With summer in full swing, you may be filled with the desire to do anything but sit at your desk and stare at a screen. Your productivity has dropped, you’re feeling pretty burnt out, and when it hits 5:30pm you realize that the entire work day was spent thinking about an upcoming vacation. How can you restore your drive and begin feeling content with where you are in this very moment? Journaling may not be the answer to all your problems, but it can certainly help.
Journaling gives you the opportunity to design your future, lessening the gap between the person you are and the person you want to become. It can improve your writing skills, reduce your stress, and increase the creative flow in all areas of your life. Here are a few very important ways that daily journaling can benefit you:
Increase your gratitude
I began journaling when I was feeling either frustrated or bored with everything around me. I felt like I was doing damage to my own well-being by focusing on the things that were going wrong, and decided to start paying more attention to the things that were going right. Every Sunday I began writing down all of the good things that happened to me that past week.
According to a study that was published in 2011 in Applied Psychology: Health and Well-Being, taking the time to list what you were grateful for that day before you go to bed allows you to sleep better and longer. Other studies prove that increased gratitude will make you happier, healthier, and boost your self-esteem. Incorporating gratitude into your journaling experience will train you to look for the positive in all situations, and in turn, better prepare you for when things go wrong.
Using the time you spend journaling to plan out your daily to-do lists can help prevent the overwhelming feeling of, “I have so much stuff to do.” Writing down all of the tasks you need to accomplish will help you prioritize, and physically crossing it out will allow it to leave your mind once you complete it, allowing you to focus on the next task at hand. By taking note of everything you have to do you’ll clarify your thought process and keep yourself on track to complete the most important assignments first — leaving busy work that may seem urgent for later.
Reflection and Motivation
Taking the time to sit down and really think about what you want can help to make it a reality. If you use your journal to refine your vision for the future and break down your big-picture goals, they’ll begin to feel more attainable. In an article from Psychology Today, Professor Shahram Heshmat PhD emphasizes the importance of making your goals as specific as possible. He also notes that viewing parts of your ultimate goal as “doable intermediate tasks” allow you to better monitor your progress. As you pursue them, you should write in your journal about what does or does not work.
Write Your Own History
Yes, giving yourself a time and place to plan is a huge reason why many are attracted to journaling, but it can also be used to simply write about your life. No need to write an autobiography, but recording your thoughts and experiences can tell so much about the person you were at the time you were writing it. You can use your journal to draw, sketch, write questions without answers, or recall some of your favorite memories. However you decide to go about it, you’ll find that the most valuable part of journaling is that it will be an authentic reflection of you.