Journaling has become increasingly popular over recent years.
People are increasingly returning to pen and paper when they want to get their thoughts out or explore their emotions. Whether it is beautifully decorated art journals or a more structured bullet journal there is something enchanting and magical about sitting with a piece of paper and writing or drawing.
There has been lots of research over recent years about the difference between writing and learning from a screen as opposed to using a book. Every single study that I have read has come down in favour of paper.
Many schools are returning to text books as they have noticed that children interact differently with a paper book as opposed to a white board or iPad. If you are interested in this subject why not read more from Business Insider.
What has all this got to do with wellbeing though?
Well, the benefits of writing are much greater than just enabling more effective learning and remembering. The benefits to your mental wellbeing are dramatic too.
So often when I talk about stress and anxiety it comes back to having too many thoughts in your head, too much to do/remember or a story you are telling yourself. When you write without boundaries you can allow all that out onto the page and it helps your brain to rest.
We know that if we have something to remember, a to do list or shopping list, that writing it down helps out brain to recall that information. Writing it down with a pen and paper has been proven to help us remember better than typing it on a device. We also know that if you are waking in the night going over and over all the things you need to do the next day, writing it down can help get it out of your thoughts and back to sleep more quickly.
I know most people don’t send letters any more, I’m as guilty as anyone of sending a quick email rather than a letter. When I was younger though I wrote a lot of letters. I had pen friends all over the country and if I was ever away from friends or family for any length of time I would always write. I found it very therapeutic. Often as I was writing I would discover something I hadn’t realised I needed to share with them, or sometimes just tell someone
Imagine the power of just allowing yourself to write.
Just write freely, with no agenda, not to anyone or for anyone, except you. Imagine the things you could discover, confront and deal with, with very little effort. You don’t have to share what you write with anyone. Your mind thinks it has shared it with someone though when you have written it, it is as powerful as talking to a friend or counsellor. As you write your brain untangles all the thoughts, it processes things, it vents about things that have upset or annoyed you. It offloads.
Whenever we write we allow ourselves time to process what we are writing. We may discover that we feel differently about a subject or situation than we at first thought. We often feel more calm as a result of getting it out.
I know what you are thinking.
“I spend my life writing; lesson plans, assessments, reports… I don’t need anything else to write!”
This is different. This is enjoyable. This is life changing.
You see there is no pressure to do this. You can use all your favourite pens, even if they aren’t the colour school policy allows.
You can spend 5 minutes or 5 hours. You can doodle, colour, scribble or write beautifully crafted pages of outpourings. Whatever you need to do.
As you write, don’t set any limitations on what you can write about just see what comes out. You might need a topic to help you get started or to imagine you are writing to someone. I have been writing to my Grandma ever since she passed. It helps me to focus and is helping me with my grieving process because I feel like she is still an important part of my life. I could always tell my Grandma anything so there are no limits on what I can write when I write to her and I just allow my train of thought to travel on whatever track it likes, to choose its own destination. If you prefer to draw or paint you can do that too. But don’t worry about what the finished result is, it isn’t about that, it is about expressing yourself freely.
Over the years I have had a few surprises as I have written, a few “Aha!” moments. But most importantly I am always filled with a sense of peace afterwards. I know I have made a significant difference to my wellbeing.
If you need a reason to go buy a new notebook or sketch pad I have just given you a brilliant one! So grab a notebook and get started.
Whether you write or draw your emotions out give journaling a go today.