If someone hasn’t advised you to start journaling in order to practice self-care, then what planet have you been living on? If there’s one self-care tip we’ve all been recommended at some point, it’ll be journaling. That’s because bloggers can create wonderfully colourful journals and take beautifully choreographed photos in order to show them off. But do you really need to put all that time and effort into creating an artistically pleasing journal to write it? Or buy a journal to write in, for that matter?
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I’ve read countless posts, tweets, and other social media messages about how we should all buy or create a journal to write in. But personally, I don’t think you need to go that far to journal. After all, all you’re doing is writing about your thoughts and feelings, and why wait until you get a journal or until you can get to where you’ve stashed your journal to write?
I don’t know about you, but I have thoughts and feelings all the time, not just when I’m conveniently near my journal. I’m definitely not going to remember said thoughts and feelings if I wait all day to note them down in a journal.
Back in the day, when my childhood traumas and other emotionally harsh events would keep me up at night, giving me insomnia (this was when I had little emotional control over my BPD), I’d just write and write to get everything out of my head so I could better process it all and be able to get some sleep. Which was really helpful.
I used to just keep a cheap notepad and pen next to my bed to write about whatever was stopping me from sleeping. I’d also wake up frequently and would write about what was in my mind at the time. Sometimes it would have been my traumas, other times it would be random thoughts, dreams, or fragments of poems my mind created.
It’s been more than a decade since I last did that, and that was all pre-smartphones. Since then, I’ve not really needed to write anything down like that, as I’ve been able to process and think of how to overcome issues in my head instead, largely due to having control over my emotions nowadays.
But since taking up blogging, I now keep notes of stuff that could be useful to turn into a post, similar to journaling (in a way), but on a note app on my phone, rather than handwriting something. Inspiration can pop-up at any time, so using an app on my phone is far more useful.
Writing has always been a love-hate relationship with me, because I can barely read my own handwriting, due to how I tried to cope with my dyslexia (My Life Before My Dyslexia Diagnosis and How Being Diagnosed With Dyslexia Changed My Life). My terrible handwriting is only made worse by my inability to spell, meaning I often have no idea what I’ve written if I’ve written it by hand. Thus, going digital means my grammar and spelling are better, plus it means I can easily read what I’ve written.
Benefits Of Digital Journaling
The following is a list of some of the benefits of digital journaling, some of which might have already popped up during the first part of this post. But it’s handy to have them properly listed out for convenience.
- If you’re using an app on your phone to write your journal, then you’ll always have it with you so you can update it whenever you need to. This is also beneficial if you’re trying to identify triggers for things. For example, when I decided to run some health experiments on my self, having my phone with me to keep track and make notes about my hypos was extremely useful.
- It helps you with your spelling and grammar, which is a huge plus if you have dyslexia (My Life Before My Dyslexia Diagnosis and How Being Diagnosed With Dyslexia Changed My Life) as I do.
- It’s much easier to export a digital journal than it is from a paper and pen format. If you wanted to turn your journaling into a blog post or a book, then that would be a huge time saver.
- You can add pictures and hyperlinks, depending on which app you decided to use.
- It’s far easier to make edits and corrections, and it won’t make a mess of your work when you do so.
- You can sync some apps across multiple platforms, making it easier to write on the go on your phone or on your computer.
Benefits Of Journaling In General For Your Mental Wellbeing
I couldn’t really finish this post without listing some of the positives of journaling as a whole, rather than just making it about my preference for keeping it digital.
- It’s a good way to process unpleasant and painful events.
- It’ll allow you to rid yourself of destructive thoughts.
- Journaling can be used to help you solve problems.
- It will allow you to track your progress or track symptoms and triggers.
- It’ll give you something to look back on.
- It’s a good way to brainstorm ideas.
- You can use it to keep track of things you want to remember, not just good memories, but also stuff like quotes.
- It’s a good way to de-stress and relax.
- It can help you organise your thoughts and think before you act rashly.
- It can help you let go.
Negatives Of Journaling
There can be downsides to journaling, which you may want to consider if you have poor mental health before taking up the activity.
- Although journaling can help you manage your thoughts, working through things, problem-solving, etc., for some, it may cause you to overthink, which can bring with it a new set of problems.
- Writing negative things could cause a negative spiral because you’re dwelling on the negatives in your life too much.
- Much like people who go to places solely to capture the perfect Instagram picture, journaling can also have a similar effect. Instead of experiencing the experience, you may be more concerned with how you’re going to write about it instead.
- Journaling can be difficult because you may have to confront difficult experiences, traumas, and emotions.
There are obviously benefits to journaling, otherwise, it wouldn’t be suggested as a self-care method and I wouldn’t have listed the ones I did in this post. But there are also some negatives, which, weirdly, are pretty similar to some of the positives. These negatives are more likely to be an issue for someone struggling with dark thoughts due to their mental health issues.
Because everyone is different, what will be a positive for journaling for some people, might be a negative for someone else. No one knows you better than you, so weight up the journaling idea, and maybe take it out for a test run before committing to it, that way you can see which side of the line you fall.
That said, it doesn’t matter if you use an app or a physical journal, if writing about events, situations, triggers, your emotions, etc. might help you, do it, and find a way to do it that works best for you.
Remember, you don’t have to buy yourself a special journal to write in in order to take up this self-care activity. You also don’t have to spend hours creating and decorating one either, unless you want to, that is. So if you’re interested in trying journaling for the first time, or just fancy changing your existing journaling habit, then why not try using an app on your phone to journal instead? I highly recommend it.
As always, leave your feedback in the comments section below. Also, feel free to share your experiences on the best way to keep a journal and if you’re old school with a notebook or digital with an app in the comments section below as well. If you want to stay up-to-date with my blog, then sign up for my newsletter below. Alternatively, get push notifications of new articles by clicking the red bell icon in the bottom right corner.
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Unwanted Life readers.