The Power of Journaling

Recently, we were discussing our writing motivations in my coaching group. The subject of journaling didn’t come up specifically, but part of my answer to the question reminded me how powerful journaling can be.

I’ve been journaling since I was a teenager who scribbled her angst in a spiral notebook. I used to have that pile of spirals. Maybe I still do.

But the power of journaling isn’t in rereading what you’ve written. Although, it can be enlightening about our spiritual journey if we do revisit the pages five or more years later.

The power of journaling lies in the fact that it can help us sort our emotions. Why do you think so many counselors and therapists recommend keeping a journal?

I like using what I call my “Rants” or “Musings” files on my computer to let go of any strong emotions I’m feeling about the news, personal issues or whatever else might be stirring up my post-menopausal emotions.

If you want to try journaling, consider these points and then grab a pen you love to write with, a notebook of some sort, and start writing.

Turn to it in moments of need

When you’re first starting to journal, it’s easier if you write only when you have something to say.

Like my rants. Something happened that stirred strong emotions in me. I opened the document on my computer and spilled everything I was thinking and feeling.

If you’re sad, pull out the journal. Or if you’re mad. Or if you’re lonely. Or when you’re disappointed.

Think of the journal as your best friend. Someone you can share your heart with and who listens without comment. And without judgment.

Make it a judgment-free zone

As mentioned above, the journal shouldn’t be a place where you’re hoping to do your best writing. Or where you use perfect sentences structure and grammar.

Maybe you’ll jump from topic to topic. Or forget about punctuation and just write all the words. It could be one huge paragraph regardless of the rules that say you have to start a new one if you change topics.

Most importantly, what you write is okay. Even if it’s hateful. These aren’t words that will go out into the world and damage anyone.

These words are meant to heal you. Is it healthier to get the hate out or keep it in? Maybe you’ll say, it’s better not to feel it at all.

Maybe. Maybe not. Sometimes, people act hatefully, and although we would never respond in kind, we might need to vent the frustration and pain their words and actions have caused.

If you’re afraid of someone finding and reading your words, rip out the pages after you write them and toss them in the trash. Or burn them if you must.

But don’t let that fear keep you from releasing your thoughts and feelings onto the page.

Make it a regular habit

Once you’ve discovered the value of writing in a journal, it might be easy to make it a regular habit. But I have never written in my journal daily. And when I try to do that, it becomes stilted rather than a natural expression.

For me, a regular habit means something else. When I’m upset, I journal. When I’m sad, I journal. When I get angry and want to explode, I journal.

So it’s a regular habit for me to journal when I experience strong emotions that need an outlet.

Because I know keeping them in wreaks havoc on my mental health. And medical studies prove it causes stress which is detrimental to physical health.

Journaling is powerful. Pick up a pen and experience the healing benefits of writing.

Do you journal? What other tips do you have?

What do you think? Add to the discussion here.