The Benefits of Journaling

Hey, it's Rachel The benefits of journaling

I was having a chat with some friends on ways we can get to know ourselves better and we started talking about journaling. I journal pretty much every day, so I thought I’d share what my experience has been like.

I have a gazillion thoughts running through my head all the time, and if I didn’t get them out of my head somehow, I’d probably go crazy. Like legit. I’ve found that the easiest method for me to keep a journal is using iNotes, since it syncs across all my Apple devices and is great for when I’m on the go. It’s also easy to search stuff up if I ever need to find something I’d written about. I just make a new note for each day.

I still love writing stuff with pen and paper though, so I have some notes scattered across my notebooks as well. This is kinda annoying since I’ll have to consolidate it into my digital records one day so everything is in one place. But the process is worth it. There’s just something about writing stuff out physically that makes you think about it more and it tends to spark even more ideas because you activate different parts of your brain and that stuff is churning around in your subconscious mind. Also, I do love my stationery. 😂

This isn’t even my full collection of notebooks… (they’re not all for journaling purposes LOL)

Okay, so what the hell do I write about? All sorts of things. I’m usually reflecting on how I’m feeling in the moment, or what I learned from particular experiences and situations, or the 101 crazy ideas that pop up throughout the day, or just making notes on things that have happened so that I can remember them in the future.

It’s fascinating (and mostly quite hilarious) looking back on all the stuff I’d written in the past because it’s like I managed to capture that moment in time – what I was doing, what I was thinking, who I was with – and I can see how far I’ve come, see what things I did or didn’t end up doing, and there are just so many gems from my random brainstorms where I go “ooooh, I should do that!” 😳

I’m still going through my 400+ pages worth of writing from 2018… makes for great bedtime reading 😅

In terms of getting to know myself better, it’s a useful exercise because I’m gaining some self-awareness around my thoughts about certain things as I’m writing in the present moment. As I mentioned before, it’s also good for clearing my mind of thoughts that are nagging at me when I keep them in my head. Especially when I’m experiencing conflicting thoughts or have some brilliant idea (ha!) that I don’t want to forget. Finally, when I look back on it in the future, it’s a way to track what my mindset was like at certain points in time. Heck, even looking back at some of my blog posts I’m like “jeez, I wrote that?” 💁🏻‍♀️

If writing whatever crap pops into your head isn’t really your thing, or you have no idea what to write about, there are some useful journal prompts out there. Just Google it. Some are related to goal setting, finding your purpose, dealing with your limiting beliefs etc. — you’ll have to try stuff out and find what works for you.   

Here are some suggestions:

  • Kristina from Kikki K has a “101 dreams” exercise in her book “Your Dream Life Starts Here” to help you get inspired about the possibilities for your life (you can download the first chapter for free)
  • Benjamin Hardy recommends writing down your goals and dreams before going to sleep, to intentionally get your subconscious mind to think about ways to make them happen. Then when you wake up, do a brain dump of whatever is on your mind. You might just be surprised at the kind of creative stuff you can come up with since your brain was working hard the whole time you were sleeping!   
  • Sam Brown has some ideas on the different types of journaling you can do (e.g. gratitude journals)
  • Vishen Lakhiani, the founder of Mindvalley, suggested writing down dot points to the prompt “wouldn’t it be nice if…” regarding what you’d like to experience during the day (e.g. wouldn’t it be nice if I made healthy food choices all day today). You’re more likely to follow through with this if you write it first thing in the morning!
  • If you wanna get reaaaallly deep in reflecting on the meaning of life and that kinda philosophical stuff, you can pick up a copy of The Daily Stoic and/or The Daily Stoic Journal by Ryan Holiday or even sign up for the free daily emails to get a taste of the stuff he talks about – some pretty cool principles for living life taken from Roman philosophers like Seneca, Epictetus and Marcus Aurelius (P.S. these old dudes journaled too, back in the day!)

Soooo if you don’t already journal, give it a shot! You don’t have to do it every day, just whenever you can find the time and using whatever method works for you. Plus it’s a great excuse to get new stationery… 😏 

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