In February, I challenged myself to journal every day for one month.
I started journaling as soon as I learned to write. I have filled over 20 notebooks from the age of 4 years old (I’m now 23) and they are my most prized possessions. My answer to the question, “What would you save if your house went on fire?”
My entire life is documented in these pages, my scribbled handwriting, different shades of ballpoint pens.
Lately, over the last two or three years, I’ve journaled much less than I used to.
Nowadays, I only dust off my journal if something really bad is going on. Something so bad to the point where journaling seems to be the only answer.
Reading back over the last few years of journaling, I find memories of my husband’s seizure, fights with my family, relatives dying, and longer lists of depressing events.
I never wanted journaling to become that for me so when February came around, I challenged myself to journal every day.
I can honestly say that I did not journal every day. I maybe missed five or six days, but for the most part, I am happy with how much I journaled.
In fact, I think my challenge for March will be the same thing because I feel the habit hasn’t entirely cemented yet.
Although I still have a while to go, I did learn so much from my month of journaling. Here are three reasons why you should journal every day.
There are proven health benefits to journaling.
James W. Pennebaker has done a lot of research on it and a quick Google search will reveal many results.
In summary, though, this is what he says:
“When we experience a traumatic event or major transition in life, our minds function to process and understand what’s happening to us. Our thoughts can consume us, keeping us up at night or distracting our performance at work or school.
Translating these experiences into language, however, gives us a physical piece to contemplate, perhaps allowing us to better “grasp” what’s going on. “
For me, I have always found this to be true. As previously mentioned, I go to my journal when I need to sort something through – something traumatic. There are times in my life when journaling is my only friend.
And no matter what, even if I do have friends around at a time, journaling will always be a friend.
In my most, shall we say, hormonal years, I did journal every day. In the angsty age of 17, there were days when my journal pages are just full of scribbles. No words. Just lines, wrapping around each other in angry scratches.
That was a physical way for me to express and vent my frustration without doing something worse.
When I journal for therapy, I see my problems on paper. I see where things have gone wrong. I can see where I can make them right.
If you’re feeling alone, overwhelmed, frustrated, anxious – JOURNAL.
Get a notebook, your favourite pen, put on some music, get a cup of tea, and journal. Write it all down. This is between you and your journal, your most loyal confidante. Your journal will never reveal your secrets.
2. You’ll See The Good
Journaling every day in February taught me to see the good in my life.
As I said, the last few years, I’ve only journaled about the negatives. If someone read it, they’d think nothing good ever happened to me.
But of course, that isn’t true.
When you journal every day, you’ll see more good than you’re used to seeing because (hopefully) not all your days are bad ones.
In fact, some are really good.
Some are amazing.
Some are the best days ever.
And you might not remember them, reflect on them, bask in them, if you didn’t write them down.
Try journaling every day in order to see the good, count your blessings, remind yourself that life is good.
3. Enhance Your Writing
I firmly believe that everyone is a writer.
I teach creative writing workshops every month and I always start my class by saying:
It’s all been said before.
But it hasn’t been said by you.
Your voice is unique. Your voice is special. Your voice can speak volumes.
I think practicing expressive writing is something everyone should be taught to do. From there, you can become a poet, a fiction writer, an author.
Journaling will surely lead you down that path. Journaling will enhance your writing.
Especially if you’re journaling every day.
On the days when you feel, ‘Oh, there isn’t much to write about today,’ (because let’s face it – we all have those days), you should still write.
Use it as an opportunity to craft your writing, use new expressions, broaden your vocabulary.
Write, journal every day, to experiment.
So, before you go to bed tonight, bring out a notepad, an old journal, a piece of a paper, the back of a receipt, and write something.
It could change your life.