Have you heard about the importance of journaling lately?
Sure you have. It’s all the rage in every entrepreneur’s morning routine. There are apps and software popping up all over the place to help promote the habit.
The practice of journaling or expressive writing is not something novel, but it is definitely getting some extra promotion in many entrepreneurial communities.
I’ve experimented a bit with journaling and have definitely seen some positive effects, but I am always curious to find out how to optimize any tool if I am going to use it on a consistent basis.
That is why I went directly to the expert and interviewed Dr. James Pennebaker, professor of Psychology, from the University of Texas. Dr. Pennebaker has been studying the practice of writing for therapy since before I was alive.
Here is a breakdown of what I learned from Dr. Pennebaker, as well as 5 compelling reasons you should start journaling.
1) Journal to heal
Journaling has been used in extensive research to help people deal with traumatic events they have experienced in their lifetime. Consistently we see that journaling is a very effective tool for improving emotional states and our perception of the situation that is bothering us.
If you’re thinking to yourself, “I don’t have anything super traumatic to overcome”, understand that a traumatic event can be anything that is causing you sustained stress. A business relationship that has gone bad, a failed venture, anything that caused or is causing you stress.
2) Journal to change your story
Often times we tell ourselves a story in our head that we perceive as much worse than it actually is. Write down what is bothering you and see it for what is. Guaranteed that on paper it will look less daunting than it is when you replay this story over and over in your own head.
Take it a step further and start writing down reasons you’re grateful to have the problem you do have and you’ll really notice a shift. Why be grateful for problems? Without problems we cannot grow, so see this unpleasant story for what is, an opportunity grow and progress forward.
3) Journal to improve your intimate relationship
Dr. Pennebaker did a study on how journaling about issues in your relationship helps improve the relationship. When both members of the relationship got their feelings on paper it led to more stability in the relationship and improved the communication dramatically between the couple.
Do it, don’t do it. Just know that it’s a helpful tool for the times where you feel like you’ve “tried everything.”
4) Journal for creativity
Sometimes when you’re stuck you just need to start writing nonsense until a piece of genius ends up on the page in front of you. Next time you’re in need of some creativity start doing some writing about the subject matter you’re stuck on and before you know it you will stumble upon a new idea.
5) Journal for fun
Sometimes you just need to have fun and express yourself. Writing can be a great way to do so. Write a story or anything that your heart desires. Just have fun being present and enjoying the process.
A huge takeaway from this article should be that journaling is best used as a tool. A tool to help you with any stress or trauma in your life. The research has shown us that this does not necessarily need to be an every day activity, but it is very useful for helping us overcome issues we’re dealing with and get back into a positive state of mind.
So there it is, next time your world feels like it’s crashing down around you or you just need to change your story – sit down and engage in some journaling.
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