Today is a great day to write. It is cold and there is still a lot of snow on the ground. I have gone back to keeping a journal after taking a bit of a break. I usually stop right when I need it the most. It is amazing how much I discover about myself when I maintain a regular practice of journaling. It is hard not to notice what is going on when it is right in front of me in black and white.
Here are some of the benefits I’ve experienced from keeping a journal:
- Keeping a journal provides a safe place to deposit some of the blather that goes on in my brain, without censorship.
- It helps me to let go of some of my worries so I don’t carry them around during the day.
- As the anxiety accumulates again throughout the day, it is nice to know I have a healthy, enjoyable outlet for expressing my stressful thoughts.
- Writing in a journal helps keep me from saying hurtful things I may later regret when I am feeling angry or upset.
- It helps me to discern when it is important to have a difficult conversation with someone and to figure out the best approach.
- Keeping a journal helped me get through tough times:
- As a young girl, I wrote in a diary as a way to cope with the impact my mom’s mental illness had on my life. Sometimes I shared some of my journal entries with a close friend, when it was too hard to verbally express what was going on and I needed support.
- Journaling was a big part of my recovery process from an eating disorder and helped to alleviate my anxiety. About Health has some great ideas for journal topics as a recovery tool for eating disorders.
- Keeping a Grief Journal for the first year after my brother died helped me to work through the pain I was experiencing. There are a lot of things I wouldn’t remember about that time if I hadn’t written about it. Every now and then I like to go back and read what I wrote, and I can see clearly my progression through the stages of grief to acceptance, and back to the realization that this journey is never complete. *If you want to start a Grief Journal, I recommend visiting Hellogrief.org. They have some great suggestions for keeping a grief journal for the non-writer.
Here are a couple of tips about keeping a journal:
- I used to buy pretty journals that I would keep in a safe hiding place. Now I enjoy typing instead, using various methods to maintain my privacy so that nobody ever has to be subjected to my darkest rants.
- A few years ago I discovered morning pages, as suggested by Julia Cameron, author of The Artist’s Way. I love that book! It has some great ideas for tapping into one’s creativity and daily journaling is part of the process. I don’t always adhere to the morning part of it, which she strongly advocates, but I do make an effort to at least get something down on paper on a regular basis.