Why journaling can be helpful
I’ve always been introverted, but that doesn’t mean I don’t need someone to talk to. In fact, I feel like I need someone to talk to pretty much every day.
But sometimes there’s just no one there to talk to. Sometimes there’s something you want to talk about, but it’s not something you want to share with anyone around you. I’ve learned that there is a very important person who I can talk to in these situations— myself. How do I do this? Not just by thinking to myself, but by writing my thoughts down on a piece of paper, aka: journaling.
I used to journal every single night for years when I was younger. I stopped for a while, but then I started journaling a few months ago. I started to realize how useful it was—I could rant in my journal or I could "tell" my journal about the exciting stuff happening in my life.
But I think that just the act of writing my thoughts on paper has been one of the most helpful aspects of it. Putting your thoughts into words is so essential to understanding them sometimes because in your head they get jumbled up and mixed around and you don’t even realize how much you need to organize them.
Journaling helps you to do just that. It’s like talking to a friend. It’s like having your own portable therapist, because you can look at your thoughts from an outsider’s perspective. Sometimes when I write something down in my journal I realize how silly it is, or I realize that I’ve been feeling something for a long time, and just didn’t have the word to express it.
When journaling can be helpful
I worry about a lot of dumb stuff, but in my head it feels real. Writing down whatever I'm anxious about gives it less power. It helps me to understand that what I'm thinking is just thoughts, and I don't have to let them hold any weight unless I decide that they do.
Every day, I try to write down one thought and then pick it apart, challenging it, because I know it isn't fully true. You can do this with any thought--not just anxious ones. I find that many of the thoughts that make me uncomfortable are the very thoughts that are limited and untruthful. Writing it down can help you find out what's "wrong" with your thought, and then you can fix it.
If, like me, you love writing, journaling can be a great outlet for you. Journaling doesn't necessarily mean "writing down your feelings." You can write about whatever you want. Journaling is a perfect way to get your creative juices flowing.
Writing about it is the perfect way to get it out of your system. Even though it feels great to be excited, when you need to be calm for some reason (especially if you're trying to go to sleep), you can put it on paper and save it for later.
Sometimes, no matter how wonderful people are, they're just annoying, whether it's because you're tired or stressed. Writing about it can a) help you get your frustration out, and b) help you to see and acknowledge that you're feeling irritable, which can take away from how annoying everything seems to be.
When what you're feeling is negative, there are a lot of coping mechanisms that you can use that aren't as healthy as just dealing with it. These ways of coping are mere distractions, not solutions to the problem.
If you're annoyed with someone and you start yelling at someone, you'll probably regret it. If you got a bad grade and are sad about it and decide to eat half of an ice cream container, you'll probably regret it. If you regret eating the ice cream and then decide to eat some more ice cream to cope, you'll probably regret it again.
It's not fun to feel bad, but working through it can be more helpful sometimes, because we often turn to unhealthy ways of coping in order to deal with our emotions.
Journaling is a great way to work through those emotions without doing something we'll regret.
When this happens, journaling is a great way to make sense of it all and organize yourself. You can write down everything that needs to get done and prioritize, you can come up with a strategic plan to organize your room/closet/bathroom/life, or you can do some other form of journaling that will help you get whatever you need to get organized organized.
When this happens, there's often an underlying problem, even if you can't identify it right away. When you write about it, you'll be able to get some clarity on why you feel this way and what you can do to get yourself out of the funk.
The best time to journal
A time when journaling can be super helpful is right before bed. If you’re anything like me, your thoughts can go absolutely wild when you’re trying to wind down. Journaling is the perfect way to get them out and put them away, so that you can relax and go to sleep.
I find that when I journal out my worries before bed, it can help me to just stop thinking about them and let go, so that I can fall asleep easier.
Plus, when I write down something like, "I'm really worried that the stove is still on even though I've already checked it twice," it helps me analyze whether or not I really need to be worrying about that right now.
Journaling is great for any time of day. Sometimes I like to do it in the morning with a cup of lemon water out in the sunshine. This is helpful because then I can think through what I want to accomplish for the day and what I'm excited for. Sometimes I need it in the middle of the day if I start to get anxious or need to think something through. And, as I said before, nighttime is sometimes the perfect time to do it to help you wind down at the end of the day.
A Roadblock that might be getting in your way
After reading about all the ways that it can help you, what's stopping you from going ahead and journaling? I have an idea why you might not yet be on the journaling train, but I'm here to refute it for you.
Most people aren't going to read your journal.
It used to really make me uncomfortable that people could actually go back and read what I wrote. However, even though it’s possible, I think it’s actually really unlikely. Anyway, think about if you saw a notebook lying around, would you go ahead and just read it?
Now think about the people who are most likely to see your journal. These are probably the people who will respect your privacy most and who you trust most.
Don’t leave your journal lying around wherever you want, because that’s going to increase the chance that someone’s going to think it’s something else and then look at it (and hopefully put it down when they realize it’s your journal).
Altogether, I think there aren’t going to be a lot of people snooping around, just dying to read your journal. I have two brothers and a sister (and two parents, I guess) and so far my journal has not been broken into.
How to start journaling
There really isn't any right or wrong way to journal. You can write on anything anywhere. Here's a few ideas to get you started.
What kind of journal should you get?
When it comes to journals, any old piece of paper will do. Preferably though, it's a notebook so that you can have all of your entries in one spot. If you're a typist and don't like writing things by hand, you can just make a document dedicated to journaling.
I hope you find journaling to be just as helpful for you as it has been for me. I think that it can help a lot of people in a lot of different circumstances.
Writing out your thoughts can help you to analyze them and take away their power. Journaling can help you wind down at the end of the day and get motivated by planning in the morning.
There are a lot of directions you go when journaling, so feel free to get creative!
Wanna start journaling but don't know where to start? Check out this post to give you some ideas!
Do you journal? Why or why not? Comment below and let me know!