Five Powerful Reasons to Take Up Journaling
Practicing mindfulness by writing down thoughts and feelings has become increasingly popular over the past decade, and many of our customers use their WTF Notebooks for journaling.
To understand the power of journaling we’ve asked experienced advocates of this daily exercise to share their personal thoughts on what makes journaling so compelling, and how it benefits their lives on a daily basis. We’ve also heard from mental health experts who gave us professional insights into how the act of writing down your feelings can benefit your mind, body and soul.
What really is journaling?
Before we dive into the benefits of journaling, let’s first take a look at how journaling even works:
In a nutshell, journaling is the habit of keeping a diary or log about your experiences, ideas, insights and anything else that life evokes in your mind.
Unlike the traditional diary, journals aren’t used to simply document your day. Instead, journaling is about reflecting upon how you feel about life in general, the things that make you happy, those that drive you off your head, as well as the people, experiences and matters you’re grateful for.
If writing isn’t your thing, you’ll be pleased to hear that you’re not limited to the written word. Those empty pages are yours to fill, so you can write, scribble, draw or doodle.
Ultimately, journaling is all about active reflection. But when it comes to how it’s done, there is no right or wrong way, because whatever your style is, you’ll be guaranteed to gain from these five powerful benefits:
#1 Journaling helps to reduce stress
The number one benefit people are seeing as a result of journaling is stress reduction. At its core, stress is simply an emotional response to very demanding circumstances. It is often linked to an inner fear of not being able to handle certain problems we’re faced with. Recording your experiences and feelings in a journal can help you sort out and face those problems and fears with confidence.
In addition, the calming effects of spilling your emotions on paper can help you compartmentalise your thoughts, giving you clarity to think and freeing your mind from the stress you’ve built up during the day.
“There is no feeling more calming than the tip of the pen on paper”, reveals Soline Le Page, Travel Writer at ontheroadiary.com, from her own experience.
“After a long day of work, writing down my thoughts helps me clear my mind and process everything better. It also helps me start the next day in better conditions. Evening or morning journaling sessions are really therapeutic!”
#2 It fosters mindfulness for a happier, more confident You
While there are many ways to practice journaling there is one benefit all of these forms of journaling have in common: The pure act of reflecting fosters mindfulness, which we all know, is a great source of personal happiness.
“I’ve practiced daily journaling for the last five years and have certainly benefited from it”, says Matiah Fischer, founder of RetireBetterNow.com, “It’s helped me accomplish more, stay focused, deal with stress better, and keep my life organised.”
He says that writing down your plans, goals and dreams stimulates focus and greater awareness of yourself: “Keeping track of your ‘wins’ each day and what you’re grateful for helps you be happier and more confident.”
And with this confidence comes the realisation that you’re in control of your life: "Daily journaling opens your eyes to the fact that YOU are the author of your own life”, adds Mae Alexis, mental toughness expert at Nanala Cove, “You just have to pick up the pen and write it!"
“Regular journaling is a way for me to clear my mind and process the events of the day. It’s also incredibly important to me to record all of the sweet (and challenging) experiences that I have with my children. They change so quickly, I want to be able to look back and remember the details of our life during this special stage.”
– Martha Villaroman, Founder of family travel blog Go Places With Kids
#3 Journaling can help with depression
According to the World Health Organisation, more than 264 million people of all ages suffer from depression worldwide. Recognised as a mental disorder and serious health condition, depression can be triggered by a complex interaction of social, psychological and biological factors, and is very tightly connected to the first two points on this list:
Because of the effects journaling has on stress handling and self-awareness, the act of self-expression and reflection can positively affect people who suffer from depression.
With a background in psychology and a very personal experience to tell, David Enevoldsen knows this too well: “Several years ago, journaling played a massive role in helping me escape suicidal depression. After that it helped me focus my thoughts enough to get a house, find a spouse, make more money, and start solving a lot of problems in my life”
The founder and owner of Emotional Embuffination is thoroughly convinced that journaling is critically important to success in life.
