Journaling is the act of writing in a notebook. It can take on different types of writing, from psychotherapy writing in which you may write about your deepest feelings of grief and hurt to ultimately promote healing, to a daily recording of events taking place in your life, or to something in between.
As a journaler for many years, I have used the act of writing to get myself through a bad marriage, divorce, grief, depression, a thankless job, sudden life changes, sickness, goal setting, and to record happy moments. I’ve written in French notebooks, dollar store notebooks, moleskin notebooks, and leather bound notebooks. I don’t think there’s anything more healing for me than the act of putting pen to paper and placing my thoughts and feelings into words.
Journaling has long been recommended by counsellors and therapists as a tool to use during depression and getting through difficult life circumstances. Seeing thoughts on paper can bring new light and transparency to problems. It can be freeing and life changing.
In a 2006 article from psychcentral.com, There is increasing evidence to support the notion that journaling has a positive impact on physical well-being. University of Texas at Austin psychologist and researcher James Pennebaker contends that regular journaling strengthens immune cells, called T-lymphocytes. Other research indicates that journaling decreases the symptoms of asthma and rheumatoid arthritis. Pennebaker believes that writing about stressful events helps you come to terms with them, thus reducing the impact of these stressors on your physical health.
There is proven healing in writing. Often, I’ve not even known my true feelings about a situation until I begin writing about it. One thought leads to another and before I know it, I see on paper something I didn’t even realize I felt. Writing can get to the truth inside you.
Besides being healing, it’s also just plain enjoyable. I love a pretty journal with bright colors that make me want to write in it. It seems to beckon for my attention every day. I also love the plain black pocket size moleskin notebook to carry in my bag. I’ve got dozens of those things filled with my thoughts from years past. Sometimes it’s interesting to glance through them to see where I’ve been and how far I’ve come emotionally. Sometimes, it can also be painful, like remembering the death of a loved one.
Finding just the right ink pen for my journaling has also been important to the process for me. I’ve experimented with many, from cheap to luxury. My favorite is a modest PaperMate. It writes well, the ink goes smoothly on the page, and it feels good in my hand.
For a writer, journaling daily can be significant in cultivating discipline. Knowing I need to write a few sentences each and every day keeps me motivated, and it keeps me writing. All the thoughts that go into those journals are mine and no one else sees them, but they are invaluable to me. They are a private part of me I do not share. My heart and soul are laid right out there, but they are mine alone.
The start up cost of journaling is affordable for most everyone. All you need is paper and pen and a desire to put them together. The rewards are tremendous, and the value is priceless.