One of the regular tips I share via social media goes like this….Did you know that journaling on a regular basis is a great way to empty the mind and slow down the worry monster?
I’d like to share why I choose to say that and why it helps my wellbeing
This is written from several different perspectives. The first is from the perspective of someone who’s quite naturally lazy and cynical which means that new concepts that require regular commitment are unlikely to take hold without considerable persuasion and effort. Therefore if I keep doing something it must be worthwhile.
It is also written from the perspective of someone who is never happier than when they are running a workshop, seeing people make connections and dispensing little insights that will, if followed through, make a difference to people’s quality of life. One of the insight I dispense is about journalling. What I mean about that is that I like to be clear with everyone that I work with that I use everything that I recommend people use.
At the beginning of this year I wrote an article about Resolutions (New Year – Old Me) where I talked about resolutions and described some habits I was seeking to build. One of which was journalling.
This is a brief review of what I have learnt.
Firstly I would like to deal with what I mean by journalling.
In aspirational terms it means allocating 10-20 minutes a day out of my busy life to write down thoughts, feelings and review my day. In reality it means that I do this 3 times a week.
Compared to what I used to do that is a big improvement.
My journal, and I can only talk from my perspective, is private, unfiltered, unstructured, and consists of me emptying my mind into my lap top using words, phrases, judgements and criticisms of me and others that I would never want to read back and would never want others to read.This for my eyes only and serves an important purpose. That purpose is to help me build and maintain my mental health.
A journal allows me to empty my mind of what is on my mind. This means that I can order things, reflect as I type and start to move on.
Have you ever tried to coach or drag someone out of their victim like state of moaning and whinging with your own positive viewpoint on life and found that they just don’t want to listen? That is often because they are so stuck in their circle of misery that they do not have the capacity to listen or even to comprehend your positivity.
Over the years I have learnt that if I spend the time listening to someone and encourage them to empty their mind of the toxic thoughts they are carrying around then they, often, develop their own capacity to move themselves on and look for solutions. While they are still full, however, of the rubbish they carry around, they can’t move one.
Journalling is a way of helping myself to empty and then move on.
Here a few of the benefits that I have found
- I can give myself relief from tension I carry around.
- I have proved to myself I have the capacity to deal with my challenges.
- I sleep better
- I spend less time internally judging others.
- I am able to be my own counsellor.
- It helps me confront and name feelings that I would not normally name. In the past I would just carry then with me until they subside or get worse.
- I deal with stress better
- I have healthier self esteem
Lessons I have learnt
- This works best when done as a practice. What I mean by this is that if I do it regularly, with no expectation that I will get a specific benefit from it, I get more benefit. Sounds ironic, and it is. There is no doubt it helps in crisis or when I am feeling low. However, if I practice it regularly, irrespective of how I feel, I get more benefit.
- Use it to look for lessons and resolution not just as a way to criticise and judge others. If it simply becomes a vehicle for blame then it is likely to assist in keeping me stuck in an unhappy place.
- Start journalling with low expectations. It is not a miracle, overnight cure all. What it is, though, is a sound way of taking responsibility for my emotional health.
Finally, I had a realisation about journalling a while back which is ….A journal listens to you like no one else can…unconditionally & non-judgmentally.