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What is the first thing that comes to mind when you hear the word journaling?

Many people, including you, would say it reminds them of keeping diaries, pasting photos on papers, or a school activity they had to do as students. All of this is true, and while journaling appears to be a simple activity of keeping personal records, it is considered a powerful tool in completely changing our lives.

What is journaling and how did it rise to popularity?

Dr. Ira Progoff, a well-known psychologist, presented journaling as a therapeutic approach for personal growth and emotional wellness in the 1970s. 

Since then, journaling has been associated with healing and self-improvement. I personally believe that it is a great way to empty your mind, release emotions, and organize your thoughts. Through this practice, we are given the space we need to focus on our lives creatively and powerfully, helping us tackle the challenges we face in our lives.

How can it help you as an individual?

Practicing the habit of writing down your thoughts has been scientifically proven to help you self-reflect, change your mindset, organize your ideas, and manage your stress, eventually improving your daily life in the long run.

In fact, a study published by the JMIR Mental Health revealed that emotion-focused journaling has reduced aspects of mental distress and improved well-being. This is something that resonated with me.

As a teenager, I struggled with my identity as a South Asian Muslim immigrant. I am grateful to my grandfather for introducing me to the practice of keeping a diary during those times.

I’ve moved on from keeping a diary to gratitude journaling. I think it’s a lovely way to connect with our inner selves. By accessing our intuition and creating clarity, writing down our thoughts frees up our brain function to fuel newer ideas. It is one of the most effective methods for improving mood and managing anxiety symptoms. 

How do you start journaling and what format do you use?

While journaling is considered simple, it can be intimidating to begin. So here are a few ideas to get you started:

  1. Use a method that works for you and fits into your daily routine. You can journal in a special notebook, a desk calendar, your phone’s notes app, or even the same notepad you use to make your grocery list. Whatever you choose, it should always be easily accessible and visible in order to serve as a reminder.
  2. Connect journaling to another habit you already have. While sipping your morning coffee, you can write your daily journal on the dining table. Keep your notebook in the kitchen so you don’t lose it. Doing this on a daily basis can help you develop the habit of journaling. Doing this on a daily basis can help you develop the habit of journaling. 
  3. Don’t be afraid to write or speak about what you need to. Remember that your journal is your personal space, and you are free to express yourself on these pages. So don’t try to self-edit by downgrading what you want to say.

We tend to overthink everything in our hectic lives, and there never seems to be enough time to sit down, pause, and have a conversation with ourselves. This could be an excellent time to start journaling. Take a deep breath and begin journaling about your day. After some time, you can expand on it by adding your own feelings, thoughts, emotions, expectations, beliefs, and questions to consider.

Journaling, like everything else, is a practice that should not feel like a chore. Making it a habit requires determination and consistency. So, no matter what form or method you use, it is critical to show up and do your journaling every day, no matter how little you write. Positioning journaling positively in your life could be the game-changer you’ve been looking for. So, how about you begin right now? What do you feel grateful for today?