Some of the most famous historical figures, including Leonardo da Vinci and Marie Curie, kept personal journals throughout their lives to record their emotions and experiences. Keeping a journal to record feelings, worries, and everything that goes through our minds is something that psychologists and coaches recommend as a tool for personal growth. Many people at some point have thought about this option. Perhaps even you are considering starting to write a personal diary, but you don’t know exactly why or where to start. We encourage you to go ahead with this idea because it can bring many emotional and physical benefits. And if you don’t know how to start in this post, we explain everything step by step.
10 good reasons to start writing a personal journal
If there are health benefits of reading and memory training, writing also has many advantages. In fact, writing a journal is a form of therapeutic writing. Within this technique, writing is the therapy that allows us to improve our state of health by expressing our emotions, especially when we are not able to do it with words. This is not to say that a personal diary is only beneficial for people who have difficulty expressing themselves or are traumatized. We can also think of the journal as a place where we can be completely transparent with ourselves and release our thoughts. In this case, it could be seen more like creative writing, an exercise that helps us reflect on day-to-day actions, life projects, desires, or what we are experiencing in a particular period of our life. So the advantages of keeping a journal are many and vary according to the person and the moment. Writing, whether creative or therapeutic, has many benefits for psychophysical health:
- It helps us to recognize our emotions.
- It improves our ability to understand what we feel, known as emotional intelligence.
- It relieves us of worries or obsessive thoughts, relieving anxiety and stress symptoms.
- We learn to see problems from other perspectives.
- We manage to distance ourselves emotionally from problems and face them with a different attitude.
- It helps us to understand and overcome traumas.
- It improves our self-esteem.
- It reduces sadness and helps us to relax. Here are some relaxation techniques that will help you to do this.
- It allows us to organize our ideas and make better decisions.
- It stimulates creativity.
How to start writing a journal?
Writing an intimate or personal diary is not the same as keeping a travel journal. You will have experienced this first hand if you have ever started one without success. Both people who are used to writing and those who never write can have a psychological block when writing a journal. The greatest difficulty is probably the fear of not knowing what to write, worrying about the judgments of others, or lack of time. All of these are barriers that we put on ourselves when introducing new habits into our routine.
So how do you write a journal anyway?
If you are motivated, you will surely be able to overcome the barriers that prevent you from starting one by following the steps below:
1. Choose the place to keep your thoughts
As with any project, you will require a minimum preparation to get started. So the first step is to choose the place where your ideas, thoughts, or concerns will take shape. You can decide to write in a physical paper journal or on your computer. In the first case, you can buy it online and choose from many notebooks and diaries. If you prefer, you can go to a stationery shop where you can choose more carefully between diaries of various colors, sizes and different types of paper. The pen is also essential; choose one that allows you to write comfortably.
If you opt for digital journaling, you can use a text program that allows you to save your files locally on your disk or try one of the online personal journaling applications. There are many free and paid ones, and finding them is even easier than to google “write my dissertation for me” in the end of study year. Some people also open their diaries to the world and use blogs to write their personal reflections. Still, it is not the most common choice, as most of us prefer to keep our most personal and intimate thoughts in secret places where no one can read them.
What is the best option? According to experts in therapeutic writing, the ideal choice is to write a journal on paper because writing by hand gives us the time to reflect on the words we write and is a therapy that facilitates connection with oneself. But it doesn’t have to be a rule and if the digital form works better for you, go ahead!
2. Find a space to write freely
The place where you write is also vital. Ideally, you should find a space in your home where you can be alone, even if it’s only for a few minutes a day. But it can also be somewhere outdoors or in a library, if you prefer so. The most important thing is that you feel comfortable and that it gives you a good feeling.
Here it is also essential that you choose a time in your day when you know you can dedicate the necessary 20 to 30 minutes to write your journal. It can be early in the day, in the evening before going to bed, or whenever you feel more inspired. The most important thing is that in that time you can be relaxed and write without rushing. Now you have everything you need to get started, but wait a minute, what are you going to write?
What to write in a journal?
There is no one-size-fits-all formula, nor is the idea to conform or follow standards. Think about what we said at the beginning of this post: writing a journal is an exercise that allows you to let off steam, get to know yourself, and overcome blocks. So ideally, you should write what you feel. Even if you have the motivation and good intentions, facing the first blank page of your journal can be difficult and a bit of a setback. Here we have put together some tips to inspire you and help you gain confidence with this beneficial habit.
- Write down any problems, challenges, annoyances, uncertainties, or desires on your mind.
- Listen to your emotions and take note of your feelings about the problem you have written down.
- Write down what you have done (actions and thoughts) with it.
- Think and write down how you can solve it.
This is just one strategy that might be useful initially, but don’t stick with this structure and experiment and let your ideas and thoughts flow. To break the ice and enjoy your new habit, you may also find it helpful to think that:
- You write for yourself. Other people’s opinions don’t matter.
- Being honest is the best way to start to get to know yourself.
- You should write down your wishes without fear.
- This is your chance to write uncensored, freely.
Now you have everything you need to start writing your personal journal, and we hope you enjoy this new routine and take advantage of all the benefits it can offer you! Let your thoughts flow through your writing, and remember: the only censor here is you.