For as long as I can remember, I have always journaled. When I was a pre-teen, I had one of those journals that came with a little lock. I use to write about my gripes with my parents and hide the journal under the bed. Of course, my little brother quickly figured out the hiding spot and used a bobby pin to trespass on my inner thoughts.
Journaling is perhaps the only activity that I have kept up with consistently in my life. When I was young, it was a way to get all those extreme teenage emotions out. Now it is a cornerstone activity for living a more self-aware and mindful life.
What I didn't know then, was that with the use of journaling I was participating in the form of therapy. It was finding an outlet for emotions that I didn't understand or have the right tools to deal with at that time. As an adult, I have come to realize that journaling can be a powerful method in helping transform habits and behaviors.
Phycology Today highlights the many benefits of journaling, including how journaling can "make you step back and evaluate your thoughts, emotions, and behavior, explores solutions, [and] brings your emotions and motivations into alignment with your deepest values." Often we go through our day repeating the same patterns, habits, and routines. With the use of journaling, we are forced to pause and take a more in-depth look at why we are doing things a certain way. It makes us pay attention to behavior and habits that might otherwise go unnoticed. This is how we can determine if specific actions and practices need to be evolved or changed for us to achieve the goal that we have set for ourselves.
Here are three ways that I journal every day to recognize and influence my subconscious behaviors.
Daily wins: taking the time to write down my three wins for the day, no matter how big or small they are, helps me boost my self-confidence. It helps me remember that the small achievements that often go overlooked ultimately add up to big wins.
Reflecting: I have a terrible memory, so taking 5 to 10 minutes each night to write down a summary of the day is a great way to end the day by letting everything out. Brain dumping into a journal helps me get fascinating insights into the particulars of the day. It's also an excellent way to relax and "shut-off" my brain so I can have a better sleep.
Daily log: This is a simple scale of 1 to 5, or whatever rating system you prefer, where I log how I felt emotionally, mentally, and physically. This is an excellent way to get insights on any reoccurring patterns and understand how the events of my day made me feel.
The most significant benefit of journaling for me has been the ability to be a lot more present in my day, instead of just blowing past to move to the next thing on my to-do list. I personally prefer handwriting, probably why I launched a journal brand, but there are some great apps for people who need something more on the go.
Do you journal? What has your experience been?