We have all heard that journaling is a good thing to do but is it really beneficial and how does it benefit me when I begin to journal? We have all probably had times when we heard that journaling was a good thing and we start for a time but don’t stay with it. I am guilty! I get that it is hard to keep it up consistently but journaling, especially when you are going through a chaotic life season, is beneficial.
Journaling looks different for everyone. Some are quite the writers so journaling is beautiful, creative and often share-worthy. Me, I am a bullet point person. I was previously a creative writer but somewhere between an English teacher who basically told me to stop “being so flowery” in my writing and just say what I needed to say and graduate school where, even if you are a good writer, your professors will tear your writing to shreds as each is looking for something quite different from the other, I became a “just the facts ma’am” type of writer. When I journal, I find that just putting it down on paper, knowing no one will likely read it, is helpful. So whatever your writing style, consider giving it try.
Journaling gives us a place to put down in words all of those things floating around in our minds and that in itself is valuable. Often journaling relieves anxiety as putting all of these thoughts to paper will free our mind to deal with what remains. When you put your thoughts down on paper, you are better able to deal with them and prioritize them into categories, such as: What do I need to Deal with Now and What Can Wait; What Can I do Something About and What is Beyond My Control; What is True and What is Not; and the list goes on depending upon your particular thoughts.
Journaling gives us a “remembrance”. Sometimes when I am struggling with a particularly hard time in life, I go back in my journals and see just how far that I have come or how I dealt with (survived) another particularly hard time. In the Old Testament often they build tabernacles or places of remembrance to reflect upon the past and encourage them in the present. God tells us to remember His faithfulness. We think that we will never forget particular times or things that have happened, but we do.
Journaling is also good for sharing with those in our support system who can help us to “sort through” and analyze those things that need our attention. That may be a counselor or a trusted friend or family member. I often have my clients journal. Some do it well and some are still trying to make it a habit. Remember, that this is ok. If you begin to journal and forget or find yourself just not that into it, begin again. It is valuable when you do it but not a reason to beat yourself up when you don’t. I once worked with a counselor that said she saw the brain as having bandwidth. You only have so much, so putting some of those thoughts onto paper allows you to use the bandwidth for the things that you need to deal with and analyzing those thoughts. I think that is wise and I know that is true!