Going back to when I was in JR. High School I have kept a diary on and off. I recently heard an episode of Michael Hyatt's “This is your life” podcast and he talked about the benefits of journaling.
He lists these benefits:
- Process previous events
- Clarify my thinking
- Understand the context
- Notice my feelings
- Connect with my heart
- Record significant lessons
- Ask important questions
As I'm a geek I found Penzu.com This is a free system that is web based. I decided to go pro ($12 a year), and that allows me to synchronize the website with my iPhone. This makes journaling a snap (on my phone) as I can dictate it and have it type it for me. I can also take pictures with my camera. This is going to be cool.
If you need a reasons to start a journal, here are 101 reasons.
We All Want Someone To Listen – Even if It's Yourself
As the old saying goes, its not what you eat – its what is eating you. When you journal you release those thoughts to the world. You don't have to worry about offending anyone, saying the wrong thing, looking stupid, etc. You are writing for your eyes only. Let it out.
Studies have shown that journaling reduces stress. Reduced stress leads to increased healing and better living. In one study (Journal of Clinical Sport Psychology, 2009) , injured elite athletes spent 20 minutes a day for only 3 days writing in journals about their negative experiences related to their injuries and treatment. Four weeks later, as you might expect, their psychological stress levels and mood disturbances were significantly lower than the control group's outcomes.
Journaling can help you organize your thoughts and feelings, increase focus, know yourself better, build self-esteem, manage stress, solve problems more effectively, let go of the past, and resolve disagreements or conflicts with others. Experts believe that by understanding yourself better, you are better able to make decisions that are in line with your values and goals.
Dr. James W. Pennebaker, a professor in the Department of Psychology at The University of Texas at Austin has spent 20 years encouraging people to spend 15 to 20 minutes a day for a few consecutive days writing down their deepest feelings. Pennebaker helped pioneer a study of individuals using expressive writing as a method of healing. He found that short-term focused writing can benefit all types of people, from those dealing with a terminal illness to victims of violent crime to first-year college students.
In short, get your temper out on the page instead of blowing up at loved ones.
While many articles about journaling are about “Letting things out” it can also be used as a pick me up. Write about the good times. This way when things go bad you can look at them and bask in their glow. Let your mind go to a time that makes you feel warm and fuzzy. Journals let you see the hills and valleys. Sure things may not always go the way you want, but you will see in hindsight that you can learn, grow, and prosper again.
The Benefits of Digital Journaling
I'm not sure where my journals are from when I was young. That's not good. That was written for my eyes. This is why I like using a website. You don't have to worry about losing it, and you can password protect. I remember my sister had a diary with a “lock”. It took me all of 2 seconds to crack it and read her diary (like every little brother would do). With a digital journal its never lost or stolen.
With Penzu you can have multiple journals under one login (so if you want to have a journal for work, family, etc).
Getting Started With a Journal
If you're not sure what to write about check out the book Journal to the Self: Twenty-Two Paths to Personal Growth – Open the Door to Self-Understanding by Writing, Reading, and Creating a Journal of Your Life to get your started. If you are looking to journaling as a form of self-counseling check out the book Journalution: Journaling to Awaken Your Inner Voice, Heal Your Life and Manifest Your Dreams
As I mentioned before, I'm using the Penzu website (Free) and I love it.