For some people when you mention the word journal they can have a pre conceived idea that it’s the type that you keep hidden under your mattress when your at school or college that starts off with the cliché phrase “Dear Diary”.
Journaling is an ancient tradition, one that dates back to at least the 10th century Japan. Successful people throughout history have kept journals. Presidents have maintained them for prosperity, were as other famous figures keep them for their own purpose.
At some stage in our lives we have kept some form of a journal to write down our thought of what’s going on in our day or life in the present moment, ideas of what we would like to achieve for our career or project we have in mind, or dreams or life goals of what our future maybe.
So what if you have never kept or are considering starting a journal, you may be asking yourself how can Journaling benefit me within my daily life or through a difficult period within my recovery?
Scientific evidence supports that journaling can provide other unexpected benefits. The act of writing accesses your left brain, which is analytical and rational. While your left brain is occupied, your right brain is free to create, intuit and feel. In sum, writing removes mental blocks and allows you to use all of your brainpower to better understand yourself, others and the world around you. Some of the positive effects and benefits of journaling are:
- Clarify your thoughts and feelings
Writing is a reflection of your thoughts just as a mirror is a reflection of your body. Journaling offers you a glimpse into your working mind like not other method can.
You get to know the real you – what makes you happy or sad, what you like and dislike, what you feel and where you find peace. In other words, you gain a heightened self-awareness of everything about yourself.
Generally as a consequence, you will find out what you need to do to get more of what you want and less of what you don’t want.
- Reducing Stress
Writing about your anger, sadness and other painful emotions can help you to release the intensity of these feelings. By writing it down and expressing theses feelings you will feel calmer and better able to stay in the present moment.
- Inspire creative
Everyone is creative. Even if you don’t think you are, then maybe you haven’t tried. Your journal is a place to write down anything that comes to mind. The crazier the idea, the better. Let your imagination wander to the farthest parts of your mind and record the journey. The more you practice experimenting with possibilities and opportunities, the more inspiration you will find. By journaling it is a great way to help your creativity flourish.
- Tracking Patterns
Many doctors advise their patients to track their physical symptoms to gauge their progress (or lack thereof). Similarly, journaling can serve as a kind of mental tracker
When you start to write, you may find yourself covering the same territory over and over again, which you only realize when looking back on earlier entries.
- Boost Cognition
All of us have experienced great times of joy and sadness in our lives. Journaling can help recall our pleasant moments while improving memory and comprehension. Just the act of organizing our thoughts and presenting them clearly on paper boosts cognition.
- Build Empathy
When you start to look at things objectively, you can better understand other points of view. One way to achieve this in your writing is to have an imagined dialogue with another person. For instances, how would this other person respond to a question about having hurt you?
When you’re open to other perspectives, you blame others less for your problems which help make you a happier person.
Amanda Ogden is from Sydney Australia, and has spent the past 13 years working within the welfare industry in both administration and case management assisting people with mental health issues, mild intellectual disabilities, acquired brain injuries, drug & alcohol, homelessness gain employment. She also loves travelling, creating jewellery, music, friends and family.