Journaling has been a lifeline for me!
I started when I was around 24 yrs old, when I had just given my life to Jesus! I felt anchored for the first time in my life.
I started journaling for two reasons. Firstly the love of God that had just come into my life had given me confidence and a sense of significance, at least enough to feel my experiences, thoughts and feelings were worth documenting. Secondly, because I was the youngest of a large family, I didn't feel I had a voice growing up, therefore journaling was a way of being able to express myself. It also just felt natural to do so!
Finding my voice. Journaling is simply writing down your thoughts and feelings and experiences on paper, in order to document them and in order to understand them more clearly.
There are different ways to record our thoughts and experiences, I will be focusing on writing, but drawing a picture , or making a collage to sum up our day, or doing a short recording are equally valid and empowering. Also asking yourself some reflective questions like, what is impacting you? Or what’s making you smile? can be helpful.
The way I journal is a mixture of anything and everything I want to put in there! Sometimes it’s just a simple record of what I’ve done. Mostly it seems to be my feelings and thoughts, whether I am happy, sad, angry, confused! It all goes on the page. Sometimes it’s raw and heartfelt, sometimes desperate! I write quotes or meaningful thoughts from books or podcasts that resonate, sometimes a quick sketch or a postcard if I’ve been away somewhere. Prayers of thankfulness and gratitude, poems , relevant songs, basically anything that I feel is important!
There are many benefits to Journaling!
Journal writing is a voyage into the interior. - Christina Baldwin.
1. Clarity. Writing things down ‘Clarifies Thinking’. Research has showed that our short term memory storage is limited, most people can only hold up to 7 items in their head at a time. Therefore recording our thoughts on paper clears out that storage and as a result our minds become quieter and we begin to think more clearly.
2. Relieves stress and improves mental health. By writing down whats on your heart and mind, like the worries that go round and round in our heads, we make them more tangible and concrete and this helps us gain control over our emotions, which helps our mental health.
3. Sitting quietly and journaling allows us to hear from God in an intentional way. A few years ago when I was going through a challenging time, I wrote something down which I felt God had said and it proved to be incredibly important and gave me direction for that season in my life.
4. Improves decision making. Reflective writing has been shown to improve decision making especially in the medical profession. I personally did reflective writing when I was a nurse, especially when I had had a tough day. It is a great tool for reflecting what happened, evaluating your actions and drawing insights, helping you decide what you could do better next time, in a similar situation.
5. Unblocks Creativity. A couple of years ago I studied a book called The Artists Way with a group of friends. One of the tools that we were encouraged to do was write, “The Morning pages”. This is writing 3 pages of longhand writing, strictly from our stream of consciousness first thing in the morning. Writing whatever is swirling around our head. There is no wrong way to do morning pages, just let yourself write. This allows us to get rid of unwanted thoughts, worries and clutter. Clearing all the junk away allows us to connect to our inner child, which apparently is our artists inventive brain! Writing this way, without thinking too much, helps the logical side of our brain to stand aside and let our artist brain play! Clearing the path to creation. I still do this when I have a lot on my mind and want to brain dump!
(written for www,wholeminds.org.uk)