In our modern lives, we've become so reliant on smartphones and social media that it seems not an hour passes without looking at our phones and scrolling through Facebook or Twitter.
With new studies showing that social media can negatively impact our mental health, how can we improve our well-being through the simple art journal writing?
8 benefits of journaling
There are several ways keeping a journal can have a positive impact on our lives. We've summarised a few journaling tips below to help you on your way.
1. Reduce your stress
As new studies highlight the danger of 'Facebook envy', the simple act of writing is often identified as an effective stress management tool by respected institutions. Recording your thoughts in a journal is a great way to get rid of negative thoughts or pent-up frustration.
Keeping a personal journal allows you to take the issues of your life - big and small - and put them onto paper. Jotting a few thoughts down regarding stressful events can relieve the pressure on your mind and improve your mental health.
2. Clarify your thoughts
Even if you're not stressed, keeping a journal is an effective method for clarifying your thoughts on any topic or subject matter.
Whether it's a spiritual or scientific question, your journal can be a record of how your thinking changed or developed over time. Use your journal to keep track of your thoughts or record your findings, and then reflect on your journey of discovery.
3. Discover the world around you
Keeping a mindfulness journal is growing in popularity. It is the writing equivalent of a yoga mat or meditation session, by taking a moment to stop and pay attention to the world around you.
Taking a long walk and thinking about everything you encounter - sights, sounds and tastes - and then writing the important information in your journal is a great way to reconnect with yourself and the world around you.
4. Solve problems
Another of the benefits of journaling is as a problem-solving tool. Some problems are so large that our brain alone is incapable of solving them. Our conscious minds can only focus on a small aspect of a big problem. By writing a problem down in your journal, you avoid the circular thinking which often occurs when you try to solve it in your head.
It is easier to think about solutions (for example, by writing a step-by-step guide to resolve the problem) if they're on a piece of paper in front of you, as opposed to stuck in your mind. Even better, you can make notes to confirm if your solution worked, so you can refer back to it in the future.
5. Improve creativity
If you're a creative in any field, journaling can be a useful way to organise your ideas. As an artist, you could sketch ideas for your next project; if you're an author, you could use it to practice your expressive writing or keep a series of notes for a forthcoming novel.
It can even work for larger projects - film director Andrew Niccol remarked that, when he developed the script for his 1997 film Gattaca, he filled multiple notebooks with drawings and revised them as the project developed. Niccol felt the best way to scope out his ideas was to use a visual medium.
6. Boost memory
Not only does keeping a journal enhance your decision-making - writing down your thoughts, feelings and experiences also improves your ability to recall the information at a later date.
A series of experiments conducted at Lancaster University proved that writing down what you experience substantially improves your ability to remember it in the future.
7. Establish self-discipline
One benefit of regular journaling is it creates a sense of self-discipline. By making time to reflect on our thoughts on a consistent basis, we create good habits that become second nature. Self-discipline is a necessary skill that can be transferred from journaling sessions to other parts of our lives.
It doesn't matter if you decide to write in your journal every day, or take a few minutes of your time on Sunday evenings - the important thing is establishing your own routine.
8. Achieve goals
We understand the importance of setting meaningful targets in our lives. By recording our goals in a journal, we give ourselves the best opportunity to achieve them. We can then review, refine and reflect on what we're trying to achieve in our lives.
As you use your journal more frequently, not only can you set new targets, but you can also read back over previous goals and see how much you've achieved.
Quick journaling tips
Your journal will be uniquely personal to you, so there is no 'one size fits all' guide for journaling tips. However, there are a few things to bear in mind - all of which will make your journaling experience more valuable:
- Ensure you date your entries. This will help when reflecting in the future.
- Be honest with your entries. This is your journal, after all!
- Be as specific as you can. Vivid memories will be easier to recall.
- Make time in your daily/weekly schedule. Build a routine and self-discipline.
Reconnecting yourself with a journal
As this article shows, there are a number of benefits of keeping a journal. If you've been inspired to start your own, we have several elegant journals to set you on your way.
Whether you're looking to reduce the stress in your life, seeking to boost your memory, or even looking for creative inspiration, journaling is a great way to reconnect with yourself.