The Forgotten Practice of Journaling- Rachel Elston

When I was younger, I absolutely hated journals. It seemed like every Christmas, birthday, or any other big occasion I would receive a journal from my family, which promptly ended up in a drawer with the others, never to be looked at or written in. I don’t know why I had this disdain for journals. Maybe it was because I resented the fact that my parents were trying to impose them on me, or maybe I just thought the idea of cataloging my thoughts every day was ridiculous. For most of my life I avoided journaling like the plague, until this past summer when I worked at a houseboat camp. There, the director gave us no option but to journal every week during a three hour block of time, and the idea absolutely repulsed me. Ironically, after the first hour of the first week of journaling I completely lost that negative mindset I had for all of those 18 years, and really began to love it. I looked forward to those three hour periods of time all week and came to understand and appreciate the benefits of releasing my random thoughts into a vast book of blank pages. Journaling this summer helped me get through particularly tough days, and there are three big reasons why I think journaling should be incorporated into everyone’s daily routines.

1. Journaling helps you relieve stress and connect with nature.

Nowadays, it feels like everything is moving at such a fast pace and is so technologically driven that there’s never really any time to unwind or do anything that doesn’t involve watching TV, playing on your phone, etc. I never realized how I immediately pick up my laptop or phone whenever I’m bored and I rarely take a break from it. The practice of journaling gave me an excuse to go outside and actually connect with nature, which I never do. Having the opportunity to take time out of the day to write and be outside relieves so much more stress than one would expect. Simply organizing your thoughts and taking time out of your hectic day is such a good way to relieve all the stresses in your life and refocus your mind.

2. Journaling is a good way to rest without actually sleeping.

This might sound a little counterintuitive because journaling is often seen as an activity that is supposed to engage your brain and make you think. But just the act of leisurely writing what comes to your mind or drawing is relaxing in and of itself because it helps organize a discombobulated mind. Without fail, I found that I always came back to reality more focused and awake than I was after taking time to journal. This just proved to me that we don’t have to take naps in order to relax and decompress, which is why more people should utilize the practice of journaling.

3. Journaling helps decision making and reveals unique insight.

Circling back to my first point, taking time out of your day to be with your thoughts helps the process of making decisions and gaining insights on certain subjects. This sounds obvious when I put it in words, but we’re so busy in our daily lives we rarely have time to actually ponder our thoughts. We can’t draw the same conclusions as we can when we stop and consider different perspectives and ideas. Some of my greatest revelations about certain things I was struggling with came to me during that three hour period of writing.

Journaling has so many benefits that we fail to realize, like helping us maintain mental clarity and calming all our hectic thoughts we have throughout our busy days. It’s time to bring back the art of journaling, and embrace this effective way of relieving stress in our lives.

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