Keeping a journal or a diary is something that we associate most with our elementary or middle school days, where the pages were filled with an embarrassing amount of grammatical mistakes and exaggerations of now seemingly trivial situations. Looking back, many of us see writing in a journal as something so juvenile; a waste of valuable time that can be spent doing something constructive like studying for an exam or refining a resume.
But what if having a journal isn’t childish? What if the routine of writing in a journal can actually be beneficial to us now? Here’s just a few reasons why you should, in fact, get back to your adolescent ways and jot a few things down every once in a while…
In the heat of the moment, you may think or respond in a way that, looking back, may not have been appropriate for the situation. Keeping a journal will make you more conscious of the present and allow you to logically engage with your thoughts and actions.
Make your goals more realistic and achievable
Sometimes thinking about a future goal that you want to achieve isn’t enough to incite the change needed to make it happen. Physically writing out your goals, dreams or desires make them more real: more concrete. Taking the time to write out and/or plan how to achieve those goals makes you feel more accountable to actually reach them.
Manage your emotions
If you’re someone that harbors your emotions, writing them all out in a journal can be immensely cleansing for your mind and conscience. Some experiences may be extremely private or embarrassing, so talking to someone about it may not be an option. Getting everything out onto paper not only validates how and what you’re feeling, but it also gives you the same release you feel after disclosing something to someone else (even if you’re just writing words down for only your eyes to see).
Help with memory
The practice of writing daily journals creates a chronology of your life experiences. If you’re having a stressful, or even a good day, re-reading journal entries can lift your mood and remind you of happy memories, or how far you’ve come since your last less-than-happy experience.
As we get older, we learn that life becomes more and more serious, and the list of responsibilities appears endless. We find that even though getting older also comes with more privileges, we nonetheless still find ourselves slightly envious of the pre-school children that get to run around outside, take naps and play pretend. What’s most admirable about them though, is their naivety and imagination. Keeping a journal can expand our shrinking creativity and imagination, and bring back some of that childish perspective that allowed us to approach everything with a blank slate.
There are countless strategies to keeping a journal; there is not one “right” or “wrong” way to organize your thoughts or ideas. You’re not writing a novel, so don’t be worried about everything being spelled correctly or being perfectly legible, a journal is a space to work out your own personal experiences by yourself, for yourself. Don’t buy into the idea that keeping a journal is only for people who are extremely emotional, because everyone, regardless of how many (or few emotions) you feel, can benefit from this practice.