Keeping a diary isn’t just for angst ridden teenagers, recording all their troubles, loves and losses under the duvet in a cheap secret diary with a padlock and a tiny key. Nor is it just for politicians, pop idols or movie stars waiting for the right moment to give their adoring fans an insight into the world of the rich and famous, documenting their sometimes shocking antics for prosperity.
Journaling, as keeping a diary is better known nowadays, is actually good for your health, and there’s a growing body of scientific evidence to prove it. A study at the University of Arizona found that people who kept a daily journal after divorce were better able to move forward with their lives, and other research has shown that journaling is effective in reducing depression and anxiety and strengthening the immune system. Can you believe that the simple act of writing about your day can increase the production of T-lymphocytes (important immune cells) in your body? Amazing!
It’s thought that by writing things down, you express your emotions on paper and give your anxious feelings a structure that reduces stress and the harmful physical effects it has on the body.
I love journaling – I’ve been doing it for years. I also love writing poems; I love doodling, drawing and creating artwork; I love just putting pen to paper in whatever way occurs to me at the time. In fact, after I’ve completed a movement session or a meditation, I like to open one of my beautiful notebooks and just write, draw or scribble my feelings, expressing the movement and the release, however feels right in that moment. My journal is where I release my inner creativity, develop my ideas and process support. It’s where I really learn about myself.
Getting your feelings, worries, anxieties and joys out of your head and onto paper each day is a very cathartic process, helping you to feel more relaxed and even putting situations into perspective so you can find solutions to problems or issues.
Nowadays, many people keep on online blog, some even reveal their deepest thoughts and feelings to the wider universe, but most people who journal like to use a lovely notebook (or two). After all, who doesn’t love the feel and smell of quality paper? You don’t need to write in sentences, you can use lists, draw mind maps, doodle, collage… It’s up to you – use whatever works for you.
Journaling is a tool that I recommend to many of my clients, mainly to develop self-awareness. Self-awareness starts with identifying your thoughts and feelings, spotting patterns and then learning how you can best deal with them.
Journaling helps you to gain a better insight into an issue or situation, putting it into perspective and noticing things that you may have overlooked when it was actually taking place.
Journaling is a perfect tool for reflection. It’s your chance to step back and look at your day objectively. We’re often so busy rushing from one thing to the next that we don’t have time to just stop and think, reflect, contemplate and understand ourselves, our feelings and reactions. In fact, you could think of journaling as a form of mindfulness, a way to pay attention to the little things in life that matter, a way of noticing.
Journaling will help you to determine your why. Why you felt the way you did, why you acted as you did, why you said what you did. It allows you to notice the causes and when negativity has crept into your life and how you reacted, allowing you to change that reaction in future (if you want to, of course).
Journaling can be a form of release. Through journaling, drawing or writing poems, darker parts of yourself that are hidden away can be allowed to have their say, to fully express themselves, which can be very liberating and brings about more wholeness within yourself where all aspects of you and your personality are welcomed with open arms. Nothing is taboo.
Journaling regularly allows you to see patterns and helps you to see how far you’ve come. It helps you to appreciate your achievements and big wins. In fact, you may wish to note in your journal one or two things you’re grateful for each day. A journal I use regularly for this purpose is this Five Minute Journal.
In a previous blog post, I’ve written about embracing your menstrual cycle, using its power to inform decisions and actions about your health, wellbeing and life choices. But if you don’t know what your unique monthly ebbs and flows of energy are and how your thoughts and feeling change throughout each month, how can you use your cycle to unlock your innate superpowers? Well, lovely woman, that’s where journaling comes in.
What better way of developing your awareness of your menstrual cycle than through journaling?
It’s simple really and won’t take very long, but it’s super powerful. At the end of every day, record which day of your cycle you’re on (day one is the first proper day of your period, ignore the spotting before you bleed properly) and then write whatever comes to you – your feelings, your dreams, your energy levels, whatever… Over time you’ll start to see patterns. Maybe you always start to feel like hibernating around days 23 or 24. So, that’s really not the right time for you to organise to go out on the town with the girls. But then again, you’re full of energy around day 14, so perfect, that’s the time for a big get together, or to organise your book launch or go networking. Maybe when you try to fit in as much as possible during the high energy summer phase of your menstrual cycle, you suffer from crippling PMS. Your journal will reveal all this to you, and more, and you can start to work with it, rather than fighting it.
This summer, I was lucky enough to be asked to help with creating a Yoga journal which will be on sale on the High Street soon. I’m not allowed to say who for, but I will let you know when it’s out in the shops and give you a few clues.
As well as creating journals, I specialise in working with women one to one and enjoy being part of their journey of reconnection and self-discovery. I support women to find more balance and harmony in their lives by deepening their inner connection to their own body’s needs, helping them cope pre-conception, with fertility issues, prenatally, postnatally or during times of transition, grief or loss and helping alleviate the symptoms of menstruation, perimenopause or menopause. If you feel that you would benefit from some nurturing allwoman support, please get in touch.