There are many reasons to Journal but one of the best is the therapeutic aspect of the activity. People have been journaling or keeping diaries for a long time. Although people have been journaling for centuries, it was not till the 1960s that the therapeutic aspects of journaling were uncovered. Since then, this aspect of journaling has been explored more carefully and certainly we now know that journaling does provide these beneficial aspects to the activity. Dr. Ira Progoff, a psychologist in New York City, uncovered and explored this aspect of journaling that not only holds to reason but adds a lot of credence to this very simple activity.
Other Benefits that Bestow Journaling
While the therapeutic aspects of journaling were brought to the surface, it has long been known that journaling is beneficial for a variety of reasons. Journaling can provide context to our lives. It can help us see a path we might have been following and where we have been let down and where there have been positive consequences. Setting out challenges in a journal and then watching how we meet those goals is a positive activity. Even if we don’t meet the goals, the reasons are useful in understanding who we are and why.
When we set out to do something, often it is developing a perspective that helps us determine whether it will be beneficial. As we journal, we set in writing aspects of our thoughts that can eventually lead to a decision. We might see something that we couldn’t see if we hadn’t written about it.
From this, we can then develop an idea or plan around that which seems to fascinate us. This may never have occurred had we not written about it in the first place. The writing adds substance and we can either accept that there is something to it or there isn’t. Even when we decide there is is nothing there, there is likely a temptation to confirm this. Journaling provides an ability to provide perspective to something which is important in understanding the why’s and wherefores of what we do.
When we’re Uncertain as to What it is We Want
This ability to look across time allows us to elucidate and understand why things happened or our thoughts at a particular point in time. In essence, it is a way to measure the value of a thought we had and how we stuck to it or didn’t and then why.
Should there appear to be something to an idea or what have you, we can then journal about that. If there is something there, we can elucidate what it is. It might be just a fantasy that can go no where or go somewhere. Often it is difficult to figure out what we should do. This is just another method of doing that.
It’s better to explore something that might produce a gain than to have missed it or never explored it in any fashion what so ever.
Journaling can help give us a great sense of context. Frequently, we might have the feeling time is passing so fast and we loose ourselves in the jet storm. The context journaling can provide can sort of fill in the blanks. If there is a feeling that it is Friday and it was Monday just the other day, we might wonder what happened in between. Journaling can put this in perspective. Life does not have to get lost. Rather, seeing what we’ve done provides a great sense of context and a feeling that oh yeah; that’s what happened and why I am where I’m at today.
Feelings; Anxiety and Depression
Sometimes we might have intense feelings that we don’t understand. To start journaling at any point in life is better than to have never journaled at all. However, the longer we journal for the better we will be at grasping what we are looking to understand.
The mere act of journaling is enough to assist with understanding our feelings. By getting them out, we often simply feel better. However, by being able to glance at the way one feels over say the last two weeks it provides a better barometer and we might not have been feeling as out of sorts as we thought we did or it might, in context, not be as severe as we were thinking. Again, the act of providing context helps to normalize the feelings making us feel more in control and thus not as fragile.
Tools and Methods
Journaling can be done in different ways. It tends to be done as a daily activity although many like to journalize at various points during their day relative to activities.
Some feel journaling is best done with paper and pen and based on a yearly book. However, there are excellent electronic tools that can assist with the process. I feel that a journal done by day but with time components during the day under the days date is the best way to do this. If, as an example, you work, much of your day will be wrapped around your work but if you don’t the structure could be quite different. The flow would be different and important.
As with anything in life there are different tools to accomplish the same thing. You need to determine what will work best for you.
You of course need to know whether your tool will need to be cross platform or not (run in the Apple and Android environment). Two extremely good cross platform tools are Day One and Journey. They are both cross platform and day oriented and within the day they can have as many parts as you want for different points during that day.
A newer diary which runs on Mac Ecosystem only but is highly day and time/day oriented is Diarly. It runs on OSX and IOS making it very portable but with the ability to diarize where and when you’d like. It’s moment by moment orientation makes it very easy to follow. Context in such a system can be very granular.
Another system which is like Diarly but quite different at the same time is Memento. The system has been around for a long time however it remains and iPhone only product. They have not been able to come up with a good sync solution thus it doesn’t run anywhere else. That makes it tough to write a lot as at times it is much easier to write on a Mac or iPad. It is likely you will have your iPhone with you but this one platform solution, if it wasn’t so good, wouldn’t even be brought up.
Just Do It
Journaling is an excellent activity for a variety of reasons. However, if you decide to Journal just do it. It is very much a habitual activity. You’ll start Journaling then automatically, out of habit, you will just journal. However, from the very beginning you will reap the benefits of the activity. In the words of a Nike spokesman “Just Do It!”.