I’ll admit, I’m not a die-hard ‘journal-er’. I don’t carry out the task of journaling every evening before I go to bed, but it’s something I always want to get into the habit of.
The times I have gotten into journalling, I have noticed that I wake up each morning feeling somewhat more content. A little more happier, and above all, grateful for everything I have in my life – no matter how big or small.
Now before I go on, I’m aware there may be some of you reading this who will be thinking “hand on – what exactly is journalling?”.
Journaling involves the practice of keeping a diary or journal that explores thoughts and feelings surrounding the events of your life. I like to do journaling before I go to bed at night, using it as a tool for stress management and self-exploration, which does seem to work best when done consistently.
But even occasional, sporadic journaling can be stress relieving when the practice is focused on gratitude or emotional processing.
Gratitude journaling is the one that really does seem to improve how you feel on a daily basis. I don’t want to be OTT and say it ‘changes live’, but in some case, it can do emotionally. And when you’re emotionally feeling great, your work/love life/home life can dramatically improve.
One of the most effective ways to carry out journaling is to write in detail about feelings and thoughts related to stressful events, similar to how you would discuss topics in therapy, and brainstorm the solutions. But there are several different ways to practice journaling. You can even just write a few sentences about your day, focusing on what made you smile.
For me, I do journaling in the form of gratitude. I write down three things I was grateful for during my day, no matter how small or silly they are. Sometimes it can be ‘listening to my sister when she was upset’, or ‘enjoying a coffee with 30 minutes peace’. Sometimes it’s big things, like ‘securing a new client’ or ‘had a lovely dinner out with friends and family. The point is, it makes you realise how lucky you are and how life isn’t always so tough!
You can start by getting yourself a gratitude journal. You can get your hands on a gratitude journal here at most stationary retailers, some of my favourites are Kikki K and Papier. Even a cute notebook will do!
Here are a few ways that journaling can improve your life:
Stress reducing and relaxes the mind
An entry a day might not guarantee to keep the doctor away, but it will make you more likely to seek a doctors advice sometimes, because your stress levels and anxiety can lower. It can make you more in tune with your body, becoming more at peace with your busy, anxious mind, thus reducing stress.
You may be wondering why this happens. Well, research shows that when we think about what we appreciate, the calming part of the nervous system is triggered, decreasing stress hormones and releasing a whole host of good vibes into the body. Then, the release of tension can help you be much more relaxed, which can make you less prone to aches and pains!
You’ll be able to relate to people more and be empathetic
When you regularly analyse your own ‘problems’ when written down on paper, you become more in tune with them and ultimately, how to solve them., You become more familiar with how to tackle daily problems. This means that the more you do it, you can become more empathetic as a person, being more likely to relate to and sympathize with people.
When you’re more empathetic, this can lead to better friendships and an overall improved sense of well-being. Being able to relate to people and be relateable yourself means you can attract more people, and feel good about yourself. Plus, others can then feel more comfortable around you. So it’s a win-win!
3. Remove excess anger
If you focus on gratitude each evening – or even every morning if you’re more of a morning person – it can work wonders to relieve stress, anger, aggression, and other negative emotions.
When you focus on gratitude each and every day with your journal, It’s much harder to be stressed about life, the world or other people when you focus on the good things in your day. Your brain instantly zooms in on the beautiful, uplifting things, and we start to feel lucky for what we have, rather than unlucky about the things we don’t have.
Regular gratitude journaling encourages you to shift your thoughts and emotions from what’s stressing you out, to what you find valuable in life. life. When our thoughts and emotions shift towards positive reflections, our behaviors shift in a positive direction too.
4. Improves your mental strength
From doing my online research, it’s been scientifically proven that people who practice regular gratitude can be much more mentally strong.
By this, I mean more stable and stronger in their thoughts, with improved psychological behavior. Of course, journaling can’t magically make you a strong, no tears person if you’re naturally a softy at heart, but it can change up how you see things in life, helping you deal with things on a more level headed basis.
When you focus on gratitude, you are more clearly able to see the bigger picture and remember the positives in your life. You’ll be able to identify what things might be missing in your life, or where you need to go to get more support or help.
5. Switching off becomes easier
When you write down your thoughts, worries, or even the positives in your life, it can play a huge part when it comes to improving your sleep. Gratitude journals can even assist with sleep disorders like night terrors and sleep paralysis, especially if stress is a trigger.
By jotting down your thoughts, you loose the worry that you’ll ‘forget’ some of the concerns and stresses you have, which will then improve how rested you feel in the morning.
With each day you get more into it, it should make you even more open to gratitude and beginning a positive cycle of happiness.
Remember that positive emotions like gratitude activate the relaxation response in your nervous system. Daily gratitude has been shown to reduce the time required to fall asleep, as well as increase sleep quality and duration.
6. Achieve your dreams
This one makes so much sense: the actual act of writing down what you’re grateful for through your days can help you to see your goals, needs, and desires much more clearly. I mean, when we’re writing them down once a day and reading through them, they start to become more embedded in the mind.
According to studies, people who keep gratitude journals report more progress on their goals than people who don’t. Gratitude and being thankful can actually spur you on to work towards your goals, because you’re so much more aware of your dreams, and are reminded every time you journal away that your goals are not so far off.
Are you a journaling queen? Or have you never tried it but are keen to start? Do feel free to let me know your thoughts or experiences with it!