If you left journaling behind in your teens, here are five good reasons to pick up that pen
Everyone knows teenagers and journals go together like yoga and breathwork, however, as we reach adulthood, many of us leave this healing practice behind, long forgotten under our pre-pubescent pillows. According to Sam Topley, founder of Dear Writer (dearwriter.co.uk) though, journaling could be just the thing we need during these uncertain times. “Writing as an act of self-care can bring order when it feels like your world is in disarray,” says Sam. Here are Sam’s top five reasons to get journaling again.
Perfectionism is crippling; it can stop the growth of new ideas and creativity in their tracks. How often do you consciously expose yourself to imperfections? Journaling can aid in the recovery from perfectionism as in many ways it runs against what we are told to do in our work and professional lives, where we must have answers, check our tone, be strategic, be consistent, be accountable etc. None of that is important in our personal writing. By letting these restrictions go and writing freely, without editing, over time it is possible to begin to release the high expectations we might have of ourselves. It takes practice and support but through writing in a private space we can work on accepting what we write, how our handwriting looks and what we do as being enough – and even coming to love it.
Journaling is an umbrella term and there are many different ways of writing, just like there are many different types of yoga. Writing about daily events can be useful, but extending that further into writing metaphors about how we’re feeling and writing from different perspectives can help uncover the flowing river of creativity inside all of us, which is normally covered up by the daily restrictions and rules we put around our writing in adult life. An everyday creative activity can improve overall wellbeing* and be very fulfilling.
By asking ourselves short questions with the purpose of reflecting on the progress we have made it can become easier to track progress which might have been overlooked. Even recognising small accomplishments like making the bed in the morning can have a significant effect on outlook. Writing about personal growth can identify areas where we can make adjustments as well as creating intentions for the short-term future. This could be as simple as asking yourself the following questions each night: What did I enjoy about today? What have I accomplished today?
Words connect our inner workings with an external world. They enable us to connect with others as well as with ourselves. Working those vocabulary and writing muscles equips us with a better understanding of our internal narratives so we can better share our stories with others. Metaphorical writing exercises enable us to look at things from a different perspective which can help with building more positive relationships with ourselves and also with others. Journaling has been proven to improve the quality of our relationships.**
Journaling has been proven to reduce stress and anxiety (in studies undertaken by the University of Rochester and The University of Northern Colorado, respectively). Through gratitude journaling, it could be a short list of things that you’re grateful for each day, we provide a space for relaxation and a mindful activity that can relieve stress. It’s important to recognise in your journaling that if it is making you more stressed, then stop. Writing about the same thing every time might be counterproductive which is why prompts, guided journals and writing groups are so useful. They provide inspiration for looking at things differently and a gentle guide, so we don’t find that our journaling circles around the same things every time.
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