The importance of journaling

How to get the most out of your journal entries

Believe it or not, I’ve found someone that will never judge you when you complain, call you out when you’re in the wrong without giving unwanted advice and always remember what you were wearing on a certain day, even when you don’t. 

This someone is yourself — in the form of a journal. 

A friend once told me she was “not fascinating enough” to keep a journal. Who would ever want to read about her repetitive days of sleeping, eating and studying? 

Everyone has a different excuse why they choose not to keep a journal — it’s too much work, it’s too invasive if someone else might read it, and the list can go on and on. But regardless of these excuses, journaling can provide an incredible outlet and can be an amazing way to reflect on your emotions. 

Here are four explanations of how journaling changed my life, and can potentially do the same for you. 

Immortalizes memories

The first time I started journaling was when I was in third grade — and the entries I made are all as awkward as expected. But regardless of that, they’re an immortal representation of who I was at the time, and how much I’ve changed or stayed the same since. 

The daily routines of your life are fascinating enough to be remembered regardless of what you may think. Perhaps not always the actions we perform, but the thoughts and feelings we have while doing them are unique and important. Being able to look back on them later in our lives is valuable.

Inspires mental organization

How many times have you ever actually thought in full sentences? 

Our minds are a constant, incomplete stream of multitasking consciousness. Forcing our minds to take the time to organize the endless snippets of ideas we have can make our thoughts clearer and easier to reflect upon. According to the Learning Solutions Magazine, the human mind forgets 50 per cent of new information after 24 hours and 90 per cent in a single week. This proves to be both inevitable and beneficial: we clear out our heads to make room for more important things. But there are some things you don’t want to forget, no matter how small they seem to be. Our minds simply can’t hold it all — but a journal can.

Acts as a cathartic release 

I’ve heard many times that it’s best to write about one bad thing and two good things within each entry — even if that ratio doesn’t always reflect how your day went. 

Writing about an ache you’re going through can be unbelievably cathartic. I don’t need to reread and relive the entries that hurt, the pages that are warped from tears dripping on the paper or the entries where I surprise myself with how angry and mean I once was. But writing them down in the moment can act as an incredible way to consider how you feel and release any negativity. 

Increases self-awareness

In recounting certain situations to my friends or family, I’ve sometimes found I’m warping the story, even though I don’t even realize in the moment. Even if it’s unintentional, it happens, being inevitably affected by my perspective and experience. 

In writing down how an event occurred, you’re forced to reflect on the reality of the situation and how you might be altering the story in your mind as a result of your own emotions.

Ask yourself: am I making assumptions about my scenario? Am I being unfair? Think of similar past scenarios you’ve experienced, how you handled them and then, propose next steps. Maybe you’re angry, but deep down, you know you’re in the wrong. Writing out the facts has helped me countless times to look past my own emotions and see the rational side of arguments. 

Even if only for 15 minutes a few times a week, journaling is such a small activity with such a beneficial outcome. It doesn’t have to be artistic and you don’t have to be a terribly articulate person. 

A journal lets you look back and see the exact moment you made a big decision, the moment as a child when you stopped being afraid of the dark, or your thoughts on the day you met your best friend or your significant other. It can be proof that you survived a burden you thought you could never overcome at the time of writing. 

It’s a testament to your experience, your individuality and your growth and something I promise you won’t regret trying out.

 

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