Remember when you were in 4th grade and you kept a diary full of your deepest, darkest secrets? A detailed description of what you ate for dinner mostly, before tucking the book away from prying eyes, but keeping a diary is also a way of noting down and addressing our own innermost thoughts and feelings.
As an adult there are many great benefits to journaling as part of a self care routine. In the ancient yogic textbook, Patanjali’s – The Yoga Sutras, the term ‘svadhyaya’ is described as self study – the idea of studying ourselves as a means of self discovery. By journaling and documenting our thoughts we are participating in a process of deeper personal understanding which can have a very positive impact on our own health.
Writing by hand forces us to focus on what is important at that moment, pulling to attention our wandering mind which is, in essence, mindfulness.
Here are some of the reasons why it is well worth considering making journaling part of your routine.
- Manage Stress. Writing down your thoughts, concerns and worries is a great way of gaining a fresh perspective on a situation. In this way we gain mental flexibility to examine the issue from a different viewpoint and feel we can process a problem with a little more control of the outcome.
- Encourage Mindfulness. Taking the time out of your day to sit and write is good for winding down and paying attention to one activity. Writing by hand forces us to focus on what is important at that moment, pulling to attention our wandering mind which is, in essence, mindfulness.
- Boost Memory. Yes we’re all getting older and are aware of the affect age has on our minds. Writing things down not only reinforces our understanding of a topic it also helps us to retain that information. Journaling encourages us to process our thoughts in alternative ways.
- Mental Wellbeing. Scientific research has demonstrated that our actions and thoughts, through repetition, create specific brain patterns personal to each of us. Writing down our thoughts gives us an opportunity to redirect and influence our thinking habits.
If it’s difficult to start writing try working in bullet point form or create lists until you build the confidence to write more freely.
Now to the nitty gritty. Getting journaling.
- Materials – pen & paper. Couldn’t be easier. Try a blank notebook or use printable pages like these. Find yourself the perfect pen that you love to write with whether it be pencil, fountain pen or your kids colors.
- Start simply. If it’s difficult to start writing try working in bullet point form or create lists until you build the confidence to write more freely. Try a list of your favorite places or inspiring books you’ve read as a starting point if you feel stuck. The important thing is to put pen to paper without overthinking it.
- Practice. Maintain your journaling habit in the same way you maintain your yoga practice or other daily activities. As the more you practice…the more you practice.
So, find a pen, grab your journal and get writing.