The simple act of putting pen to paper can help you make sense of your emotions, reflect on your actions, and improve your mental wellbeing. By SAMANTHA FRANCIS
You might’ve kept a diary well into your teens, penned down the happy moments in your life, and confessed to secrets you would otherwise have never told anyone. Or perhaps, jotted down a mantra to remind yourself of your goals on a Post-it note or two. This very desire to make sense of our feelings and emotions through writing is what makes journaling so powerful.
Beyond putting words on paper, effective journaling is said to help one improve their lives in a positive manner—including making important connections between thoughts, feelings, and behaviours, as well as decluttering the mind. For those who suffer from mental illnesses, journaling also offers a helpful channel to boost one’s mood, reduce symptoms of depression and anxiety, as well as improve one’s working memory.
If you’re just getting started on journaling, here’s what to know:
Let the thoughts flow
Journaling is a practice in mindfulness and the act of letting your thoughts flow freely on paper can help you focus better on the task at hand. If writer’s block gets to you, just start by writing a single line or detailing your day from start till end. Instead of being preoccupied with grammatical errors and punctuation, write without censorship for yourself. You can always edit later on.
Write in private and without distractions
Make time and space for journaling, whether you’re doing it daily or weekly. Clear your desk of distractions like your laptop or smartphone, then set the mood with your favourite scent or music. To ensure privacy, be sure to have a proper place to keep your physical journal. If you’re writing on a digital platform, add a passcode to keep the entries for your eyes only.
Journal with intention
As you become familiar with the habit of journaling, take the experience up a notch by creating a ritual you can follow. Before you start writing, start with a few minutes of quiet meditation to focus on your intention for the day and visualise the positive effects of journaling on your body and mind.
Use journaling prompts
Whether you’re seasoned or new to journaling, prompts are useful for days when you run out of ideas or are feeling unsure of what to write. They can come in the form of self-discovery, such as “What does my ideal day look like?”; managing emotions, such as “What is causing these feelings?”; and neutralising anxiety, such as “What happened before I felt a shift in my mood?”
Reflecting on your entries
The best part about journaling is having a useful platform to better understand yourself. After writing, take some time to contemplate your past thoughts and emotions, then make effort to align future actions with your reflected values and experiences. Reviewing your journal regularly will also shed light on how you’ve grown and changed as a person.