Journaling… to “fill your paper with the breathings of your heart”. – William Wordsworth

Journaling is ultimately a conversation with yourself, “it is like whispering to oneself and listening at the same time” said Mina Murray. Dialoguing with ourselves through journaling is one powerful way to tackle personal issues, mental health, or just life- and here are four reasons why.

1. Journaling Identifies Your Priorities

Journaling is a way to document your subconscious thought patterns and musings. Journaling creates a lens through which to look back at your priorities. When you flip through pages full of your words, you will inevitably find common themes, or even words, in your writing. Thomas Merton highlighted that “Keeping a journal has taught me that there is not so much new in your life as you sometimes think. When you re-read your journal you find out that your latest discovery is something you already found out five years ago. Still, it is true that one penetrates deeper and deeper into the same ideas and the same experiences.” Commonalities between the pages identifies where we spend our emotional and mental energy and may reveal areas of growth or issues that still need to be addressed.

2. Journaling Provides a Sense of Release

Journaling is the ultimate safe space. It’s a haven where you can share what you want, when you want, without judgement, fear, or shame. Journaling can provide a deep sense of release. It is a way to actualize and process uncomfortable thoughts, deep emotion, and daily events. Anne Lister noted that through journaling, she can “throw the burden on my book and feel relieved”. Journaling can also provide a way to reflect upon those uncomfortable, or painful aspects of our lives, and may even allow you to see meaning or purpose behind those events. Michael Hyatt noted that “what happens to us is not as important as the meaning we assign to it. Journaling helps sort this out.”

3. Journaling Strengthens Your Relationship

As relational beings, we are in constant connection to others, which is a reality that I believe frequently bleeds onto journal pages. It is no wonder why the stereotype surrounding journaling involves teenagers pining over relationships! However, I truly believe journaling can strengthen relationships. Julia Cameron noted how “writing is medicine. It is an appropriate antidote to injury. It is an appropriate companion for any difficult change.” Keeping a journal may help navigate uncharted waters of a new relationship, offer consolation during times of loss, or provide insight into our interactions with co-workers. Using a journal as a tool of self-growth and relational development is powerful. It can identify areas that we need to work on, and even highlight how our thoughts and actions can impact others. Journaling provides clarity in our life and healthy way to gain insight into our relationships.

4. Journaling Deepens Your Faith Life

Journaling can also connect us with God. Writing to God is one way to access our inner selves and ponder how God is quietly at work within us. Thomas Merton noted that “our real journey in life is interior: it is a matter of growth, deepening, and of an ever greater surrender to the creative action of love and grace in our hearts.” Journaling is one way to start our inner journey and become the person God has created us to be. As we write, we dialogue with God on the page in front of us and He quietly listens- always patient, always there. And, as we re-read our words, we may understand or see the movement of grace in our lives more clearly.

Journaling is a powerful form of communication! Journaling may help us identify priorities, offer release from stressors, strengthen relationships, and deepen our faith life. It is one way for us to carve out time for ourselves, to remain grounded in an ever-busy, changing, and often overwhelming world: “Never forget that writing is as close as we get to keeping a hold on the thousand and one things—childhood, certainties, cities, doubts, dreams, instants, phrases, parents, loves—that go on slipping like sand through our fingers.”  – Salman Rushdie.

Here’s to you! And remember, wellness first.