We all know suppressing our emotions and limiting thoughts is unhealthy, but how often do we actually release them? Especially if we don’t want to offload our negativity onto other people?
Wait... I'm not a writer?
This is how keeping a journal can be a lifelong tool for our happiness and wellbeing. The best part about it is that you don’t need to be a critically acclaimed writer to do so. All it takes is the willingness to write exactly what comes through you, and witness how much ease you feel day to day doing so.
The reason for this is mindfulness. Journaling allows us to passively engage with our thoughts. It releases frustrations we hold onto from the past, and frees us from experiencing anxiety about the future. Most importantly, it’s non-judgemental.
Journaling for a healthy mind
Increased self-awareness and empathy is just some of the many benefits of journaling. It allows us to create internal peace especially if we have been provoked by an outsider, or a situation out of our control. It reminds us to analyse both sides, and it could very well help us resolve a disagreement. By doing so we are able to problem solve more effectively and handle life’s unexpectancies with more composure.
The health benefits of journaling are not only limited to the mind. According to research by psychologists James Pennebaker, PhD, of the University of Texas at Austin, and Joshua Smyth, PhD, of Syracuse University - writing about emotions can boost people’s immune system, especially those with illnesses such as asthma and rheumatoid arthritis.
Getting started with journaling
Author Julia Cameron’s ‘morning pages’ as described in her book ‘The Artist’s Way’, has benefited many people who are looking to open up expressively and get their creative juices flowing. Her ‘stream of consciousness’ style requires you to write three pages first thing in the morning. It’s believed to bring out thoughts and ideas you never thought you had and for writers especially, helps overcome the common ‘writer's block’.
If you’re looking for journaling prompts to get you started, then Byron Katie’s ‘The Work’ is a simple yet powerful process of self-inquiry that teaches people to identify and question the thoughts that cause their suffering. The worksheet consists of four questions and turnarounds which help people address their problems with more clarity.
It’s been reported by participants this worksheet improves relationships, reduces stress and increases peace.
Or for those who really like a challenge, take on one of Psych Central’s 30 journaling prompts for self-reflection and self-inquiry here.
When in doubt, write it out!