Maintaining a diary/journaling is a simple yet powerful technique of managing one’s emotions and staying connected with yourself.
Keeping a diary was how it was described when I was in my teens. Now they call it journaling.
The bottom line is, call it whatever you like but writing down your innermost thoughts is the best way to clear your head of a lot of emotions, stresses and unwanted thoughts. I was in my early teens when I started keeping a diary of my day’s events. It all began by maintaining a diary as part of my holiday homework. This diary only had a listing of what I did during the day. Post this maintaining a diary became a routine because while I was maintaining a diary for my holiday homework I liked writing my innermost feelings in another notebook, which was just for me. And this became a habit that I continued till I was in my 30s.
This writing helped me collect my thoughts, angst over personal issues, home situation, about my relationship with my parents, my friends, and so much more. I realised it was cathartic for me to put it down on paper and when I reread them it was also introspective. A lot of concerns that I had were resolved when I read my own thoughts about the same. I was able to look at things in better perspective, sift the right from the wrong, and not always think that I was the wronged one. Sometimes, it was the other way around too. I realised I could have handled certain situations better.
More importantly it helped me understand and control my emotions, helped me relax and put things in perspective. Being an only child I was not very good at sharing my feelings, fears, struggles, etc. with anyone, even my good friends because I never wanted anyone to be judgemental or think less of the people I loved. So the diary played my best friend, because it was non-judgemental. I could write my innermost feelings and fears there and it never came back to bite me, which is exactly what I needed.
I also sometimes go back and read my diary. Believe me, sometimes going back to read something that happened years ago is not just a great revelation but also a great leveller. It helps you cope with present situations better.
Expressing your feelings is the best form of communication and if you can’t speak about it to anyone then writing a diary or journaling is the best way to manage your mental health. Journaling reduces stress, manages anxiety, makes you feel lighter in the mind, and helps you cope with depression.
Just like speaking to someone lightens your heart and improves your mood, journaling does too.. Sometimes it also helps you recognise triggers, helps you to control them, helps you to identify the reason for the stress or anxiety, identify negative thoughts and behaviour and once identified, also helps you plan how to resolve the issues.
It helped me. I used to feel calmer after writing. But when work pressures took over I stopped maintaining a diary. When work stresses began to take over I began to miss my friend, the diary. But much as I wished to begin writing a diary I again, I couldn’t, for a long time. Till one day, while travelling, I was worrying about a personal issue and began writing about it on a piece of paper (I didn’t have a notebook or diary with me). I just wrote and wrote and at the end of it felt so much lighter that I began to wonder why I stopped!
Now I don’t write daily but definitely on days that I feel absolutely out of it. So this new year, this is my new beginning, resolving to meet my good old friend each day. Because this one, always has my back.
And it helps me in many ways – putting my thoughts in order, feeling lighter and finding a solution. Go ahead, try it out for yourself!
Some tips to journaling
- Even if you can’t set a time, try to set aside some time daily to write. So write every day, if you can.
- Think of it as your personal time, like some people sit with a book, a coffee or with music. Let journaling be your destress time.
- If you like, you can set a time and place to write that is relaxing for you but sometimes you have this urge to write and you are nowhere near your relaxing place nor the time when you write. Don’t let that stop you. Just find the right place to sit alone and put your thoughts down in writing.
- It will help to always keep a pen and your diary handy because then you can write your thoughts whenever you want. These days, phones, tablets, laptops etc also give you easy access to maintain a diary.
- The point is to express your innermost thoughts. It is your private space so write uninhibitedly.
- If you don’t want to you don’t have to share your diary/journal with anyone. It is your personal property and the decision to share it with someone is entirely your choice.
- You should look forward to your daily date with your diary because remember this date of yours is good for your mind and body.