The benefits of journaling: 10 reasons to start writing your thoughts and feelings

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If you thought that journals and diaries were just something for young girls, you were very much mistaken.

Journaling isn’t just about jotting down your thoughts and feelings – it’s a transformative practice with incredible benefits.

It’s no wonder so many famous people – like Emma Watson and Lady Gaga – keep journals.

Let’s dive straight into the 10 benefits of journaling!

1) Self-awareness

The wonderful thing about journaling is that it gives you a dedicated space for self-reflection where you can explore your experiences, thoughts, and emotions.

In fact, writing stuff down and revisiting it later can reveal various thought and behavior patterns that you may not have otherwise noticed (not unless your therapist pointed them out to you).

Trust me, that’s a good thing!

Because it can help you recognize your emotional triggers and why you do what you do. And that’s a great place to start working on yourself, wouldn’t you agree?

2) Emotional well-being

Did you know that writing in a journal can be therapeutic?

It’s true, journaling is a great outlet for processing and expressing your emotions – especially the not-so-pleasant ones.

I mean, you’re probably not gonna have trouble expressing positive feelings like joy or excitement.

But sometimes when it comes to negative feelings, you may hide from them or you may not easily recognize them.

Often, it’s not until you talk to someone or write in your journal that you become aware of how you feel about something!

So by processing your emotions, you’re releasing stress, managing anxiety, and learning to cope with challenging situations more effectively.

How does that sound?

3) Clarity and problem-solving

Ever notice how we often don’t have a clear picture of the way things are until we talk to someone about them?

Well, the same goes for writing about them!

Journaling is a great way to gain clarity and enhance problem-solving skills.

Let me explain:

By organizing your thoughts and writing about them, you’re able to get a better understanding of the issues at hand.

Journaling also helps you explore different perspectives and analyze various problems more effectively.

But that’s not all!

It stimulates creativity and aids in the generation of ideas and that helps you come up with innovative problem-solving approaches!

Still not convinced?

Then I have to drop a few more famous names – Thomas Edison, Nikola Tesla, Louisa May Alcott, and Frida Kahlo! Yup, they all kept journals.

4) Creativity and self-expression

You don’t have to be a writer or an artist to be a creative person.

A lot of people – irrespective of their vocations – need a creative outlet.

That’s where journaling comes in.

It encourages creative thinking and self-expression.

Plus, it provides a private and safe space to explore ideas, hopes, and dreams, fostering personal growth and a deeper understanding of yourself.

5) Goal setting and progress tracking

You may have a vague idea of what your goals are but until you write about them, you may not have a grip on them.

The great thing about journaling is that it helps you not only set goals, but also track your progress, and as a consequence, celebrate your achievements.

In short: Writing down your goals is a good way to stay focused, motivated, and accountable as you work towards personal or professional objectives.

6) Memory enhancement

I have to admit that my memory is pretty horrible.

When my husband talks about stuff that took place a few years ago, I often stare at him blankly. Did that really happen to me?

Now, it may be too late for the stuff you’ve already forgotten, but it’s not too late for the things yet to come. If you want to enhance your memory, you should definitely start to journal.

Personally, I’ve found it super helpful.

By documenting my experiences, journaling serves as a memory aid. It helps me preserve valuable memories and reflect on past experiences.

Why not give it a try?

7) It’s a great space to practice gratitude

I believe that if we all practiced gratitude, our lives would be so much better for it.

You see, when things don’t go according to plan, when we hit obstacles, when we get hurt, we get so caught up in the bad stuff that we forget about all the good stuff in our lives.

That’s why I wholeheartedly encourage practicing gratitude.

And what better way to do it than by keeping a journal?

Put aside some time before going to bed at night to write down at least one thing you’re grateful for, no matter how bad things may seem.

Here are some ideas: Your loved ones, your health, the food on the table, the roof over your head…

Now it’s your turn.

8) It’s also a great place for positive affirmations

I just love positive affirmations, don’t you?

In case you’re not sure what they are, it’s quite simple really: they’re positive phrases that you repeat to yourself to change the way you think.

If you have some negative beliefs that are keeping you from living your best life, you’re going to change them into positive beliefs with affirmations.

