Before my days as a professional writer and editor, I always kept a journal. When I was younger, I used my journal to make sure I didn’t forget specific details of an event. I even had a whole diary dedicated to my experiences as a groupie with the Dave Matthews Band. (Yes, that happened.)
However, for the past several years I’ve found journaling to be one of the most therapeutic ways to help calm my anxiety. Whether I’m on the subway frantically writing my thoughts down in Notes on my iPhone, or taking a moment of self-care to sit and free write in my notebook at the end of the day, putting my thoughts on paper helps me breathe.
In addition to sharing my own reasons for journaling, I reached out to my mentor, New Jersey based yoga teacher and positive psychology expert, Kate Lombardo, who offered her perspective on the top three benefits of journaling.
It turns out that simply taking a moment away from the stresses of life can work wonders. Since journaling requires complete attention, it offers a true moment to pause and practice mindfulness. “Taking even five to ten minutes of time for yourself can completely reset your energy and nervous system,” Lombardo explains.
We move throughout our lives constantly having to filter our thoughts and emotions to fit the situations we’re in. Lombardo gives this example: with regard to our careers, many of us have a professional “persona” we take on that often requires us to hide some of our true thoughts and experiences. When we take time to journal, it allows us to remove the need to play a “role” and instead be our true self. It creates space to honestly express how we think and feel in that given moment.
Try this activity called “Best Possible Self” from Dr. Laura King:
Think about your life in the future and imagine that everything has gone as well as it possibly could. You've succeeded at accomplishing all of your goals and all of your life's dreams have been realized. Now, spend 20 minutes free writing about what your life looks like.
When I journal, I tend to free-write my anxieties and it helps make my mind stop spinning and allows me to see a bit clearer through what’s real and what I stir up through my imagination. I also think the opportunity to imagine is extremely powerful. I tend to practice this through vision boards and believe in the power of manifestation, so I plan to practice the “Best Possible Self” exercise occasionally as well. Whether you take time at the end of your day to put your thoughts on paper, or journal throughout the day, the act will eventually become second nature.