When you were a child, did you ever fill up a diary with your innermost thoughts, troubles, secrets, dreams and heartaches? Or perhaps you collected ticket stubs, postcards and other mementoes and stuck them into a scrapbook for safekeeping?
If so, you’ll know just how much fun it can be, and how beneficial it can be for your health and your happiness. In fact, it’s such a powerful tool that professional therapists use it to help guide their clients through traumatic experiences, stress, anxiety and even depression. Depending on the approach you choose you can also use it to set yourself goals and achieve them.
As we’re sure you’ll agree, this is exactly what we need this winter to stay positive during difficult times. “During [a] pandemic, I think maybe the most useful thing about journaling is that it helps create a narrative, a sense that life continues and that it is moving forward, even in a time of stuckness,” commented clinical psychologist Andrea Medaris on the Vox Magazine website.
Keep reading to find out more about the power of journaling and learn how to get started.
Anyone who has ever written down their daily thoughts will tell you that journaling can help you feel better on an emotional, psychological and even a physical level.
By giving you time to disconnect from the daily chaos and focusing on your internal ‘weather’, journaling, or keeping a diary helps you feel more grounded, in control of your life and more positive about the future, even if it seems entirely uncertain. It gives you a safe, judgement-free space where you can be yourself, organise your thoughts, set goals and release stress or even trauma.
In a study published in the Journal of Experimental Psychology, researchers noted that writing, “reduces intrusive and avoidant thoughts about negative events and improves working memory. These improvements, researchers believe, may, in turn, free up our cognitive resources for other mental activities, including our ability to cope more effectively with stress.” Another 2018 study found that just 3 sessions of 20 minutes per week can ease reported symptoms of depression.
All of these reasons make it an excellent, affordable way to improve your health and make the coming year the best one yet.
How to start journaling this winter
So how do you get started? It’s easy. Simply follow these steps:
Find a way of collecting your thoughts. Many people choose to buy a dedicated notebook and a pen, others like to use a blank document on their computer and others prefer to keep a video or voice diary. Find what works for you and then stick to it.
Choose your ‘style’. There’s no right or wrong way to keep a journal. Some people love the bullet journaling format as it’s quick and efficient. Others like to write letters, jot down a stream of consciousness, keep a gratitude journal, set and develop goals, play with words or simply see what happens.
Get cosy. Journaling during the winter months should be cosy, comfortable and even magical. Create that hygge feeling and find somewhere comfortable to sit, light some candles, grab a blanket and some comfortable cushions and get writing!
Stay flexible! Journaling isn’t just something else you need to add to your ‘to-do’ list- it should feel like a treat. So stay flexible. Try to make it a daily habit but don’t lose sleep if life gets in the way, or if you can only manage a sentence or two, or if you find yourself writing for hours. Simply go with the flow and enjoy the process.
If you’re suffering from the winter blues, you’re sick of the pandemic restrictions or you’re looking for a creative hobby to keep you busy through the winter, look no further than journaling. It’s affordable, it’s great fun and it can improve both your mental and physical health.
We’re a Healthy Living Pharmacy and we’re here to help you reach your wellness goals through 2021 and beyond.