The year of 1992 changed my life because my English teacher asked me to get a second exercise book and start journaling at the beginning of each lesson for 10 minutes. For the past 30 years I have kept a journal. Through the ups and the downs. Especially in difficult moments. Keeping a journal has helped me process my emotions. When someone has died. Breaking up with a girlfriend. Losing a job. Changing jobs. Dealing with major family issues. Mental illness. COVID. The list could go on.
Psychologists suggests many benefits. The University of Rochester’s Encyclopedia suggests journaling for mental health. It states “It is simply by writing down your thoughts and feelings you can understand them more clearly. Journaling is a healthy way to express yourself. Journaling can improve your mood by helping you prioritise problems, fears and concerns. Track symptoms day by day. Provide an opportunities for positive self talk'.
Many saints have kept a journal. Such as Saint Therese de Lisieux from France and Pope John XXIII. Journaling is a spiritual tool we can use to encounter God. It helps us to reflect on our lives. Like Mary who “pondered and kept these things in her heart” (Luke 2:19). We too must stop the busyness for a few moments to allow God’s presence to come more fully into our life.
The University of Rochester’s Encyclopedia suggests how to journal“Try to write every day. Set aside a few minutes every day to write. This will help you to write in your journal regularly.
Make it easy. Keep a pen and paper handy at all times. Then when you want to write down your thoughts, you can. You can also keep a journal on your smartphone.
Write or draw whatever feels right. Your journal doesn't need to follow any certain structure. It's your own private place to discuss and create whatever you want to express your feelings. Let the words and ideas flow freely. Don't worry about spelling mistakes or what other people might think.
Use your journal as you see fit. You don't have to share your journal with anyone. If you do want to share some of your thoughts with trusted friends and loved ones, you could show them parts of your journal.
Keeping a journal helps you create order when your world feels like it’s in chaos. You get to know yourself by revealing your most private fears, thoughts, and feelings. Look at your writing time as personal relaxation time. It's a time when you can de-stress and wind down. Write in a place that's relaxing and soothing, maybe with a cup of tea. Look forward to your journaling time. And know that you're doing something good for your mind and body”.
I would add “and spirit”. Journaling is a spiritual tool which allows us to live more deeply and fully in every moment.