Another reason why journaling is good for your mental health is that a journal is always available when you need it. “All of us need to vent out the bottled-up frustrations owing to the ups and downs in life”, notes Amelia Alvin, practicing psychiatrist at the Mango Clinic. “Journaling will stay by your side (read side table) when no one else will.”
#4 It gets you away from electronics
In the age of 24/7 connectivity, where everybody carries a supercomputer around in their pocket, many people seek a break from their devices every now and then. If a ‘digital detox’ is what you’re craving but struggle to stay entertained offline, putting pen to paper may be the activity to take up.
“Journaling the old school way keeps me off electronics which consumes the rest of my day”, explains Ja-ne de Abreu. The author of ‘Sassy Food’ describes it as a great way to work out creative solutions to problems, and explore emotions that would otherwise be bottled up. “I can draw and use different colour pens – it's much better than staying tethered to the computer.”
With the increase in connectivity through social media since the outbreak of COVID-19 and during pandemic lockdowns, journaling is a practical form to get away from your screens and take some time to shift your focus towards the ‘offline’ world you live in.
"When we take the time each day to organise and clarify our thoughts, we are more aware and more present in each of the moments of our lives. We realise the choices we made last week impact our results this week. We make connections and can consciously choose to improve our lives. This clarity is why I feel everyone should journal."
– Terri Kozlowski, Certified Life Coach, blogger, the author of 'Raven Transcending Fear', and founder of Soul Solutions
#5 Keeping a journal is recommended by experts
Journaling is backed by science, with an increasing number of professional therapists recommending it to their patients.
“It has been said that the pen is mightier than the sword. In my practice, the pen is mightier than the situation”, says Dr Stephvanie Wynn, a relationship coach and counsellor. “I encourage journaling combined with other strategies to help increase the self-esteem of women and teens, and to help men become love letter writers.”
The written expression of your feelings about old memories can also provide a way to take back control of your life after a traumatic experience.
Registered nurse and Certified Trauma Recovery coach Jami Carder started journaling five years ago as a way to help process a decades-old trauma. It worked so well for her that she now uses it as the main part of her trauma recovery coaching program.
And even neuroscience experts agree that there is immense power in seeing things written down in your own handwriting. Actively reading and reflecting on how you feel about a challenging situation in your life, will give yourself a new perspective, and open up your mind to finding the triggers that caused the experience to be difficult.
Holistic mental health practitioner Natalie Hardie specialises in the neurological basis of behaviour. The founder and CEO of London-based NH Neuro Training, who also uses a traditional diary herself, says that writing down your thoughts and feelings “can help you track symptoms and recognise your triggers”.
How to get started with journaling
If you’re not journaling yet, these five benefits have hopefully convinced you to give it a try yourself.
Starting a journal sounds easy: You get home from work, pull out your favourite notebook and jot down a few sentences about how you feel. But the idea of writing every day may deter some people, and the expectation to do it regularly can appear daunting.
Especially on days packed with jobs to complete, it might feel like all you’re doing is adding another task to your to-do list. But just like with any other habit, journaling becomes easier with every time you put that pen to paper.
In fact, journaling can quickly become an activity you look forward to every day.
“At first it was a real chore. But now even one missed day makes me feel a sense of lack”, explains Justin Brown, CEO of social network Ideapod. After more than a decade of journaling, he confidently suggests: “There's nothing I love more than grabbing my blue ballpoint pen, opening my journal and spilling my soul.”
When asked for the best way to get started in journaling, Shakir Malik from The Life Hype suggests you try writing down three things you're grateful for each day. This keeps the ‘task’ easy to manage, yet you’ll quickly see how even just a moment of reflection every day will give you all the powerful benefits that come with journaling.
So what are you waiting for? Grab your favourite notepad and pen and get journaling.
And if you don’t have the right journal on hand, be sure to browse our range of funny and relatable notebook titles. WTF Notebooks are quality journals that come as soft and hard covers, as well as your favourite cover colour. Plus, you can customise the inside pages to suit the type of journaling you prefer.Browse all