Personal growth can be achieved through numerous tools, journaling is one of them. Growth for humans involves some form of writing, even for academic purposes or signing documents; that is why it’s not news for journaling to be a terrific tool for personal growth.
Journaling has evolved from what most people formerly knew as dairy (i.e., the daily entry of events that happened in one’s life) into a present continuous entry of not just the daily gist of what has happened but also details on what is happening in one’s mind or external environment, and plans.
This article is perfect for you if you still have doubts about the super effect of journaling on the journey to self-improvement (a.k.a personal growth). Let’s take a look at what journaling entails in its entirety and how it can aid personal growth.
What Is Journaling?
Unlike diary keeping, journaling is simply the practice of putting your ideas and emotions into words; writing down your feelings, ideas, insights, etc. so that you can comprehend them better without restrictions or constraints. The content can be in either written (as in paper and biro), typed, or illustrated form.
The common misconception about journaling is that it just entails writing “Dear diary” and then describing your day in detail. When it comes to keeping a journal, there is no “one-size-fits-all” way to go about it. You are good to go so long you write about what’s already in your head or what pops up in your mind while writing.
Types of Journaling
It is easy to sometimes confuse types of journals with the techniques of journaling, but they are two different things. One is talking about what to do with the idea/activity of journaling and its categories while the other is explaining the different ways to explore this activity. The types of journals that exist are as many as every topic and area of interest; hence, this is an inexhaustible list of some of the most popular forms of journaling;
1. Free Writing:
This form of journaling is most suitable for beginner writers or newbies to journaling. It involves timing yourself and making sure that you keep writing non-stop by allowing ideas to flow, without edits onto the paper till the timer rings. And in case the idea of a timer doesn’t sit well with you, you can try setting a page target i.e., aim to write nonstop for a certain number of pages.
2. Bullet/Productivity Journal:
Also known to many as BuJo, this conveniently combines brainstorming, to-do lists, reminders, and scheduling in one. It is used to plan and reflect. It is that short note/mini jotter that can be carried around because the need for it can arise at any time, either to jot down new ideas, set new plans, or track activities. This is a great option if you easily forget things whether as a student, employee, or employer.
3. Gratitude Journal:
A very impactful tool for mental health, contentment, and self-care is keeping a gratitude journal. Research shows that a regular gratitude practice can help improve happiness, well-being, and even physical health. Creating a gratitude journal serves as a reminder on down days and is a powerful way to build a habit of being thankful. By concentrating on the positive, in the long (and even short) run, you grow to be a happier, less anxious person.
4. Reflective/Therapeutic Journaling:
One of the most popular purposes of journaling is the fact that it serves as a personal space to think back on your life and process feelings and experiences. A study by J.W. Pennebaker found that journaling about traumatic experiences or difficult situations specifically has the most significant impact on your mental well-being.
5. Creative Journal:
Writing creatively is exactly what it sounds like it is (you can even call it a scrapbook). There are no restrictions on what can be written in a creative diary; some people use their creative journals to create poetry, while others use them to write short fiction or flash fiction.
6. Morning Pages:
This entails filling a certain number of pages with whatever comes to your mind first thing in the morning. It is almost similar to free writing, except that it must be completed in the morning. It is done exclusively to let all emotions out, clear the mind, and prepare for the activities of the day.
Some other styles and forms of journaling include;
- Art Journal
- Reading Journal
- Daily Journal
- Visual Journal
- Travel Journal
- Unsent Letter
- Meditation Journal
- Food Journal
- Video Journal
Importance of Journaling for Personal Growth
Journaling has proved to be beneficial in so many ways. Some of these are;
By writing down your thoughts, ideas, feelings, etc, your attention is drawn to certain aspects of your being that you didn’t know about before. For instance, you may not have realized that you are the type to shout at people when you are angry, or that you are the type to keep grudges, but while putting in your journal entries, you start to see the patterns and connect the dots. Also, you become more aware of why you act the way you do.
Sometimes before formulating the words to write in your journal, you have to do some introspection which in turn helps to clear your mind regarding certain issues that might be conflicting in your heart about yourself. Journaling affords you the avenue to ask the “why’ questions, to get to the root of particular situations or emotions.
3. Reduces stress:
Do you know how soothing it is to “let it all out”? For times when it’s hard to get someone to talk to immediately or when you feel like no one would understand or relate to the emotions you are feeling, journaling can serve as one of the most effective tools in those seasons, your padi. Concentrating on the positive, in the long (and even short) run, makes you. You get to pour out all your emotions and relax your stress muscles.
4. Deal with emotions properly:
Properly articulating your emotions can sometimes be a hassle, but journaling promises to make the process easier as you sit out of your mind. What are you feeling? What triggered that feeling? These are prompts to help define your emotions more.
5. Facilitates problem-solving and decision-making skills:
Writing out your thoughts on paper helps to clear your head and creates space for logical thinking because now you have all the emotions, ideas, and thoughts where you can see them.
6. Helps you to express yourself better:
The frequency at which you journal would require the use of different words and you know what they say “practice makes perfect” eh? You become more acquainted with talking about what goes on in your head and heart which helps to build the confidence to talk about them.
7. Increased creativity & intuition:
This works most especially when you practice creative journaling or BuJo. You are now more sensitive to thinking up creative stuff, and building innovative initiatives for your self-improvement, and even other aspects of your life.
How to Get Started with Journaling
The beautiful thing about journaling is how inexpensive the practice is. It is easy and flexible so you don’t have to be a “writer” per se or buy expensive journaling tools before you can start. All you need is paper and a biro or your smartphone/computer and you are good to go. For optimal results though, here are a few tips to make journaling effective in your personal growth;
- Schedule a specific time and consistently practice journaling daily.
- Have a comfortable format or environment when you journal.
- Be honest with yourself, nobody is going to beat you.
- Clearly define goals and objectives.
- Make use of structured questions and journal prompts
- Always date journal entries
- Don’t overthink, just write.
- Occasionally review and track progress
Journaling generally helps you to understand not just yourself but also the world around you and how best to relate to it. It helps you reach to the deep of the deep inside of you and creates the chance to explore all the potential in you to thrive.
Journaling, like any good thing, can also be abused. A 2002 study reveals that blogging about stressful experiences only carries the danger of hashing and reliving the same problems and difficulties again and time again.
So, whatever you do—including journaling—must be done in moderation.