By Isabella Teng
I’ve been journaling everyday for a couple years now. I’ll admit keeping one and sticking to writing consistently was difficult at first. But after continuing with journaling as I have, I can easily list the benefits over disadvantages. Whatever’s transpired throughout the day, whatever feelings have come and gone, I constantly find solace in the comfort my Moleskin journal provides. So in detail, here are my reasons for keeping a journal:
- Some Good-Old Alone Time
It’s healthy to disconnect from technology, along with people and other obligations, from time to time. I’m finding all the more that with technology increasingly becoming a crutch in daily life, I am unable to sit for long periods of time without getting the urge to check my phone or surf the web. A study found that people use their phones an average of 46 times a day, and the number’s only going up. Journaling gives people the opportunity to turn against the lull of technology for a bit, and divest consideration into engaged, focused expression as opposed to passive smartphone scrolling.
- It’s Easy
Where everything nowadays is red tape and rules, and social conventions tell you “don’t do this” and “oh, but you can’t do that either”, I find that my journal is a haven free of inhibitions. I write what I want and sometimes I even dismiss grammar (gasp, blasphemy). It’s cathartic, really. And there’s no pressure, no constraints; I just freely let my rambling thoughts flow from my head and out my pen. I’ve tried starting a blog before, although that was too much of a commitment for me. I felt pressured to produce at set intervals, but that hastened my writing and I felt I couldn’t produce my best. With journaling, I don’t have such qualms. And a journal doesn’t demand anything; it patiently waits for its owner and is glad to be of service.
- New Ideas
The freedom of journaling invites creativity as well. Writing about one topic can bud off into another terrain of ideas, perhaps unexplored. Ideas can crop up at any given time, and writing them down ensures that they won’t be forgotten as quickly as they’ve appeared.
- Stress Relief, Anyone?
A journal can be the best confidante you so desire. Pour your heart out and you can practically feel the tension and stress that had built up throughout the day roll off. In addition to reducing intrusive negative thoughts, expressive writing has been also shown to improve working memory.
- Hooray for Accountability
If you’re able to see a goal in writing, you’re all the more likely to see it through. Want to run five miles every week? Write about it. Aiming for that grade in chemistry? Document your hard work day by day, and revel in the sweet taste of success afterwards. Little goal or big goals, by writing them down, they’ll will be at the forefront of your mind as you go about daily life. Also, if you find that you have recurring negative thoughts, it’s much easier to see these patterns on paper. Cultivating awareness of negativity helps to change certain aspects of ourselves, or cutting out those negative relationships from your life, or whatever is it that hampers any sort of happiness.
- Honed Writing Skills
More writing translates to better writing. You don’t have to be the world’s most eminent journalist to get into journaling; throw yourself into writing and the skills will come along the way.
- Increased Self-Awareness
Exploring your thoughts through journaling means identifying the feelings attached to them. I know that I’ve been able to understand my own flaws and strengths better by jumping on the first thoughts that spring unbidden from my mind. Then, with a clear state of mind induced by the act of writing, I can state the factors I love about myself, and the ones I want to work on to change.
- Reflection and Appreciation
When I write in my journal, oftentimes I’ll remember little details throughout the day that I’ve realized I’ve forgotten until I see words blossom across the paper. I remember seeing a grandfather holding hands with his grandson on my morning run. Later that day I wrote about that scene. The next thing I knew I had written two pages about my grandpa, who is one of the most influential figures in my life. I thought about my close relationship with him, a relationship that I’m wholly grateful for a hundred times over. I thought about all the passions he’d introduced to me when I was younger, all the time he spent on my behalf, and I found that journaling helped me fully appreciate him. Write and appreciate; you’ll find life colorful, fulfilling, and entirely beautiful.
Journaling is perhaps one of the most powerful habits to acquire, and for reasons far beyond the ones I’ve outlined. So have fun, don’t take it too seriously, and let its benefits find their ways into your life.