10 Benefits of Journaling That Will Change Your Life
Journaling can benefit absolutely anyone and it isn’t just for “the creative types” or someone who’s just cut their bangs and is clearly going through some shit.
My first true experience with journaling came when I took a non-credit journaling course at the local community college with my mom when I was about 9. It gave me an outlet that allowed me to express myself. As an only child experiencing the divorce of her parents, having that space was a god-send when I didn’t know what was happening or how to talk about it with anyone.
Don’t remember much about that course (either because I was 9 or the instructor wasn’t memorable..probably both), but it kicked off (or maybe solidified) a life-long obsession with exploring my thoughts through journaling.
Now, I use it to enhance my therapy / mental health practice, record daily gratitude, and even manifest some pretty amazing things. This is by no means an exhaustive list of benefits of journaling, but these 10 should be pretty compelling reasons why you may want to start a journaling habit of your own.
Release emotionsThere are times when the act of just writing something is enough to help release any pent-up emotions you’re feeling. I like to grab my pen and journal when I start to feel antsy yet can’t tear myself away from just one more episode of Below Deck that’s been playing on a loop.
(Anyone else miss when streaming services asked if you were still there and gave you the option to keep subjecting your brain to trash? Now, it’s just like “Ahahahaha, sucker. Enjoy the same VW commercial over and over.”)
Avoiding our emotions is no way to make ourselves feel better. So writing about what you're feeling is a much better alternative than numbing, avoiding, or otherwise trying to distract yourself from what’s in your mind.
Sort through your thoughtsI often don’t know what I'm thinking until I journal about it or verbally process it. Having a journaling routine allows me to dump everything I’m thinking into one place and sort through it so I can begin to address anything that's happening in a logical, clear way.
If you need to have a conversation with someone, but don’t know where to start, journaling it out is a great way to begin processing how you feel so you can then directly communicate your thoughts with someone else.
Remember the good
People think of journaling during bad times — and it certainly can help in the throes of the shit, but that isn’t the only time you can reach for your journal. In fact, anticipating and recalling an event (not just doing the thing) add to your enjoyment of said event. Use your journal as a way to recall the good and boost your pleasure of it!
Record the good times to help you remember milestones or even little things that made you smile throughout the day. Put it in your planner or daily calendar if you want a yearly snapshot of what happened or record it in your journal at the end of the night with your gratitude journaling practice.
Have a safe space to explore
Whether you don’t want to share your emotions (either good or bad) or you’re not sure how you feel about them and you’re not ready to share just yet, a journal is a safe space to explore however you’re feeling. It won’t judge, talk back, spill your secrets behind your back, or think you’re a terrible person.
However, it will help you explore how you’re feeling and allow you to have a positive, supportive place for an adult tantrum or to get curious about something you don’t want to speak out loud yet.
Record your daily gratitude
It’s been shown that a daily gratitude practice can do all sorts of positive things. Just google “gratitude practice benefits” and be amazed at the ways in which this seemingly insignificant daily habit will make you instantly more attractive, smell better, and turn cupcakes into kale in your stomach.
(Okay, I made those up. But I’m sure it’s just a matter of time and daily gratitude journaling really is life changing!)
Make it a habit to write down at least three things you’re grateful for (and why) before bed every night and watch how your outlook changes.
Dream and plan for the future
A visualization practice or other way to anchor into your dreams for the future is a great use for your daily journaling habit. By writing down your goals and dreams, you’re not only organizing your thoughts and what you want for your life, but you’re also telling the Universe, “Hey, this is what I’m aiming at! Let’s make it happen!” This beginning of a plan or contract is a fantastic way to begin to set goals and push them into motion.
Also, we remember what we write, so if we write down a goal, it’s much more likely that you’ll take action on it than if you just think about it (or even type it into your iPad or laptop).
Manifest some good things
Similarly, you can use your journaling habit to manifest the good that you want to come into your life. I like to jot down my mantras/affirmations/beliefs if I’m stuck and don’t know what to write. It’s like the positive version of writing out your punishment on the chalkboard (hello, Bart Simpson). Write it enough times and you’ll believe it!
Heal emotional wounds
“Collective trauma” is tossed around a lot right now...and it’s true. We all have trauma in our lives and journaling is a fantastic way to sort through your emotions and write about how you’re feeling. Writing is therapeutic and a fantastic way to begin (or continue) the healing process.
Using your journal as a safe outlet to explore, you can write about what happened, how you feel, explore where you are now, and even write an alternate ending for yourself to empower you. Of course, please seek out expert help from a trained therapist to support you in this phase of your journey.
Get in touch with your intuition
Writing in conjunction with tarot or oracle cards is a great way to ask a question and process the guidance you receive from your intuition. You can ask the cards a question at the beginning of your session, receive the card that’s meant for you, then journal about what it means.
You’ll also now have a “tarot journal” of sorts that you can look back on and see how your relationship with your tarot or oracle deck has evolved and how the cards relate to you, your life, or a specific situation you’re in.
Discover lessons and revelations about yourself
Sometimes through the process of writing, something will come out of your pen that totally surprises you… and that’s awesome! It clearly came up because it needs to be released, processed, or discovered. Now, you have a space to explore that and get to know more about yourself!
When you form a daily writing habit, you’ll have a record of what’s happened so you can learn from your past and discover deeper thoughts you might have not known about.
Having a daily journaling practice will help you harness the benefits of journaling for yourself so you can start to heal old wounds, dream about the future, and increase your enjoyment of your life by recording and recalling good things that have happened in the past.
Find a compelling reason that will get you into a daily (or weekly) habit to start. Whatever blows your hair back is totally up to you — the point is to just do it!
And it doesn’t have to be a “dear diary” situation, either. Start making lists or just write out your goals a la Bart and you’ll be on your way to enjoying the benefits of daily journaling.
Or, if you’re stuck, you can use journal prompts (like the ones found in my free download, 14 Self-Discovery Prompts To Use to Create (or Enhance) Your Journaling Practice, or in the Untitled Self-Discovery and Journaling Cards deck) to help guide your practice. Again, the idea is to just do it and feel amazing!