The Power of Journaling

by Xypher Pino

Icons such as Oprah Winfrey and Bruce Lee, revolutionary geniuses such as Albert Einstein and Thomas Edison, and even influential philosophers of old such as Aristotle and Socrates – these are only a few examples of successful people that have taken advantage of the power of journaling. Why though? What really is journaling and why should someone even journal? In this article, we will discuss the research-proven effects of journaling and how the process of journaling works.

Journaling is the process of writing, or typing, out your thoughts and feelings to be able to understand them more, giving you power over your emotions. By requiring you to take a step back to examine your mental state from a rational point of view, it provides you with deep insight into your life. Journaling is a powerful reflection tool – it significantly increases self-awareness which, according to research, leads to a major improvement in overall quality of life.

Lower levels of depression, anxiety and stress, lower blood pressure, improved lung and liver function; these are some of the benefits that journaling provides according to studies done over the years. It does not just stop with mental and physical health though, there are also cognitive benefits – studies have also shown that journaling leads to higher levels of productivity and consistency, better grades, improved memory functioning, improved overall positivity and higher confidence.

Now, you might be asking, how can the simple process of writing down your thoughts lead to so many positives? Well, that is the power of journaling. Journaling allows for in-depth processing and analysis of one’s thoughts without the bias of emotions in play, which in turn leads to appropriate rational responses to one’s actions and behaviors. If done properly and consistently, journaling can become a life-changer.

Despite what you may think, journaling is simple. Though methods vary from person to person, the process is generally the same. Begin by deciding when and where you will write your journals. For me, I journal every morning and night by using “Day One” – a digital journaling app with an easy-to-use interface and unlimited storage. You do not have to journal every day, just make sure you are doing it consistently and often. Also, it does not matter where you write your journals, as long as you can have a record and have easy access to your writings.

Now that we have a place and time for our journaling, we can now let our minds wander. Simply write out what comes to your mind and let your thoughts run wild – this will allow any powerful emotions you currently have to be expressed and will provide you with a neutral state of mind.

With your feelings out of the way, we can now begin the reflective process. Ask yourself questions that require you to reflect on your day and plan for tomorrow. For me, I ask myself things such as “What is something that worked out really well today?” or “What can I do differently tomorrow?” Questions like these help me identify positive experiences but also help me in identifying aspects of my life that I can improve on. The main focus here is increasing your self-awareness – analyze your mindset and look for the positives and negatives. Doing this will pinpoint the things that you need to keep doing and the things that you need to improve on.

The key thing with journaling is to not overthink the process. Your journal is not a graded assignment, and it is not for the world to see. It is simply a personal, reflective tool you have at your disposal that will lead to your improvement if you take advantage of it. I started journaling during winter break, and it is fascinating to me how much my mindset and my day-to-day approach have changed since then. Hopefully, this article gave you valuable information about journaling and inspired you to start your own journaling adventure!

A sample journal template, courtesy of the Kitchen Table Classroom.

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