New Year’s Resolutions: Journaling


There’s an image out there on the internet that really encapsulates why journaling is so good: on the left of the image is a bundle of different coloured threads all knotted and tangled up together and, on the right, the threads have been separated out into single colours and labelled. Journaling does just that. It helps us untangle the knotty, messy thoughts that jumble about in our heads, and helps get them out. It might not immediately sort them into lines of thought, but it’s where the magic of untangling can start to happen.

Journaling is the act of writing down how you are feeling at that very moment. It is said to be good for your mental health, help you reduce stress and develop your sense of self-awareness and understanding.

I’ve found that if I am experiencing a particularly strong emotion (if I’m upset or angry, for example, or feeling defeated or ashamed), or if I have a buzzy thought trapped in my head, writing it down does help give me a sense of release. The thought or the emotion starts to work its way out of my head and on to the page; sometimes it goes quickly and sometimes it takes a little longer, but it does always help to write it down.

Some argue that by seeing your problems, worries or concerns on paper, the brain can start to look at them analytically, removing some of the emotion to help form a response:

Instead of simply letting negative thoughts run rampant in your mind, journaling for anxiety allows you to engage with your thoughts and determine whether they are true or false.

It was also found that people who journal develop a “coherent narrative” about themselves which, in turn, encourages them to take better care of themselves, this could include healthier eating or taking up regular exercise. As a result, they also started to see physical benefits such as decreased blood pressure and an improved immune system.

Journaling also promotes happiness and gratitude. Some people keep gratitude journals, writing down things that have happened that day or connections with people who have made them feel grateful. I think this is such a wonderful idea to do before bed, closing your day with a moment of love and gratitude.

How to journal:

  • Grab a notebook (any notebook, don’t worry about what it looks like), and start writing
  • If you don’t know where to begin, start with the question: ‘how am I feeling right now?’ and write what comes up for you
  • You can write in full paragraphs, bullet points, doodles, spider diagrams, anything: there are no rules
  • Try not to self-edit: write what comes and acknowledge those feelings for what they are without any judgement
  • Occasionally, take time to look back on what you have written and start to notice if there are any patterns: does a particular thing in your life elicit a certain response every time you do or see it
  • Find the time of day that works for you – do you want to start your day off with a quick journal session, or is it better to do it last thing at night? Would it benefit you to come back to it multiple times during the day? Find what fits in with your life with no pressure and minimal effort
  • Keep doing it to see the benefits

Will you be starting journaling this year? Let me know in the comments!

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