Following on from the last post in which we explored Reflection, I would like to now discuss the benefits of keeping a journal.
Journaling is different things to different people, but for myself it is a record of my reflections. It is also a reminder of what has been accomplished and moments which I want to remember and revisit. Alongside this, it also serves as a record of everything which has been attempted unsuccessfully, and the lessons which have been learned from those particular experiences. As you journal about an event which you experienced, you relive it, and have an opportunity to process and analyse it. By keeping a journal and a log of my reflections, I have developed an increased awareness of my actions and behaviours. This in turn has helped me to form better habits. While forming a record of my achievements and milestones, it also highlights the associated thoughts, feelings and decisions made, while also documenting my journey of self-discovery. It is interesting to read old journal entries and reflect on how I have changed and grown, and how my decisions and actions have led me to where I find myself today.
Journaling, however, is more than just the act of keeping a record of your observations. For many people it offers a release from the stresses of daily life, and can help to reduce anxiety. Furthermore, it can also help in gaining perspective and focus as well as helping people to become better organised and more accountable for their decisions and actions. It can offer a way to harness your creativity, but perhaps most importantly, writing in a journal allows you to examine your thoughts and feelings more logically and critically.
How do you keep a journal?
Personally, as previously discussed, my journal is my personal story with a focus on my thoughts, feelings and decisions as well as my actions. It helps to reduce stress in my daily life as well as offering perspective and helping me to identify opportunities for growth and progress towards my goals which were not apparent at first glance.
Stream-of-consciousness writing is the approach I favour. This is the process of simply putting pen to paper and writing whatever comes to mind. I have found this to be very enlightening, revealing thoughts, feelings and worries which I was unaware of but were affecting my daily life. There is, however, a wealth of information online as to alternative approaches to journaling, with prompts and questions to help you get started.
There are a number of different formats too, when keeping a journal. My preferred method is pen and paper, or a leather-bound refillable journal and a good fountain pen to be exact. This is ideal for me, as I appreciate the privacy it offers as well as the control I have over my writing. I also have a notepad and pen with me at all times to capture any thoughts or reflections which may come to me in quiet moments.
Pen and paper is not for everyone though and there are a number of excellent apps and programmes available. I like Evernote for its ease of use, but there are plenty more to explore and find whichever works best for you. Blogging is another option. In this instance you forego the privacy of an app or a paper journal, but you are able to share your experiences and thoughts with a much wider audience.
Having explored the topic of reflection, and how journaling can be used as a tool, the next post will look at the importance of making space in your daily schedule for some quiet time.
As always, please feel free to share your thoughts and experiences. Would be interesting to learn about how you feel about keeping a journal and your preferred format.