Have you ever thought about keeping a journal? Our Lead Counsellor here at CoWL explains the benefits of journaling.
For more than 30 years I have been keeping a journal. I started around the age of ten capturing my thoughts in one of those little 5-year diaries with a padlock and a key. I wrote then mainly about the events of the day, what was going on at school etc., on reflection however, I don’t think I really captured what was really going on behind the scenes as at the time my home life was a bit messy.
In my teenage years, my relationship with my journal melted away as I became caught up in the world of boyfriends, O levels, starting a new job and getting married. In the background to all this life was still rather messy and to cut a long story short I ended up having a breakdown in my late twenties and had to go for counselling. My therapist encouraged me to journal once more, and I had a remarkable breakthrough where the painful unexpressed thoughts and feelings inside me that I had been holding in for years escaped onto the pages of my journal. It was like a tsunami, and it felt as if I was rewriting my life.
Counselling and the journaling changed my life so much that I trained to become a counsellor and during my training we were educated on the physical, psychological, and emotional benefits of journaling.
Since then, I have continued to journal mostly every day. Some of my many journals are shown in the visual. I attribute these treasures and the words contained within to saving my life, that is how much I believe in the power of journaling.
Here are five reasons why I encourage people to keep a journal:
- In the pages of your journal, you meet a long-lost friend – yourself – who is an exceptionally good counsellor also! They will listen to you without any interruptions or judgement, 24/7 if you wish. You can tell your journal things you may never feel able to tell anyone else; they are a true confidant. In essence it also can help with feelings of loneliness as this newfound friend will never leave you.
- Writing things down on paper clears the mess from a cluttered mind. It can feel as if you are doing a bit of a Spring clean. It helps to clean up dark and difficult thoughts, feelings and emotions and helps you to better understand them. This then can clear up some space to enable you to work out what you need to do next.
- Journaling is not just about writing; it also involves taking the time every now and again to read back over what you have written. This enables you to identify patterns of behaviour that may be limiting your personal growth or affecting your relationships with others. Here you become more self-aware of your actions and inactions.
- Journaling gives you a voice. It helps you to speak your truth. In each page you have a safe space to release negative thoughts, feelings, resentment, anger, and disappointment. Conversely, it is also a creative retreat where you can feel into your dreams and aspirations for the future.
- Finally, journaling is inexpensive and accessible at any time. It has no side effects and there are no waiting lists involved to access it!