Before having to keep Instagram captions short or having to meet the character limit on Twitter, there was the underrated hobby of journaling.
Journaling was an outlet for many, including Michelle Obama, who kept a journal while serving as First Lady from 2009 until 2017. The journal helped her remember her experience in the White House, which later turned into her best-selling book Becoming. A journal was easy to keep, until the Internet and mobile phones took over, and sites like Tumblr and even Facebook, became the outlet through which people expressed their emotions.
However, typing out your emotions isn’t the same as writing them down.
The act of taking notes on a notebook may seem simple, but our brain is doing a lot more than we think. When we write, our brain is coordinating with our motor organs, visual systems, and our creative centres, which allows us to move through ideas as we write new ones down. Also, when we write instead of typing, we are likely to learn faster, and store information for a longer period of time.
In fact, research has shown that journaling is one way of dealing with emotions and a helpful tool in managing mental health. Journaling, which is the simple act of writing down your thoughts or emotions, helps manage stress, depression, and anxiety.
Journaling doesn’t have to be a New Year’s resolution that falls flat in the middle of February. It can be picked up at any time. Journaling also doesn’t have a deadline. You can write wherever; leave some pages half-full and other entries half-empty, if you want to. The point is to jot down your thoughts without fear. After all, journaling shouldn’t add to the already existing stress from work and life.
The act of writing down your feelings, helps you compartmentalize them. By offloading your thoughts onto a journal, you can come back to them when you want to. This can contribute to having a better— and lighter—day.
Here are three ways to commit to journaling:
Write a couple of lines a day
Don’t feel the pressure to tackle big emotions with big paragraphs. Just like exercising at the gym, start small and add on as much as you want at a later time.
Keep your pen and paper close
Keeping your journal with you every day will help keep you monitor your growth. Your journal entry from last month will be different from what you write today. Notice your underlying values. Diverting back to your past journal entries might give you a greater awareness of what your goals truly are.
Do what feels natural
Your growth doesn’t need to have a deadline, and neither do your emotions. Your journal should help you recognize problems, work through your thought process, and problem solve. But each person’s journey is unique, and there isn’t a prescribed cure-all when it comes to journaling. Although it might seem easy, we often forget the power of pen on paper.