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Keeping a journal is one amazing way to connect to your mindfulness practice (that’s why we do it in class!). The benefits of journaling are truly endless. Putting your thoughts and emotions down on paper can lower stress, improve your memory, and boost your emotional wellbeing.
Our Founder and CEO, Olivia Bowser, says “Incorporating a regular journaling practice into your life supports overall mental health: it can boost your mood, improve your relationships, drive creativity, improve memory, bring more joy, gratitude, and love to your life.”
If you’re struggling to get started with keeping a journal, read on for the benefits and our top tips to help you build your practice.
Researchers have found that journaling can help people regulate their feelings. The act of writing things down, rather than letting them simply swirl around your mind, actually assists in the processing of those emotions. “For me personally, journaling helps me create space between myself and my thoughts and creates a greater sense of calm,” adds Liv. By getting your emotions down on the page, you slow yourself down which helps minimize stress and anxiety. In fact, studies show that writing about particularly emotional or stressful events actually can alleviate physical and emotional health symptoms.
By establishing a journaling habit, you not only get the benefit of processing your thoughts and feelings through the written word, you also have a log to be able to track your daily progress. Being able to look back on how far you’ve come, or build on a particular journal prompt over time, allows you to relish in and reflect on your growth.
We often rely on conversations with friends and family to help us relieve stress. But right now, our usual support networks might not have the emotional resiliency (or stable internet connection) to offer non-judgmental reinforcement. Journaling can help us work through difficult feelings and actually improve long-term well-being by providing a safe outlet for expression, without the prospect of external judgement or criticism.
Guided journaling prompts can help train our brains to focus away from worrying about future problems and toward living with more intention. A simple gratitude journaling practice can actually increase levels of optimism, which directly improves health and happiness.
Like with any mindfulness routine, when it comes to journaling, keeping up with the habit regularly is important to feel the full benefits. Folding this journaling habit into your routine makes it easier to stick with every day. Set aside dedicated time for sitting with your journal to feel the benefits in your life. “If you practice yoga every morning, build journaling into this time so that you finish your flow with journaling, writing affirmations or whatever comes to you,” recommends Liv, adding: “If you drink coffee every morning, journal with your coffee! The goal is to make it feel natural within your day.”
Many people who have adopted a journaling practice choose to write first thing in the morning. This allows you to start your day feeling clear-headed and focused; any distractions or worries that you wake up with simply get left on the page. Some set a length goal – such as three pages – while others stick to a time limit – such as 10 minutes. There are a number of methods to experiment with and find what works for you.
If you’re going to make the choice to keep a journal, pick out a notebook or diary that visually appeals to you that you’ll love opening up every day. Infuse joy into the process of choosing your journal and make it feel special to write it in daily. Think of your journal as an extension of your personal space: it should feel comfortable, inviting, somewhere you can relax and express your thoughts and feelings. Having a positive association with the notebook itself will make it that much more likely that you will keep up with the daily journal habit.
Remember that your journal is meant just for you. Allow yourself to lean into the privacy your journal affords you to process whatever thoughts and emotions feel at the forefront, without worrying if they make sense to someone else. Knowing that your journal and time you spend journaling is simply for yourself helps take away any pressure of having to “get it right.”
One thing is certain: if you are curious about the benefits of journaling, the best thing to do is simply to begin! Just start writing; don’t get too caught up on the “how” and let your stream of consciousness flow as the pen hits the paper. While journaling alone is a big step in the right direction, it can also be amplified by including regular meditation, a well-balanced diet, and regular exercise.
To journal with a supportive community, join one of our Liberate classes here and build on the power of your practice. You got this!