Why should I? – is a common answer to the suggestion – have you ever thought about writing down how you feel, and why?
Even when you go on to explain; keeping a record of your thoughts, feelings and emotions can be helpful, there is still derision and disbelief but it’s true; the process serves to put your thoughts into context, you gain perspective with hindsight and at the very least, you gain some semblance of order from a page full of what were chaotic thoughts or random rambling.
Looking back and reflecting on past experiences can also be an immensely cathartic experiences, from a therapeutic viewpoint. According to a Positive Psychology article it’s suggested that “writing is the Swiss-army knife of personal change“.
In the field of addictions treatment, it’s common for people to be asked to complete a drinks diary or urge logs. Both of which are places where they record situational thoughts, feelings and reactions to given sets of circumstances. The process aids learning in the recovery journey.
Right now I am improving my well-being. I am practising self-regulation, boosting my self-efficacy… I am learning as I go, adding to my knowledge not just about this topic, but also about how I learn… This is not a positive psychology magic trick. Instead all of these outcomes are the shared products of a single, simple daily habit: I write something every day. (Robert Rebele)
With a diary you primarily record facts; the daily events and happenings of your life – little more than simple times and descriptions by date. In journaling, your emphasis revolves around your cognition about your reactions to situations and thinking mindfully about those events or circumstances. By gaining some clarity you hopefully, build a collection of self-made guidance, you develop your power to make informed choice and more positive decisions, or changes in the future, if or when you find it necessary.
Sometimes we all need to take a moment, to find activities that help us to refocus and relax (try a Mindfulness Companion), no matter where we are or what we’re doing (see here); journaling can also help with this process. You might not be all that smitten with this new-world mumbo-jumbo but it’s really worth trying to devote just a few minutes of each day for some Mindfulness.
The Health Benefits of Journaling are also well-known in clinical circles. Much has been written about the Psychology of Journaling. Many clinicians and therapists encourage their patients to write things down, for their own benefit and later consumption. It’s a useful tool for clearing out the bad and building on the good in your mind.
Dear Diary: …a growing body of research is suggesting that we could all benefit from keeping a journal, if not for posterity, then for sanity and good health. Studies show that writing about your day, your feelings and your worries may not only clear your head – helping you to sleep, feel more relaxed and solve problems – it could even improve your physical health. (The Telegraph)
Although this process is now common place, particularly in the USA, where some look on it as an emotional garage sale, many so-called Life Hackers also value the creative benefits of keeping a journal, it’s also what SMART Recovery call a Vital Absorbing Creative Interest (VACI).
Variety is the spice of life. Find many Vital Absorbing Creative Interests and keep looking for more. Life is full of amazing and new things for us to learn and do. Take it on. The choice is yours. (www.smartrecovery.org)
Almost every self-help book, and the ‘experts’ on daytime TV, consistently extol the virtues of keeping a journal. And yes, there are undoubted benefits to be realised for your mental-health but also, for your productivity in a business setting.
How to start a journal: We’re drawn to making our mark, leaving a record to show we were here, and a journal is a great place to do it. (The Guardian)
From the perspective of psychoanalysis, the process is a proven aid to self-realisation within any journey of self-discovery. The therapeutic values undoubtedly aid personal development however; as with everything in today’s connected world… beware the snake oil salesmen because Quacks and Charlatans abound when there’s money to be made!
Beware who you take advice from about keeping a journal but in particular, any subsequent evaluation of your written words and journaling activities by others because… There is Good and Bad [practice] in Journaling.
The Wellbeing Journal: developed in partnership with Mind, the mental-health charity, has been thoughtfully crafted and includes activities, colouring, drawing prompts, contemplative quotes and lots of space for you to write about your own thoughts, feelings and experiences.
Creativity and reflection can have a powerful, positive influence on our lives and The Wellbeing Journal, can help you enjoy practising these skills, every day and wherever you go.
There are many differing types of journals available today. You will be able to find something that helps you to get started recording your thoughts, as with everything, some are better than others.
They range from bare lined notebooks with dour and insipid business-like covers, to bright and illustrated colourful tomes of artistic excellence. Then we move through selections with suggested content layouts, accompanied by some motivational quotes and onward; to the full-blown (expensive) ‘lifestyle Guru’s Guidebook’ which usually provides almost no room for your notes or thoughts.
It’s probably a good idea to explain therapeutic powers for those who have never heard of them, or don’t understand them all that well however; it all seems a little pointless to me. After all, once you’ve read all about the author’s amazing ‘new-world’ techniques of secular zen mindful meditation, where are you going to write your thoughts. You might want to add notes to record your observations about processes that in reality are decades if not 100’s of years old… very odd?
Hey, Ho, I suppose that’s the wonder of today’s connected and monetized mindful therapeutic world… there’s always another life coach and aspirational well-being Guru vying for your cash. Ready to provide hours of private consultation (at a cost)… particularly in America!
Always remember… Generally speaking, you aren’t learning much when your lips are moving and… Experience is something you don’t get until just after you needed it.
- Do not dwell in the past, do not dream of the future, concentrate the mind on the present moment. (Buddha)
- The greatness of a man is not in how much wealth he acquires, but in his integrity and his ability to affect those around him positively. (Bob Marley)
- Be kind whenever possible. It is always possible. (Dalai Lama)