Journaling is probably something reminiscent of your teenage years, when life was very much like your favourite 90’s movie complete with your first crush, that awful nemesis, and just trying to survive, let alone fit in. Life as you knew it was a whirlwind of unexpected events and writing it all down in the journal you kept under your mattress made everything a little clearer and helped you navigate the journey through to (semi) adulthood.
Well adulthood or not, the concept is something you should consider on a daily basis. From increased mental clarity and focus, to keeping track of your goals, putting pen to paper and letting your ideas flow across the page has been proven to relieve stress and anxiety, as well as enable you to reach a whole new level of creativity and productivity. It’s the meditative medication that all the success stories have secretly been using. Without the adverse effects of writer’s block, the beauty lies in its absence of rules, free of restraints and judgements. All you need to do is start and write whatever is on your mind. So before you rush out to purchase your next best accessory, here are a few reasons why you should be journaling.
Writing down your thoughts on paper gives you something tangible to come back to and look at in a new perspective. Keeping record of your past worries, future anxieties and emotions enables you to notice patterns in your thoughts. Observing your thoughts as your write them increases your awareness and renders you fully present to the moment.
Ever had a brilliant idea and forgot to write it down? Well, we’re not saying that’s how Snapchat was born (although the founders probably did write something down), but brainstorming and physically seeing your ideas on paper creates a “stream of consciousness”, as you let your imagination and whatever is genius that is overflowing within you run free. You never know what when you might get that light bulb, “eureka!” moment.
Fitness and diet experts swear by it, and like it or not, it’s one of the most effective tools to keep you on track with your health and fitness goals. It’s what holds you accountable and motivates you to keep going by seing a history of how far you’ve come.
Writing about stressful events lets your come to terms with them and have better mental clarity and focus. It helps you gain a new perspective on whatever issues you may have, in addition to improving insight and understanding.
So in case we don’t have you convinced just yet, we asked a few of TrainSrilanka’s contributors and success stories to let us in on how they use this serious life- hack to their advantage
Why I journal: To process and digest my thoughts and feelings. Sometimes there are things you don’t necessarily want to talk to other people about so it’s a healthy way of expressing feelings that, if left unexpressed, become dangerous and can manifest as stress, energetic blocks and more painful things like disease.
When: Five minutes of free-flowing writing in a notepad at the end of my day. I just keep writing non stop for five minutes. If I feel a ‘mental block’ I keep writing even if the words are ‘I don’t know what to say, I don’t know what to say.’ I learnt this form of writing when I was on retreat recently and it really helps to express, communicate to self and clarify thoughts and feelings.
Why I love it: As way to process and clarify. I also use it as a creative outlet. If there’s a ‘hard’ or confrontational conversation I need to have with someone, I will often write and clarify my thoughts before actually having that conversation in real life.
Why I journal: I love journaling. I have always liked writing things down. I like going back and rereading my thoughts, feelings, and realizations. When I’m practicing yoga or doing other forms of training, my analytical mind takes a backseat and my creative mind comes more alive. I feel more inspired, and before those golden thoughts go fleeting away, I like to get them written down. Sometimes it might be a new yoga sequence or pose variation, sometimes it feels like the key to the meaning of life. After I had my baby, I had a really difficult time because poses that had been so easy for me for so long became challenging. Some felt downright out of reach. So one of things I journaled about was when I got a certain pose back. I would write the pose name and the date, and have a moment of gratitude and pride. And it helped me to look back at that list if I was having a tough day in my body. It would give me hope and strength to keep doing my work.
When: Whenever I can. Being a working mom, I don’t have the luxury of a full flexible schedule, so I grab time whenever I can. If it’s about my practice or training, I like to be able to make notes during or immediately after, when it’s all still fresh in my mind. I’m old school. I love pen and paper. I even have a paper diary to keep my schedule. As a default though, I’ll just use Notes in my iPhone.
Why I love it: Journaling is like writing letters to yourself. Self-communication. Which is quite possibly the most important type of communication that enables you to communicate within your relationships and the rest of the world. It’s where you can operate from a really connected place – body, mind, and soul. You can be completely unadulterated and honest with yourself on the page. It can be cathartic, self-motivating, and just a great way to be clear about your own dreams and goals and a place where you can keep checking in with yourself and your progress. Sometimes I get caught up in the business and busyness of life, and a month or even longer will go by without any journaling. By the time I realize that, it makes sense why I have felt out of sorts and disconnected, and inevitably when I get back into the rhythm of writing, I feel more grounded within myself.
Why I journal: My blog has become my journal – it’s something I started whilst studying nutrition as a way to consolidate everything I was learning. Before long, it became a way I helped heal my relationship with food. It was easy to observe patterns, keep a note of things that were working for me as I tried new ways to keep fit and eat in a healthy and balanced way. I didn’t intend to grow a brand out of it, but even as more people started following my health journey, I tried to keep it as honest as possible. I think if you’re journaling – be it online or in your own personal notebook – honesty is key.
When: I write whenever I get inspiration – usually after yoga! I come out with new ideas for how to turn a craving for a sweet treat into a delicious, wholesome meal. Or if I’m travelling, sometimes being in an unfamiliar environment will bring up old thoughts or feelings, and writing them down puts a lot of things in perspective.
Why I love it : It helps keep me creative, and to share my message about healthy living. I really love being able to share my own experiences and what I’m learning along the way.
Why I journal: Simply put, to track and prioritise tasks. By having a copy of everything you need to accomplish in your day/ week you can group and priorities to become more efficient. Marking items 1 thru 3: (1 time critical, 2 week essential and 3 General) gives you true representation of what needs to be done.
When: I’m old school and enjoy pen to paper. There is nothing like physically crossing something off your list (as opposed to lapping a task light on your phone). I journal over coffee each morning. My mind is clear and I’m able to plan my day more effectively.
Why I love it It is all about controlled progress- I find if I don’t put everything down, there is a looming feeling that i have missed something important, and that i have a millions things to get done. By having everything down, I know that there is, say 36 items, not “millions” and that feeling of “missing something” never enters my head. And when your week is over you can see what you have achieved and turn a new page and start all over again.
Words to live by: “Don’t do over the phone what you can do in person, over email what you can do via phone, message what you can via email.”