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Do you keep a journal? 8 reasons you should start now

Albert Einstein, Frida Kahlo, Leonardo da Vinci, and Frederick Douglass, all had one thing in common—maintaining a journal. These famous figures kept journals to record their thoughts, ideas, experiences perspectives, and opinions.

Now several decades later, the tradition of keeping a journal is not just alive but has also been proven to benefit one’s wellbeing. As tons of evidence attest, there are a number of benefits of journal writing therapy, including identifying and understanding one’s emotions, managing stress, and controlling symptoms of mental illness.

From world leaders to regular folks, many keep a journal to reap its rewards. As Barack Obama said, “In my life, writing has been an important exercise to clarify what I believe, what I see, what I care about, what my deepest values are.”

Keeping a journal can lead to many positive results and improvements in your life. In case you’re still not convinced, this is what you can achieve through regular and effective journaling.

De-stress and let go of negative thoughts

Life is difficult, and at times, stressful too. When things don’t go as planned, stress and negativity weigh you down. Thoughts run wild, while you overthink about the impending doom that exists only in your mind. Journaling is a way of venting that stress and all other intrusive thoughts troubling you.

When you put your pen to paper, your thoughts become visible. Even the most complex thoughts start making sense. As you continue to scribble, you find your way to the root cause of the problem, which is always smaller than you think.

Track your progress

If you write one page a day, you get 365 pages of how your year was. That’s why many CEOs and world leaders rely on journaling to keep a track of their ideas, growth, and personal development. A quick relook at where you were a few months ago can tell if your progress has dropped or increased. It’s like a rewind button that lets you see your life in hindsight. All the decisions you make, the choices you make, the goals you set—everything can be tracked through a journal.

Strengthen your memory

Research published in the Journal of Experimental Psychology: General, “indicates that expressive writing reduces intrusive and avoidant thoughts about negative events and improves working memory.” When you write, your brain processes information in a detailed manner, allowing you to retain more. That’s why the practice of taking notes is cultivated in children from a young age. Several people take this habit into their adult lives as well to keep their memories sharp and thoughts organised.

Boost your creativity

The great Renaissance painter, Leonardo da Vinci, is known for his unparalleled creativity and imagination. His mind was a repository of extraordinary ideas, which he drew or made notes of in his journal. Perhaps, he knew about the power of journaling and how it complements creativity. Even today, artists, thinkers and CEOs use journaling to bring out their creative sides. If you want to let out your creativity but don’t know how to let it flow, then writing a journal might just be the answer to it.

Achieve your goals

When it comes to turning your dreams into reality, the first step is to set goals, and the next step is to execute them. Journaling is one way you can sketch a plan, act on it, and track your progress. That’s why several entrepreneurs and executives are often seen carrying their journals in meetings and conferences to refer to their ideas and record the new ones. So, if you have an ambition or a goal, write down your thoughts on those. The more you write, the more clear and structured your path will become.

Enable self-reflection

If someone asks you what you were doing 10 days ago at five in the evening, there’s a good chance you won’t have the answer. But on the other hand, if you happen to maintain a journal, you can revisit any day. That’s the power of journaling. It not only opens the window to your past but allows you to self-reflect. Perhaps, you may realise how tough the previous years were. You made mistakes, failed a couple of times, and doubted your actions. But today, thanks to your habit of journaling, you can see how far you have come in life.

Build your confidence

Before bedtime, write down five goals you achieved that day. It could be something as regular as watering the plants or drinking seven glasses of water. But when you write down your achievements, the feeling of accomplishment increases your self-confidence and motivates you to do more. The next morning, go through the list again, it acts as an impetus to start the day on a positive note and sets the stage to achieve more goals.

Find emotional comfort 

In times of despair, your journal can be your emotional cushion to fall back on. As you write about an aching experience or a bad day at work, the process of pouring your thoughts into written words can comfort you and help you find solace. This way, it acts as a confidante that shares your distress when the going gets tough and helps you vent your anger and negativity. Later, when you turn to your journal to see what you had written, you might have better clarity in your thoughts and may even find a solution to address the issues.

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