Keeping a journal is a great way to unwind and reflect on life, with research showing that journaling can be great for stress reduction, as well as improved problem-solving and self-esteem. It’s also one of the more flexible hobbies you can take up, as it can be done anywhere and anytime with simply a writing tool and journal. Plus, even a few minutes’ worth of reading or journaling has benefits, requiring very little in terms of time consumption.
The Mental Benefits of Journaling
Journaling typically means documenting current and past events from a first-person perspective, though there’s certainly allowed creativity. When journaling, write how you feel comfortable, whether it’s in traditional “Today, I did so and so,” form or perhaps something more ambitious. A key aspect of journaling is to provide an outlet for expression, which is best pursued in a natural and comfortable state.
Journaling helps prioritize your concerns, fears and issues as well, as the outlet generally results in the more pressing issues being addressed first. Also, by tracking daily behaviors or symptoms you may have, you can better recognize triggers and potential methods to control them. All this provides an opportunity to identify behaviors that may be harmful to yourself or others.
In addition to relaxation, meditation, a healthy diet and ample sleep, journaling is a great way to encourage healthy lifestyle habits and improve day-to-day behavior.
How to Properly Journal
Journaling is simple in approach, in that you can write about anything you please and take any approach you’d like. Still, some universal tips for journaling include:
- Make it a habit, whether it’s writing every day or every few days. Having journaling become a habit will also make reflection a habit, which is great for anyone’s mental health.
- Keep a pen and paper around whenever possible, so if an idea strikes or you simply have to get something out, you’ll be able to.
- Establish your own privacy. Whether you want your journal to be completely private or even publicly hosted on the internet is completely up to you.
- Feel free to integrate photos or relevant material into the journal, like a scrapbook, to make future reading even more immersive.
- Use other ideas for inspiration as a place to start, such as starting a dialogue with your inner child, keeping a nature diary, logging a playlist of your favorite songs or even writing through stream-of-consciousness.
Reading has many of the same tips and benefits as journaling, with reading benefits including improved relaxation, sleeping patterns, empathy and intelligence. Like journaling, reading allows you to reflect on your lifestyle and choices, though with additional input from other authors. Also, like journaling, even a few minutes a day can be beneficial.
Writing and reading provide a therapeutic outlet for all types of individuals, from high-energy office workers to free-spirited artists. Everyone’s daily accounts are worthwhile. Whether you’re using an old scrapbook or a blogging platform for your journal, your own insights can provide self-improvement in both the present and future.