For example, if you think you’re unlovable and will spend your life alone, you’d repeat the following affirmations:

  • “I am worthy of love”
  • “I am ready to give and receive love”.
  • “I am open to love and it will find me.”

There’s no magic behind these affirmations.

By repeating them to yourself over and over you’re essentially rewriting the “code” of your mind. And while your belief that you were unlovable might have kept you from going out and meeting people, your new belief encourages you to put yourself out there.

And the result?

You actually meet someone!

The great thing about affirmations is that you can say them in your head or out loud, or you can even write them down in a journal! The important thing is to be consistent and patient.

9) Healing and coping with difficult experiences

Did you know that journaling can be therapeutic?

In fact, a lot of therapists recommend it to their patients.

You see, writing down your thoughts and feelings is a great way to gain some insight into the goings on of your mind. And whether you talk about what you wrote with your therapist or keep it to yourself, it’s a practice that can help you deal with the various situations life throws at you, and even heal from painful experiences.

And the best part?

Journaling gives you a safe space to process painful emotions such as trauma and grief.

Plus, you don’t necessarily need a therapist to tell you to keep a journal. You can start one yourself.

Trust me, writing about your experiences will help you work through your emotional release and find some closure.

10) It’s a great way to become a writer

Finally, if you’ve been toying with the idea of becoming a writer, whether professionally or as a hobby, you may not be sure where to start. 

Why not start by keeping a journal?

  • It’s a great place to practice. The more you write, the better your writing skills will get.
  • Journaling has been known to spark creativity.
  • It’s a safe space to explore self-expression.
  • And it’s a good way to make writing part of your daily routine.

Tips for beginners

Okay, so now that we’ve established that journaling can be pretty great for you in more ways than one, you might be wondering where to begin.

Keep reading because I have some great journaling tips to get you started.

Choose the right journal

Seriously, choosing the right journal can make all the difference.

You’re gonna want to take into account things like size, paper quality, and binding.

And some people prefer blank pages while others prefer lined journals.

But you don’t actually need to write on paper! It’s 2023 and I’m sure that a lot of people would be most comfortable keeping a journal on their computers or tablets.

So whether it’s a journal with a pink fluffy cover or a file on your computer, it’s important to find a “vessel” that will encourage you to write.

Set aside a dedicated time

I recommend making this a regular activity.

So, you’re gonna want to schedule a regular time for journaling in your day or week.

It could be in the morning to reflect on the previous day or in the evening to help you unwind and process your thoughts.

Whatever you decide, remember that it’s important to be consistent, so find a routine that works for you.

Start with a purpose

It’s a good idea to start each journaling session with a clear intention.

It could be to write about your day, explore some ideas, practice gratitude, or write down some positive affirmations.

Having something to focus on will guide your writing and make it more meaningful.

Start with prompts or freewriting

Not sure what to write about?

That‘s okay, you can begin with journal prompts or freewriting.

Prompts can provide a specific topic or question to explore and freewriting is all about writing continuously without worrying about grammar or structure.

Write without judgment

Don’t be so hard on yourself!

This isn’t a thesis or a novel, it’s something you do for yourself.

So, try and relax and allow yourself to write freely without judgment or self-censorship.

Remember, your journal is a safe space to express your thoughts, emotions, and experiences honestly.

Experiment with different styles

The truth is that there’s no one-size-fits-all approach to journaling.

With that in mind, I encourage you to experiment with different styles and techniques.

You may even want to include drawings or collages in your journal, just find out what resonates with you.

Focus on the process, not perfection

At its core journaling is about self-reflection and self-expression, so try not to get caught up trying to achieve perfection.

Accept that it will be imperfect and that there will be typos and poorly constructed sentences.

That’s okay, you’re not trying to produce a flawless piece of literature.

Enjoy the process

Look, journaling is a journey and it may take some time for you to find your rhythm and make it a consistent practice.

So, be patient with yourself and remember to enjoy the process because journaling can be quite fun.

What are you waiting for?

Get started!

Jelena Dincic

Jelena has a background in photography and film-making and has spent the last few years as a content editor and copywriter. Jelena is a citizen of the world who is passionate about travel and learning about new cultures. She’s a foodie who loves to cook. And, as an art lover, she is always experimenting with new art mediums. When she’s not at her computer, she’s usually out and about in some forest with her dogs.

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