Journaling: A Life-Changing Habit
By Khalidha Naushad
“Whether you’re keeping a journal or writing as a meditation, it’s the same thing. What’s important is you’re having a relationship with your mind.”
– Natalie Goldberg
‘Success’ to many of you is material; a big house, plenty of money, a higher position in the job, and so on. But for me, the true measure of success is peace of mind, in fact, the ultimate goal of life is to be genuinely happy. Taking good care of yourself just doesn’t mean having physical health checkups and tests or working out to have a healthier body but also to achieve peace of mind by focusing more on your mental wellbeing. Some people tend to give up when it gets complicated but the easiest and most simple thing to do is to talk about your feelings to someone you trust.
Talking can help you stay in good mental health and deal with times when you feel troubled. I agree that it feels awkward to talk to people about your problems and it’s not always easy to describe how you are feeling. In fact, we don’t know how the other person would understand us or how it might affect our relationships. Don’t worry! Journals got you covered at times like this.
Remember those times when you used to write your secrets in a diary and kept it hidden under your pillow? Things changed with time as technology developed, and now unfortunately, diaries are digitalised too. But honestly, nothing can beat the feeling of holding a pen and writing down your problems, knowing there is no judgment or punishment in this place for confessing your struggles. The world seems clearer and feels so good to get all your thoughts out of your head and scribbling them down on paper.
Although you may have stopped using a diary or that people use digitalised ones, the concept and benefits of writing down your thoughts still apply but now it’s called journaling. Putting it into simple words, journaling is a written account of your thoughts, feelings, observations and reflections of life. Maintaining a journal is in fact, encouraged by experts and books, for selfimprovement, personal development or to track down your progress. A journal acts as a friend to you, you can talk to it, cry to it and also share the best moments of the day. Writing a journal helps you discover that you are your own best friend and what more could you ask for? But the power comes from doing it on a daily basis.
Tips to start journaling
1. Opt for a paper journal
I know that most of you love typing since the speed and ease of the keyboard sometimes works better, but try it on paper first and observe how your feelings process better when writing with pen and paper. According to Finding My Psych , keeping a journal using the analogue approach, arguably has the most therapeutic value as it requires you to formulate your thoughts with no ability to backspace. A paper journal will also make it easier to get creative with your entries if you’re interested in incorporating art into your journal.
2. Get creative and try expressive writing
What I love about maintaining a journal is that it doesn’t just stick to writing sentences and paragraphs about how my thoughts and feelings have been fluctuating throughout the day, perhaps I could draw them up and use different formats such as, making poetry, writing a letter to myself, bullet journaling and so on. The best part is the inspiring journaling prompts you can find online.
According to penzu, a journal prompt is a simple statement designed to inspire you or offer you an idea of what to write about and helps beginner writers get into journal writing. Remember that your journal doesn’t need to follow any certain structure. It’s your own private place to discuss and create whatever you want to express your feelings. Let the words and ideas flow freely. You can write a letter to your future self and about what you plan to accomplish by the time you get there. You can even write unsent letters to someone, maybe a letter of appreciation, or a letter of anger that helps you release some pentup feelings. Whatever you need to get off your chest.
3. Write in your journal every day
Just like how we used to maintain a diary, you must write in your journal every day to get the most benefits. Making a regular habit out of it improves your mental health. In order to practice writing everyday screening.mhanational.org, advises you to pick a time when it’s convenient for you to write, then challenge yourself to write every day. Schedule your journaling time into your day like any other important appointment.
For instance, you might write in your journal every morning when you wake up, during your lunch hour, or just before bed. Creating a routine with your journal will set you up for success and will serve as regular checkpoints for you each and every day. Keeping your journal close by will make you stick to the practice. Journaling doesn’t have to be the first thing to do in the morning nor should it be the last thing you do at night. You may write on it if you’re feeling down in the day, or put it next to your bed so you don’t forget to chat to your ‘friend.’ When you leave the house, you can either bring it with you or keep it safely locked up in your cupboard.
4. Start small and keep it realistic
Start with something super simple as you just want to build that habit. The notebook you choose doesn’t have to be expensive but simple and attractive. So, whenever you sit down with your journal, your brain will start to connect that particular special notebook with the habit of journaling, so whenever you see it, your brain will think, “time to journal!” Whenever you are building a new habit, it’s crucial to keep your expectations realistic.
Remember that you don’t need to record everything in your journal. Most of us tend to write a minute-byminute narration of all our daily actions and feelings but journaling doesn’t work that way. If you don’t feel like writing about an incident, then don’t! Writing them down in your journal and re-living them later on, only makes it feel like a chore and you eventually start hating it.
5. Honesty is key
Be honest as it is one of the few genuinely private spaces you have. “What a comfort is this journal, I tell myself to myself and throw the burden on my book and feel relieved” – Anne Lister