For most people, the thought of journaling brings to mind a teenager scribbling about their high school crush in extreme detail. But if you’ve followed the lives of successful people like Theodore Roosevelt and Benjamin Franklin, you may have noticed something they had in common – journaling. Most prominent people started journaling at a young age, and it paid off in many ways.
There’s no wrong or right time to start a journal. You can start journaling at any point in your life; however, there are specific times that journaling is especially helpful, such as to help you clear mental clutter, during recovery from surgery and addiction, to improve your self-discipline, and at the start of a new year.
Whatever your motivation for journaling is, it is a very beneficial practice. And if you don’t know where to start or what to journal about, you can use this article as a guide. The following sections share the benefits of journaling and how to start and keep up with the habit.
The Right Time to Start Journaling
The benefits of journaling cannot be overestimated. From helping to clear mental clutter to improving your memory and aiding in healing and recovery, there are a plethora of reasons why you should start journaling. But when is the right time? It’s different for everyone. The following are some of the best times to begin journaling.
When You Need to Clear Mental Clutter
One of the many benefits of journaling is that it helps to clear your mind. On days that you feel overwhelmed with thoughts, transferring what you’re thinking onto a paper makes it easier for you to focus and analyze the situation for what it is.
Journaling helps clear the mind by:
- Activating the rational side of your brain
- Releasing negative feelings
- Helping you identify emotional triggers
- Helping you explore scenarios that trigger anxiety
Journaling is also an excellent habit because it facilitates healing. A study showed that continued journaling and expressive writing helps wounds heal faster. (Source: Medical Express)
Journaling has also proved useful in:
- Relieving symptoms of people suffering from conditions such as asthma and Rheumatoid arthritis.
- Treating eating disorders. By writing, affected individuals can be able to track their meals and eating habits, which may be instrumental in fighting the disease.
- Managing depression, stress, and anxiety. Journaling not only helps clear the mind but helps patients dealing with depression and anxiety cope better.
- Helping with PTSD. Writing about your emotions and trauma helps reduce your inhibited emotions and the stress that comes with them.
When You Need to Improve Self-Discipline
If you’re stuck in the rut of continuously procrastinating your goals, journaling is an excellent way to motivate yourself and start doing instead of dreaming. With a journal, you’re in a better position to dig deeper into your purpose and create steps to achieving what you want. Not to mention, it’s a visual reminder of what you need to do.
Some of the ways you can use journaling to improve self-discipline include:
- Identify your why: Write down all the reasons why achieving this or that goal is essential to you. How will it make your life better? What do you lose when you procrastinate?
- Give your goal a clear definition: Before you begin, define your goal in clear terms. For example, if you want to lose weight, be specific by saying, “I want to lose 10 pounds in 2 months.”
- Make your journal a source of inspiration: Use images, collages, graphs, and anything else you like to make your journal as motivating as possible.
- List do-able steps: Write down everything you need to do to accomplish your goal and assign each task a deadline.
- Identify what pulls you back: What makes you stop working on your goals. How can you do better when faced with similar challenges
At the Start of a New Year
You’ve probably heard people say that writing down your goals increases your chances of accomplishing them. They are not wrong.
Some of the ways to use a journal to achieve your New Year’s resolutions include:
- Bullet journaling: List to-do tasks that are related to your goals to help you ensure you’re doing something to move towards your goal every day.
- Schedule your entries: Create time to journal every day. Write down the things you did to move closer to your goals or jot down new ideas that came to mind during the day.
- File memories: Whenever you achieve a milestone, keep it in your records. For example, if your goal is to lose weight, and you managed to lose 5 pounds, take pictures and pin them on that day’s journal entry.
- Go back for motivation: Some days will be harder than others. Make a habit of reading your previous entries to remember how far you’ve come and draw inspiration from that.
Useful Journaling Tips for Beginners
Most people have the idea of starting a journal but never execute it because they don’t know where to begin or what to journal about. The following tips will help you start on the right foot:
- Stop procrastinating: When it comes to journaling, there is no right or wrong time to do it. However, if you keep postponing it, you’ll never get to it. If you have the willingness to write, all you need to do is to get a pen and journal and write what comes to mind.
- Find a quiet place: It’s also a good idea to find a place with few distractions like an office or quiet room. This way, you’ll be able to focus on your writing and concentrate. It’s will also provide a better environment to clear your mind if you’re stressed out.
- Brainstorm: If you want to journal purposefully, it may also be an excellent idea to brainstorm journaling ideas. Do you want your journal to be a record of your day to day activities? Do you want it to be a record of your business ideas or projects? Think about what you’d enjoy journaling about most and go with that. Chances are you’ll stick to the habit if you’re journaling about something you enjoy or something close to your heart.
- Go with the flow: In journaling, you don’t have to worry about grammar and following a specific structure. The idea is to follow your train of thought and emotions. With this approach, you’re in a better position to journal about things that will give you real meaning when you look back.
You also don’t have to journal the way you see other people doing it. You can make it as personal as possible. If you feel like adding pictures, diagrams, or drawings, go for it. And most importantly, keep your journal private to avoid personal details getting into the wrong hands.
There’s no wrong or right time to start journaling. If you have the willingness to write, you can start any time you wish. Just take the time to brainstorm journaling ideas and think of things you could do to make the habit stick. For instance, if you work better with lists than blocks of text, you should consider bullet journaling. It’s all up to you.
As you have seen, there are incredible benefits that stem from the simple act of writing your ideas and thoughts on paper. So why wait when you can reap the benefits now? Grab a paper and start your journaling journey today!