Described by the New York Times as ‘one of the most effective acts of self-care’ due to its low cost and accessible nature, it’s clear why journaling is a tool used by many.
Whether it takes the form of a productivity journal or one centred on reflection and gratitude, the perks of writing for no one but yourself are myriad, from improved communication skills to better stress management. That’s why Scoodle has put together this guide to journaling for beginners!
Let’s look closer at different types of journaling and their numerous benefits!
Types of journaling
What type of journal you begin writing will depend on your goal. So for those focusing on wellbeing and positivity, a daily gratitude or reflective journal might be an option worth exploring. Alternatively, for budding writers, creative journaling can be a tool extremely helpful in cultivating ideas whilst improving your clarity of expression.
Of course, if you have no set aim for your journaling practice that’s totally fine too. Sometimes it feels good to write with no particular outcome in mind.
Here are a few different journaling ideas to get you thinking:
- Creative writing journal
- Digital journal/ blog
- Gratitude journal
- Reflective/ diary journal
- Productivity journal (e.g. a bullet journal for organisation and habit tracking)
- Learning journal (writing to learn rather than writing to prove what you’ve learnt)
Next, let’s explore further the benefits of keeping a journal.
1.Improved communications skills
When you begin regularly writing in any sense, in turn, you’d expect to see improved clarity of writing and expression. Journaling is no different. Having said this, although your written communication skills are bound to improve, there’s also nothing wrong with your writing style being an unplanned stream of consciousness. Simply journaling for enjoyment without a specific focus on improving your written work can be cathartic and its value shouldn't be undermined.
When we consider health today, its impossible not to consider mental wellbeing and it just so happens that journaling can have a huge impact in this realm. In fact, a growing body of research confirms that journaling has excellent therapeutic effects on our brains.
Daily journal keepers have long professed the benefit that the act of physically writing something down seems to ‘unlock’ a part of the mind that talking or doing simply cannot.
Journaling can be a mechanism for introspection and self-reflection, strengthening our relationship with ourselves and increasing self-awareness. Specifically, developing the ability to understand your thoughts and emotions will put you in a better position to manage and control them as well as increasing your ability to empathise. Put simply, when you keep a journal, you improve your emotional intelligence tenfold.
The phenomenon of keeping a diary journal and writing your way to emotional wellbeing is referred to by psychologists as the Bridget Jones effect. They discovered that the part of the brain responsible for controlling the intensity of emotions -the amygdala- saw reduced activity whilst research volunteers journaled and concluded that ultimately, “writing seems to help the brain regulate emotion unintentionally.” Perhaps this state of emotional regulation is the part of the mind that avid journal keepers suggest is ‘unlocked’ only by writing.
Journaling is also proven to help in gearing yourself towards being more productive and can even minimise how often you procrastinate. The powerful tool offers an antidote to the chaos of hectic daily life, offering ta sense of structure.
Try listing your yearly, monthly, weekly, and daily goals in advance. Break them into more achievable tasks and then organise by priority. Writing in this way - keeping time management front of mind - will encourage better focus when it comes to executing tasks. As time management is directly proportional to increased productivity, it’s no surprise that journaling in this way also cultivates productivity.
Research suggests that if you journal for as little as 10 minutes a day you will see noticeable benefits as you begin to utilise your time more effectively. As we enter the new year, you likely have set some new goals. Why not try journaling to define your them and track your progress.
In summary, the only thing you’ll regret when it comes to journaling is not having started sooner.
The innumerable benefits of keeping a journal certainly haven’t all been covered here but this should be enough to pique your curiosity. Perhaps give a diary journal a go just for one week or experiment with other types of journaling. Now you understand the basics of journaling for beginners, once you begin the daily practice you'll quickly be able to observe the changes to your productivity, communication skills and most importantly to your peace of mind.
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