Do you keep a journal? Have you tried it, but could not make it a habit? By employing the right strategies for habit formation, integrating journaling into your daily routine becomes much easier. In this blog post, I’ll explore the benefits of journaling, types of journaling, and how you can develop a journaling habit.
🎁 Reflect on Your Life and Prevent Sleepwalking
Are you always on the go? If that’s you, when you reach 80, you might realize you have sleepwalked your entire life! Journaling can prevent that. It gives you time to pause, reflect, and examine your life on a daily basis.
If you’re always on the go, you might think you don’t have time to add another activity to your life! But journaling is one of those activities that yield bigger benefits than your time investment.
🔍 Examine Your Negative Thoughts and Gain Perspective
Do you often feel overwhelmed by your emotions, especially your negative emotions? Journaling is a great tool to calm you down. In your journal, write down all your thoughts. Writing down your thoughts can create distance between you and your thoughts. The key is to avoid using “I” when addressing yourself in the journal; instead, opt for “you,” your name, or the third person.
After you write your thoughts, read them, and examine if those thoughts are backed up by evidence and facts, or if you’re jumping to conclusions. Oftentimes, you realize that your negative thoughts were created by jumping to conclusions without any evidence.
🙏 Pay Attention to the Positive Side
William James, who is known as the “Father of American psychology,” said, “Our life experience will equal what we have paid attention to, whether by choice or default.“
One way to pay attention to the positive side is by keeping a gratitude journal. By writing about what you’re grateful for, you can shift your focus from negative thoughts to positive thoughts, and this shift of attention can help improve your well-being.
A research article, “Pursuing happiness: The architecture of sustainable change,” shows that students who contemplated what they felt grateful for once a week experienced an increase in their well-being.
📋 Use Journaling as an Extension of Your Brain
As mentioned in another post, your working memory, utilized during thinking, is quite limited. It’s to your benefit to reserve as much of your working memory as possible to actually think! So it’s not a good idea to use it to remember things such as your to-do list or your fleeting ideas.
When you have many tasks on your to-do list, write them down to alleviate the overwhelming feeling associated with the volume of work you need to complete.
Also, carry a small journal book. If you want, you can use your phone since you probably carry it all the time. Every time interesting ideas or inspirations come to your mind, take notes before they escape your mind. Then, the following morning, you can write about the day before with the help of the notes. Humor writer David Sedaris says he uses this technique.
📚 Learn from Your Past
You can also draw upon your old journal entries to address your current challenges. By examining your past journal entries, you might notice a recurring pattern of challenges you face in your life. By learning from how your past challenges turned out, you can modify the strategies you use to tackle your current challenges.
🛡️ Recover Your Inner Creativity
A journal is a private place where you can express yourself without judgment or censorship. This freedom can help you discover your true voice and unleash your creativity. If you let your pen or keyboard move freely, you might be surprised at what comes up in the journal.
🌞 Morning Pages
Morning Pages, described by Julia Cameron in “The Artist’s Way,” is one example of using journaling to recover your inner creativity. Cameron encourages you to scribble whatever comes to your mind for 3 pages every morning without any judgment. There is no right or wrong way to write the morning pages.
What’s the point of the morning pages? Cameron says, “To get to the other side.” “Morning pages do get us to the other side: the other side of our fear, of our negativity, of our moods.”
💎 Create a Treasure Trove for the Future
Old journal entries can be one of the best gifts you can give yourself in the future. You can see what you were thinking, what you were struggling with, and what you were paying attention to. The vivid memories of your loved ones can also come back to you.
When you go on a trip, you take a lot of photos because you don’t want to forget about the trip and all the places you visit. Pictures are good, but journals with your emotions and thoughts are even more powerful.
🕐 When to Write in Your Journal
There’s no right or wrong time to journal – it’s all about finding what works best for you. Some people prefer to write in the morning, while others like to reflect on their day at night. You can also keep your journal handy all the time, and write whenever you feel overwhelmed or come up with great ideas. Experiment with different times to find your perfect journaling routine.
🖋️ Analog vs. Digital Journaling
Choosing between analog and digital journaling is a matter of personal preference, as some people find that writing by hand helps them slow down and connect more with their thoughts
If you want to use a digital tool, you can use an app such as Notion and use a journal template.
You can also try the iPad app Notes with an Apple Pencil. By writing on the iPad using the Apple Pencil, Scribble can convert your handwriting into typed text.
You can use dictation if you don’t want to type. For example, use a Google Doc and the Voice Typing tool. You speak to the phone, and Google transcribes it into typed text.
🏆 Building the Journaling Habit
As you can see, there are a lot of benefits to journaling. But developing a journaling habit can be challenging. Fortunately, there are many habit-building techniques you can use.
For example, create a checklist of daily tasks, including journaling, and celebrate each completed item to build momentum and make journaling a favorite habit. Another option is to use the anchor technique, which involves associating journaling with an existing habit like eating a meal or taking a shower.
🎉 Take Action Now
If you’re ready to start journaling, there’s no better time than now. Use habit formation tricks, and experiment with different journaling styles and techniques to find what works best for you. Embrace the power of journaling to enrich your life and appreciate each day more fully. Happy journaling!