One habit that will make you a happier, more stable person
Have you ever felt stressed? What about overwhelmed? Life has a way of loading us with one thing after another. Personally, I am all too easily consumed by this juggling act. Deadlines, relationships, figuring myself out, experiencing great and not so great moments — suffice to say, life has me in my feelings.
Sure you can take everything in stride, bottling up each experience and thought, but truth be told, this is a recipe for mental clutter.
Why not get into the habit of laying it all out?
When it comes to emotional and mental stability, I like to think of it as maintaining a balance. When there is input, there must be output. If living our lives is input, then writing is the output you need to maintain a well-balanced state of mind. This habit could very well be the stepping stone to an overall happier and much more stable you.
Here are some things that happen when you journal
1. It becomes your reliable, personal outlet
Before I took up journaling, I used to vomit out all my feelings to friends. My first instinct when I felt overwhelmed was to get someone else involved. This is completely fine and I believe that having support is amazing! However, there are a few pitfalls to doing this. When you become emotionally dependent on other people it might put a strain on them. There is no guarantee that they will be readily available 24/7 to listen to your ramblings when they occur. Thus, we need to learn how to be self-sufficient and deal with things ourselves.
This is why I fell in love with writing. I loved that it was a conversation with someone 100% invested in me- it was a conversation with me, myself, and I. All I needed was a pen and paper. It’s like having unlimited access to a non-judgemental therapist! You can say as much or as little as you need. Nothing needs to be perfect; there are no guidelines. Plus, in times of stress, anger, or pain it is proven that writing releases the intensity of the emotion. Your journal is readily available for you always, you just need to take advantage of it.
2) You declutter your mind, leaving room for genius.
Writing is a fantastic way to relax and observe what is on your mind. We are often overloaded with input, failing to leave room to let ourselves explore within our heads. This stanches our creative flow process. The beauty of writing is the ability to wander and explore. It gives us the opportunity to accidentally bump into thoughts lingering in the back corner of our mind, waiting to be noticed. Letting your subconscious guide your writing is a cool way to produce output and allow for creative breakthroughs or realizations to occur. We often think analytically using our left brain. When we write we engage the right brain which houses our creativity and intuition senses. This helps us take stock and come up with innovative solutions to problems we couldn’t solve before. Make room for your genius and creativity by journaling.
3) You can focus more and remember better.
The Journal of Experimental Psychology’s research shows that writing things down reinforces ideas and thoughts, thus improving our working memory. Much in the way that note-taking helps us remember a concept, writing things down for self-reflection purposes helps us become more in-tuned to ourselves.
Not only that, but writing things down helps us keep a backlog of our personal information. You see, a journal is something that can be looked back on and further reflected upon. Things that we’d usually forget about are immortalized from thought to paper, making it possible for us to recall our past thoughts and feelings. Thanks to this, you become more acutely self-aware and, once you make it a habit to write regularly, you might start discovering specific patterns to your thoughts and emotions!
4) Self-development and reaching your goals get a little easier.
As mentioned, journaling keeps track of our progress over time. It’s a tangible way to review and tweak our daily routines so we can get closer to our goals each day. When we write, we hone our big picture, our life vision. Having our daily routines on paper helps us improve insight and understanding of the smaller steps needed to bring our life vision to fruition. By writing down specific goals, we signal to our brains their importance. This creates a psychological blueprint that makes us more likely to prioritize and achieve them. Little by little you will become more mindful of your day to day and make adjustments to get to where you want to be.
A few tips on how to start journaling
We’re not all naturally inclined to pick up a pen as a coping mechanism, so let me help you get the ball rolling with a few suggestions:
Stream of consciousness journaling: Don’t write with a plan, just write whatever comes to mind. The purpose is to free write and fill up as much of a page as you want.
Gratitude journal: Nothing lengthy, spend five minutes a day jotting down three things you’re thankful for, and why. This will build habits and get you used to writing something daily.
Sketch Journal: Journaling doesn’t need to be verbal, it can also be visual! Feel free to doodle, draw, add stickers, decorations, color… It’s unlimited how creative you can get with writing.
Journal on your phone: with today’s technology, you can even journal from your phone! No excuses. There are many apps out there that allow you to journal from anywhere, and in any form you want. This way, you can combine your journal entries with visual elements, or even sounds!
I am aware that some people need to ease into the practice of writing. If you don’t have time to sit down with a pen and paper, I highly suggest doing it in whatever medium is convenient for you.
And that’s where apps like Cookie Jar come in!
Personally, I don’t always feel inclined to write. As a millennial, I do find it far easier to snap pictures and jot down quick one-liners on my phone. Cookie Jar is a space where I can create quick entries made up of photos, videos, journal text, and songs. I recommend this app because it makes it easy to collect content anytime and anywhere. Also, the visual photos and media that I can attach to an entry makes looking back and reliving each moment more vivid.
However, you choose to start your writing journey, all the best to you. I hope you join me and others in learning how simple yet effective journaling can be for personal growth. Take a little break from life and all that input. Instead, taste what balance feels like by writing and trying out some of our tips.
Happy writing, go get that mental clarity :)