The Power of Journaling to Change Your Life
Updated: Feb 14, 2019
“Journaling? I don’t have time for that!”
Maybe that’s your first thought when someone suggests you add journaling to your already busy life. Maybe you are already a committed journaler and love taking this time of quiet reflection to capture your thoughts while you sit and enjoy your favorite cup of coffee or tea.
James Pennebaker, a psychologist and researcher at the University of Texas at Austin (Hook’em Horns!) says regular journaling strengthens immune cells called T-lymphocytes. He also says there is great benefit to writing about stressful events because the process of journaling reduces the impact of these stressors on your physical health.
Well, OK! Where is my paper and pen?
There are some very real physical and mental benefits to the journaling process. Physically writing puts your left brain into action. That’s the analytical, rational part of your brain. While the left brain is busy writing, your creative, intuitive right brain is free to do its thing. So, in short – journaling helps you access your entire brain – left and right sides – and enjoy the best of both brain worlds!
Writing requires your thinking to slow down which gives you time to contemplate, process challenges or problems, and think through ideas.
Believe me, I appreciate that we live in a fast-paced world where:
you can be contacted by phone or text 24 hours a day.
there is a world of information at your fingertips on the internet.
24/7 news is force-fed to you through notifications and nonstop access via computer, television, smart phones, and radio.
there is a steady stream of binge-able shows on Netflix and Amazon Prime Video.
Information overload can make it nearly impossible to carve out time to be alone with your private, deep thoughts. Most of us are so busy going from one task to the next that we hardly allow ourselves time to slow down.
I urge you to consider the benefits of taking 5-10 minutes a day to jot down your unedited thoughts. You will begin to see more clearly what is occupying your mind and your heart. You will get a better idea of how to deal positively with situations which may have seemed overwhelming or with people with whom you have been experiencing conflict.
Journaling can also be a very proactive way to take charge of your thoughts and make choices about the way you feel about circumstances in your life. By asking yourself the right kinds of questions in the right way, your answers in writing will actually help you change.
If you have never journaled, I encourage you to start! Start small….maybe 5 minutes a day. Make it “an experiment” and set a time limit for yourself. Tell yourself “OK, I’m going to try this for one week, or ten days.” That takes the pressure off and gives you the freedom to enjoy the new experience without feeling some obligation to continue forever. My guess is you will begin to enjoy it and want to continue!
Remember, this journal is for you and you alone. You are not writing for a publication or for anyone else’s reading pleasure! Set yourself up for success by choosing a time of day that you can stick with and make it a habit. It helps to have a comfortable, cozy place, too with all the things you love around you – a cup of good coffee, your favorite writing utensil and some blank pages.
I have found that having a template really helps get the ball rolling. Develop some powerful questions ahead of time so that when you sit down, you simply write your responses to those useful, thought-provoking questions.
I’ve created “Ten Tips to Improve Your Life with Journaling” – a straight forward journaling guide which includes a 7 question template that you can easily reproduce and use to get you started. Because I believe so strongly in the power of journaling, I’m making this resource available by clicking here.