Four reasons successful people keep a regular daily journal
Journals are often associated with teenage girls – a diary where they write about their crushes, friendships and fears. Few individuals carry this habit into adulthood. Yet, mental health experts tout keeping a journal as one of the most valuable things we can do for wellbeing. Here are four reasons why:
1 Journaling benefits your immune system
In his book, Writing to Heal, psychologist and researcher Dr James Pennebaker details cases where he has seen improved immune function in participants of writing exercises; particularly an increase in T-lymphocytes. Pennebaker believes that writing about your thoughts and feelings surrounding stressful events helps you to process them, thus reducing the impact of these stressors on your physical health.
2 Journaling is good for your emotions
It boosts your EQ and induces mindfulness because it organises your thoughts. Journaling gives you perspective because you become an observer of your own life and decisions. This detached angle helps you see connections and patterns, replacing overwhelm with clarity. Journaling thus heightens your self-awareness – a powerful catalyst to change. Changes could include career changes, improving self-esteem, ending toxic relationships, creating new habits or even uncovering hidden talents.
3 Journaling is good for your spirit
It fosters creativity and problem solving. Stressful issues become infinitely more manageable because they are no longer swirling around in the tiny claustrophobic space that is your mind. This noticeably reduces anxiety, insomnia and depression. One cause of insomnia is unresolved issues spilling over into your sleep. Journaling crystallises those thoughts and helps your brain find solutions either prior to retiring or in your sleep. Kristian Marlow, author of The SuperHuman Mind, speaks of journaling as a way to encourage lucid dreaming – apparently an amazing tool for problem solving.
4 Journaling helps you understand yourself
It is a permanent record of your life. How you tell your story has a powerful effect on how you view yourself and who you become. You get to learn from your past and chart your present to shape your future. In this way, journaling helps you to live more authentically because it gives voice to your innermost aspirations. Journaling enables you to set goals and align your path to match up with these true desires. As you periodically review your entries, you will be able to track your growth.
Kids can do it too
From as young as 7 years old, ask them to write the stories they have for the day. Make it fun and encourage them to incorporate drawings. Buy older kids a special diary.
The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron. This book encourages ‘morning pages’ – a daily writing habit to encourage creativity and the free flow of thoughts, feelings and ideas.
Journaling websites we like: 750words.com, ohlife.com, memilog.
Journaling apps: DayOne, Momento, My Wonderful Days, Journey, Penzu, Flava, Diaro.
How to begin
Nairobi-based counselling psychologist Wandia Maina advises:
“Daily at the onset. This programmes you to take time to reflect and process the incidents of your day. Once this habit sticks, journaling is beneficial when done a minimum of twice a week.”
“It does not matter what mode you use so long as the process is easy and practical. If you keep a physical diary, the act of writing by hand is in itself therapeutic. If you keep an electronic one, you can password-protect it, use it across different platforms, set reminders and store your information on a cloud.”
Want to journal effectively? Follow Wandia’s four-step process:
1 What was important to me lately?
2 How did I react?
3 How can I improve my response in future?