It’s no secret that journaling has become almost synonymous with self-care. Although journaling has emerged as more of a trend than as something actually practical for life, we should not neglect the benefits of journaling. The idea of journaling is usually one of those things reserved for less busy days (if there ever really are) and not given much thought aside from thinking about wanting to actually begin journaling. I have always enjoyed picking up an empty notebook and filling it up with floating thoughts and beginnings of stories before tossing it aside half-filled. I was never one to make journaling a habit, but I have come to realize that there is no formula to journaling. Journaling is a process of expression and self-exploration. There is no one way to go about it. Whether you make collages with magazine cutouts or fill three pages up each month, journaling is all up to you. All you have to do is actually do it—you won’t regret it.
Benefits of Journaling
The practice of writing thoughts down in a stream-of-consciousness pattern is not a new trend in of itself. Journaling has been established as a way to sort through emotions and bring forth clarity, among other things. According to an article from The New York Times, the benefits of journaling range from “a boost in mindfulness” to enhanced “memory and communication skills.” Personally, journaling encourages me to actually dedicate a chunk of time to something that inspires and entertains me. Sometimes I just need a break from the constant clicking on my laptop and obsessive refreshing of my email. Training my eyes on something other than my to-do list breathes freshness into my day and helps keep me focused when I do begin to check off those boxes on my list.
There’s No One Way to Journal
Plenty of sources will assert that writing each day is required to gain any of the benefits of journaling. I’m not saying we shouldn’t pay attention to credible studies, but I have also realized that journaling is a very personal experience. I have a typical bullet journal. However, I don’t have the Pinterest-esque artwork gracing each page. Instead, I do as I please. Some pages hold wildly written blocks of text or have thick layers of stickers laid edge to edge. My favorite pages are the ones where I plaster on my favorite cutouts from magazines. Maybe your journal will resemble more of a traditional journaling notebook with neatly written entries or will be your space to get creative with your artwork. The point is that if you feel compelled or inspired to journal in a certain way, then go for it.
Just Stick with It and Reap the Benefits
For many (including myself), journaling can become something that is more of a commitment than for enjoyment. It’s almost intimidating, and I completely understand that. I have struggled to keep up a regular journal my whole life, which has left me with really cute half-filled notebooks cluttering my bookshelf back home. Once you acknowledge that journaling does not necessarily mean writing three pages each day, then you can start to incorporate it into your routine with ease. Pasting cutouts, scribbling random words or lines, and pretending I have artistic talent is my way of unwinding. Some weeks I crack open my journal multiple times and other weeks I don’t peek into it at all. If you stick to the type of journaling that brings you peace of mind, then you are already enjoying the benefits of journaling.
Tell us what self-care means to you in the comments below!
Opening image by Deidre Saia.