
Feel in control – When we give ourselves the time to write in our journal we are taking control of what is happening, increasing awareness, clarity and engaging our logical minds so we can tackle life head-on helping us to feel more in control.
Just write. Try setting aside some time every day and make journaling part of your routine. Ten minutes will do, 20 minutes is even better. Don’t think about what you’re writing, don’t edit, and don’t worry about spelling or grammar or making any sense. You can learn more in my post about how to create a journaling habit.
As well as the benefits of journaling outlined above, there’s lots to be gained from following a structured journal, focusing on a specific issue or topic, aiming for a set word count, or limiting your practice to a set of short, simple bullet points. But the key to getting started is to just let the words flow and see where they take you.
The CBT Journal
If you are keen to get started, The CBT Journal might be just the thing you are looking for, it’s a digital download product designed as a four-week project to help you understand your mind so you feel more in control and able to improve your mental health. Alternatively, it can form part of an ongoing daily wellbeing routine. Learn how to write your way to happy
Step 1 – guides you around the basic concepts of Cognitive Behavioural Therapy, journaling and how creating awareness of our minds means we have a choice over how we train our minds so they work well for us and our lives.
Step 2 – you will begin to develop more awareness of how your mind works through using the journaling pages which have a specific CBT framework to help you become more aware of the patterns of your mind.
Step 3 – Alongside standard CBT models illustrating the connections between your thoughts, feelings and behaviours, you’ll find tools and strategies to help you transform the way you think. You’ll learn how to reflect on your behaviour and develop new ways of responding to feelings and emotions.