I once read a quote on Pinterest by author, Flannery O’Connor that said “I write because I don’t know what I think until I read what I say.” I agree because looking back at what I have written over the years and even just recently, has helped me to understand myself a little bit better. Ever since I was in elementary school, I’ve had many diaries and journals. I don’t know exactly who or what circumstance motivated me to write, but I’ve always loved journaling and have found it to be very beneficial to me. In this 2 part article, I will name some of the many benefits to journaling. I hope this article will encourage you to begin journaling today or get back into the routine of journaling.
I consider journaling a healthy way to get things off your chest without hurting anyone’s feelings. It can reduce stress, worry, anxiety, and depression. It’s a free expression of your inner most thoughts, feelings, trials, celebrations, conflicts, issues, or whatever you choose. You are sharing it in a safe place where the only person who will see it is you. Of course, you could share it with a safe and trusted person in your life if you’d like to; but I think it’s best to write as if no one will read it so there are no restrictions. I would strongly suggest not using Facebook or any other social media sites as your journaling place. I don’t think it’s unhealthy to use these sites to share occasional opinions and thoughts but not for your main journaling place. Journaling should be a safe place that is separate and away from the world’s criticisms and judgment that comes from social media. Plus, there are just some thoughts that should be kept private out of respect for the viewers or “friends.”
Journaling is a great place to track what’s going on in your life. It also helps if you are able to share it with your therapist (if you have one). It can help your therapist to look into what you have been experiencing, whether it’s symptoms, life circumstances, relationships, emotions, and changes. It can give us a better understanding of where you are coming from, where you are currently and where you would like to go. I try to encourage many of my clients to journal for these reasons and it helps people remember what they want to talk to their therapist about the next time they meet. Journaling pairs wonderfully with counseling. It’s very important if you are in counseling to keep track of any mood or symptom change. This can help us greatly understand you, and it also serves as a continuation of treatment outside of the counseling office.
Journaling is a great place where you can understand you. Journaling sets aside that time to sit and reflect about what’s on your mind. With so much distraction in our world, it seems like such a meaningless task; but what better way to cope with life’s struggles and challenges than by writing down what you are going through, what you hope to accomplish and how you feel at the time before sharing those thoughts out in the world. Journaling gives you the space to form your perspective and sort out some things before talking about it with someone. It’s also really great to look back at what you have written over the years and notice how much has changed and how much hasn’t.
As you reflect on what you have just read in this article, it is my hope that if you’ve never tried journaling before, you would try it today. Don’t forget that journaling and counseling go great together and can provide even more benefits. At Village Counseling Center, we have excellent therapists who will encourage you, guide you and walk with you every step of the way on your path to healing and change.