What Use Is Journaling?

Self Care Isn't Selfish Sign

Relief, Release, and Self-Reliance through Journaling

Why does putting your pen to paper matter? What’s recording your thoughts good for? Let’s talk about what journaling can do for you.

Journaling is soothing to me in 3 ways: first, getting the words out is a relief.

Getting the Words Out

I’m an introverted person who used to stutter when I felt pressured to express myself clearly, of course, creating even more pressure. Growing up disconnected from my feelings, I still struggle to explain what’s going on for me when I have… *whispers* an Intense Emotion. Intense Emotions were scary and Not Allowed in my parents’ household. I was expected to bear the burden of someone else’s tirades without ever appearing frustrated, angry, or just done myself.

Journaling was one of my first intentional self care practices. As a teenager, I realized I had one extra notebook among my school supplies. I was hesitant to put pen to paper as anything in my home was subject to search and worse, harsh, biting criticism. I finally decided on a secure hiding spot and began pouring what few emotions I could connect to into that purple college-ruled notebook. Pages and pages of writing flowed. I had found my voice in writing.

To this day, it’s still easier for me to write than speak when I have an emotional connection to the topic, or especially when I feel an Intense Emotion. Once I’ve transferred an anxious or troubling thought to paper, it no longer needs to circle in my mind–it’s been acknowledged. I can move on.

TL;DR committing my thoughts and feelings to the page (electronic or otherwise) eases my anxiety.

Letting Go

Second, journaling soothes me by allowing me to release painful memories and harsh interactions. My overactive Virgo brain will replay hurtful scenes, relentlessly prodding and poking me with how I could have responded differently, when I should have realized things were going wrong, ways I could have avoided the situation, what I should have done to protect myself, and why I’m such a failure. Again, committing the damaging interactions to a journal allows me to let go of painful thought patterns and negative self-talk.

Validating My Emotions

Journaling quickly became a valuable wellness practice for me. The third way journaling soothes me is by allowing me to validate my own emotions and ideas. After decades of invalidation and having my ideas dismissed as worthless, writing helps clarify what I need, want, and feel. There’s no judgment in expressing myself this way. As I journal, I can safely evaluate my thoughts and whether I’m responding appropriately to the situation at hand. I’m able to see my experiences through the eyes of a kind friend. Then I’m able to give myself the encouragement I’d give a loved one and choose next steps that are healthy and in my best interests. Self-reliance through journaling is freeing.

When you journal, you’re allowed to explore any topic, including dreams and nightmares, hopes and fears, harsh and gentle interactions, even shadow work.

My Favorite Tools for Journaling

  • ornate hardcover lined journals, making each time I sit to write feel like a special occasion
  • Desire Map Planner with daily, weekly, AND monthly space built in for convenient journaling
  • Evernote (which I’ve been using since 2012, referral link)

I’m currently using 52 Lists for Calm and 52 Lists for Happiness by Moorea Seal, the inspiration for my latest lists and journaling posts like this one.

What’s Next

Tomorrow afternoon we’ll explore a few journaling prompts for calm. Get ready for Wine-Down Wednesday, friends!

Let me know in the comments below–do you journal? If so, what are your favorite tools?

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