Journaling, or keeping a diary, is a great way to improve your health, both mentally and physically. In fact, studies show that people who write also experience:
Evidence suggests that handwriting, versus typing on a computer, also improves cognition, focus and memory.
If you’ve never kept a journal, it might be hard to know where to start. Here are a few tips for beginning your journey into journaling.
Schedule time for yourself
It only takes about 15 to 20 minutes a day, four or five days a week, to reap the benefits of journaling. The goal is to write consecutively – or several days in a row.
Consider setting aside a special time and place each day to journal. Some people find it convenient in the morning, but it’s also a great way to end your day. Whatever you decide, put your journal time on your calendar like you would any appointment and stick to it.
You might also want to set a timer to help you keep going.
There is no right or wrong when it comes to journaling. Just jump in.
If you don’t know what to write about at first, start with your day. Write down what you did, who you saw and what you experienced. It might feel mundane at the beginning, but that’s okay. It’ll get easier.
When you’re stumped for something to write, you can also list what you’re grateful for each day. Gratitude also offers health benefits, whether it’s thankful for the perfect parking spot, a co-worker’s help on a project or a healthy family.
Don’t worry about perfect spelling, grammar or sentence structure. Just let your thoughts and fingers connect and go with it.
Recognize that there are no mistakes, so let them go. Scratch a sentence out. Start over. Tear out a sheet. Your journal is for your eyes only.
Become more expressive
After you get into the habit of journaling, you might want to explore specific concerns or problems you’re facing. Journaling can really help. Writing engages the right side of the brain, or where creativity and intuition live. Often solutions come from a creative, right-brain approach.
Write about what you feel. Capture your thoughts on a subject, such as an argument with a friend or a past event. Putting words to your emotions can help you think through things and focus on what matters.
Now that you have the basis for how to start a journal get writing today. You’ll be glad you did.