"What's the big deal about journaling?", I hear you say. "I don't have time to journal!", is another one of the first things people say when we mention it. Well, I'm here to tell you why it's a big deal and how you can make time for it. But ultimately, why it is so beneficial.
You'll already be able to tell that we're big advocates of journaling, and for so many reasons! But many people don't know how to get started or why it's important.
Here are 7 reasons to start journaling today!
1. Writing enables a higher level of thinking, and creates focussed action
2. Handwriting increases neural activity in certain sections of the brain, similar to meditation
3. It helps us to learn
4. It sharpens the brain (imperative as we age!)
5. It influences how we think. I.e., recording positive throughs breeds more positive thoughts!
6. Sequential hand movements activate large regions of the brain responsible for thinking, language, healing and memory
7. Journaling forces us to slow down and be mindful
There is a study that shows the mere action of writing by hand unleashes creativity not easily accessed in any other way!*
Consider for a moment the original ‘handwriting’. It engaged touch, involving carving symbols in rock or clay. Our mind and body are primed for physical interaction which is why you boost your brain’s coding process (the neural pathways) when you write. The more you use these neural pathways the better your overall brain health.
Research from psychology professor Karin James of Indiana University evaluated children who hadn’t yet learned to read or write. They were asked to reproduce a single letter by typing, tracing or drawing it.*
All children were reviewed on an MRI scan. Those who drew the letter activated three distinct areas of their brain. The same cannot be said for those who traced or typed the letters, demonstrating that engaging the brain’s motor pathways shows benefits.
But starting something new can be daunting, even when we understand why it is beneficial.
The three objections we hear the most when we recommend journaling are:
1. I don’t have time
2. I don’t know what to write
3. I don’t like writing
We get it. Journaling isn’t for everyone.
But if you want to begin making changes in your life, this is a terrific tool to get you started.
If you’re telling yourself that you don’t like writing, I would encourage you to explore what it is about writing that you don’t like. Is it because your handwriting is messy? Are you embarrassed about your spelling or grammar? Don’t be. Your writing is for your eyes only. No one else ever has to see it. In fact, if you want to, you can burn it after you’ve written it! The simple act of writing down your thoughts and feelings will help, guaranteed.
If it’s one of the other two reasons, here are 7 tips that will help overcome this and get started.
1. Start simple. Record things about your day. What did you do today? Who did you see? Where did you go?
2. 𝗢𝗻𝗹𝘆 𝗵𝗮𝘃𝗲 𝟰 𝗺𝗶𝗻𝘂𝘁𝗲𝘀 𝘁𝗼 𝘀𝗽𝗮𝗿𝗲? (who doesn’t have 4 minutes to spare?) Fill in the blanks...
Today I did _____ and it made me happy.
Today I did _____ and it made someone else happy.
Today, I am grateful for _____.
3. 𝗚𝗿𝗮𝘁𝗶𝘁𝘂𝗱𝗲. The more gratitude we practice, the more gratitude we feel. Write down three things you are grateful for today.
4. 𝗣𝗼𝘀𝗶𝘁𝗶𝘃𝗲 𝘁𝗵𝗼𝘂𝗴𝗵𝘁𝘀. Thinking positive thoughts - and better yet, writing them down - on a consistent basis, breeds more positivity. If you find yourself thinking negative thoughts, consider what the opposite to this is and write it down.
5. 𝗩𝗮𝗹𝘂𝗲𝘀. Consider what is really important to you in your life... what you value the most. Can you explain what these words mean to you? Is your life aligned with these values?
6. 𝗧𝗵𝗶𝗻𝗴𝘀 𝘁𝗼 𝗱𝗼. Use your journal to write your to-do list for the following day, especially if it is the last thing you do before bed. It allows you to 'forget' the tasks while you get a good night's sleep.
7. 𝗛𝗼𝗽𝗲𝘀, 𝗱𝗿𝗲𝗮𝗺𝘀 𝗮𝗻𝗱 𝗴𝗼𝗮𝗹𝘀. When you write these down, you are more likely to commit to achieving them.
Remember, like anything, journaling takes practice. It might take a few days or weeks to get into a pattern and feel like the words are flowing but stick with it. Consistency is key.
Be kind to yourself. If you set a goal to journal at the same time every day and you miss a day, don’t beat yourself up and chuck it in. Start again later today or get back on track tomorrow.
And don’t expect perfection. We all make mistakes when we write. For me, my hand gets sore! My page starts out looking beautiful but by the end of it, my writing is messy and big, and I sometimes miss words. But in all honesty, I rarely go back to read what I’ve written, so how it looks is not important. It’s the fact that I have taken time out to be mindful and get my thoughts out of my head and onto paper.
For more tips and tools to help begin your personal transformation, subscribe to our newsletter 𝑴𝒐𝒏𝒅𝒂𝒚 𝑴𝒐𝒎𝒆𝒏𝒕𝒔, at www.moonbeammonday.com.au.