Remember when you would get a brand new diary at the beginning of the year and pen down your thoughts just because you now had a new diary and just wanted to use it? Well, with time, we may have bid farewell to those simpler times and become too busy with our daily lives, inundated with work and technology. But maybe, we should think of revisiting that practice in 2023.
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Multiple research studies have proven that journaling offers a ton of benefits, including reduced stress, clearer focus, lesser negative thoughts and improved sleep. This, in turn, leads to better mental health and a better quality of life. Sheetal Shah, a Bengaluru-based school counsellor, swears by the practice. “I used to journal even as a kid and found it to be an extremely cathartic experience. I would recommend it to people of all age groups,” she says. A journal, she believes, is a great place to turn to when one feels alone with their thoughts. “Some people are also scared that the other person might judge them. But with a journal or diary, you can express yourself comfortably knowing that you won’t be judged,” says Shah.
It is also a great tool for being more reflective, enabling one to process situations and challenges positively.“It also helps to go back and read our old entries. This can help us break away from our current thought pattern and get a fresh perspective,” she believes.
There are many types of journaling, like art, travel, nature, personal or bullet journaling. Each comes with its own set of benefits. Bengaluru-based Shruti Jha, the founder of Green Panther, which creates nature-based workshops for children, regularly organises nature journaling workshops for young ones at the cultural space Bangalore Creative Circus. “Thanks to their hectic schedules, urban kids have little time to appreciate nature. They don’t have much natural habitat around them either. So we teach them to engage in nature journaling so that they spend more time outdoors,” she says. “They doodle, sketch and write without worrying about minor things like spellings and just love it,” she adds.
Today, a range of colourful planners and guided journals are available in the market, which could be of great help to those with starting trouble. “These might have a sentence starter or a line that asks you about your day, week or month and so on. This makes it easy for you to start writing,” suggests Sheetal.
Nikita James, a recruiter, started journaling in 2018 during her MBA days when she would write her thoughts or to-do lists at the back of her college notebooks. Gradually, she got her first planner and enjoyed filling it in. “In 2020, I started writing about the things I am grateful for, which made a huge impact on me. I could channel on these points whenever I was feeling low. Now, no week goes by without me writing in my journal,” she notes.
The best part about journaling is that you can journal on just about anything and everything, as there are no hard-and-fast rules to it! You could even use your smartphone to make regular entries about your day; it is as simple as that. So what are you waiting for? Just start writing.
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Here are some tips to start journaling
1. There are various types of journaling. Choose the one that works for you.
2. Write about anything that comes to your mind. Don’t worry about minor things like spelling or your handwriting. Remember, no one is going to read it and judge you.
3. Go for a structured journal or a planner if you find the process of writing too overwhelming. With inspirational quotes, questions and points to guide you, these journals can give you simple cues to work with.
4. Set a time for it, be it early morning or the end of the day and try to stick to the same time. If that doesn’t work, don’t worry! Write whenever time permits. Even if it’s just one line a day, it’s beneficial in the long run.
5. If writing feels like too much work, use gadgets like smartphones and tabs to record your thoughts. There are many useful journaling apps that you could turn to as well.