The modern world is packed full of gadgets, gizmos and hacks, but there’s one task you shouldn’t try to find a get-around for: writing a journal.
It may seem old fashioned at first, but keeping a journal is one of the best things you can do to access a happier, healthier you. With just a blank journal and a favourite pen, you can organise your day, track your fitness, record your memories, reflect on your personal development, set goals, express gratitude and so much more. Journaling is about capturing and exploring the things that make you yourself, so you can start to truly, deeply #LoveYourLife.
One of the earliest known diaries in existence, written by the Roman Emperor Marcus Aurelius, is addressed To Myself. If you spend all day talking to other people, taking a minute to check in with yourself really can feel almost revolutionary. You’ll probably find that when you reflect with intention you begin to appreciate your own experiences in a new way: getting to know yourself is an active process, and one that’s very worth your time.
A journal is a great way to get organised, but isn’t only for keeping track of your daily tasks. It’s also a creative outlet: a place to dream without restraint, to access your innermost thoughts, and consider what you really want.
Writing a journal is also one of the best ways to practice making time for yourself, starting with just a few minutes a day. If you often feel out of control, writing a journal can be one of the easiest and most positive, habitual changes you can make to get your life back on track, anywhere and anytime.
It can also be used for more specific mental-health focused tasks: to create a safe and private space to track your emotions around key life events, or to practice giving gratitude. In a journal, you can give thanks for all the joy and wonder you have in your life, invigorate your mood by practicing switching negative thoughts with positive affirmations, and help you realign yourself to your personal goals when you veer off track and need a little extra boost.
When we handwrite we force our brains to slow down, take stock, and process information from a different perspective.
Here's the main ways that journaling can help improve your mental and physical health:
Here's our top-tips on making your journal a force for good in your life:
One journal doesn’t have to do everything, but it can! You can either combine your journal into a single record, divide it into categories, or keep specific journals for areas of your life you’d like to work on.
Here are a few of our favourites:
Even if you don’t believe in the wackier side of dream interpretation, keeping track of the images and themes that pop up while you sleep can be a good way to process your daily anxieties. Make it super functional by noting down your sleep timings, so you can track how sleep affects your mood and (hint: it does!).
If you’re any kind of writer (and ‘amateur’ more than counts), a small diary you can carry with you is essential. Use this jot down ideas and observations, make a note of interesting authors or books you fancy investigating further, or record a poem as it comes to you. Even if you write on a computer, using handwriting on occasion can help your brain to work in a different way, and even shift writer’s block.
Multi-tasker with a packed schedule? A bullet journal is a system created by New York based designer Ryder Carroll “to help you track the past, organize the present and plan for the future”. You’ll want a diary with dotted pages, so you can get extra creative.
There’s nothing you can buy that will be a better souvenir of your adventures than your very own journal. Find a diary that is light enough to take anywhere, but roomy enough for doodles, photos and ticket stubs. Remember to take a glue stick or some tape to keep everything in place!
Sometimes the unconscious mind can be best assessed through a drawing. If writing seems tough, consider starting a sketch journal. New studies are showing that art expression helps connect thoughts and emotions, bridging the gap between your explicit (descriptive) and implicit (sensory) memory.