Do you ever feel like you are... Simply out of breath? Metaphorically speaking of course. The world and life around us keep spinning, and sometimes all we can do is spin together with it. Just go with the flow and don’t think about it - we say to ourselves. But thoughts and experiences don't simply disappear from our consciousness, quite the contrary – they stay with us there, deep in the corner of our mind. Eventually, it may lead to stress, anxiety, or even insomnia. Hopefully not, but if so, how can you help yourself if you are feeling overwhelmed?
While there are many methods on how to deal with stress, we recommend you try journaling. It is nothing new for humankind; history books tell that even Leonardo da Vinci himself practised journaling. Journaling can be one of the most useful and cost-effective tools to shape a better, emotionally, and mentally healthier life.
Journaling, also called expressive-writing, has been repeatedly emphasized for its benefits for your mental and physical health. While journaling cannot replace the therapy, it may help you with:
- stress relief
- anxiety management
- even boost your immune system
So now, you may ask how journaling could possibly help me to become physically more healthy?
Dr Pennenbaker explains that journaling helps to organize your mind and make sense of trauma. And when we do that, our brains are freed from excessive processing of past experiences and thoughts, which leads to better sleep and improved memory, which improves our immunity system and moods. Researchers suggest that people who write journals visit doctors less.
By now, the proven benefits of journaling hopefully have inspired you enough to at least try it out. And if not yet, would it convince you to know that some of the world’s most influential and successful women, such as Oprah and Michelle Obama, are practising journaling?
We hope the only thing on your mind now is, “yes, let’s do this!” So, how to get started and what to do? Don’t worry; we have collected some easy-to-follow guidelines for you:
1.Write during the hours that are natural for you.
Some of us are morning people, and some are evening. Even though it may sound somewhat romantic to wake up with the first rays of sunshine and put your mind on the paper, for some, it simply may not work. And that’s ok. Do you.
2. Make it a habit.
Habits may be daunting to form, so start it easy and make your journal always accessible. Keep it close and open it whenever it feels like something should be written on paper. But don’t punish yourself if you don’t feel like writing or have fallen behind from the desired routine. It is free will, and it should make you happier instead of feeling guilty.
3. It is for your eyes only. No judgment. Ever.
If there is a place where to put it all out, then it is your journal. Be raw and authentic to yourself.
4. Work through something that has been bothering you.
Ask yourself, what holds you back at the moment? What causes stress or anxiety? Perhaps there is a secret you have been carrying with you? Also, a journal is where you may write letters never to be sent. And let’s be honest, we all have someone from our past or in our present to whom we wish to tell something we have been holding back for a reason or two. So put that too in your journal and set yourself free.
5. Make it pretty.
Some of us care deeply about our surroundings. Some of us notice small details and cherish them. Some of us don’t care about either of these. Make your journal to be a part of you and visualise it in a way that serves you.
6. Schedule, but only if you feel so.
For some people, scheduling helps. For some, nothing disrupts a day more than a schedule that has not been fulfilled. Thus, once again – do you. Whatever fits you the best is the best for you!
7. The content doesn’t need to be book worthy
Don’t blame yourself for not being able to write logically about the things going on in your mind. You need to put the mess on the paper, write it on the blank pages of the notebook and let it be there and free your mind, lets call it tidying up! Write anything you want and don’t worry about sentence structure or punctuation. Anything you write will make your mind feel lighter. No clutter, no mess – it all stays on the page!
As you see, journaling can and should be easy. It should serve your mind, and there is no single recipe that is good for everyone. However, we hope our tips and tricks will become useful, but keep in mind, if something doesn’t work for you, it’s ok. Do what makes you feel good!