The Understated Benefits of Journaling

Writing as a form of release and as a pampering for our well-being

I will admit, I do not journal constantly. But the times that I did, I found that I needed to write what I sought clarity with.

When I was younger and prone to depression, my journals were filled with angst and vain hopelessness. But now, looking at my recent ones, it is filled with hope and practicality as I have a family now. The troubles of my age are different now.

Writing in general allows you to process things in perspective, just like what I’m doing in my blogs. The only difference with writing in journals is the audience. I’m writing so that you can get a piece of my mind. You are writing so that you can find release or purpose.

Another benefit of writing journals is you can track your progress, especially if you are consistent with it. This can help you with attaining some goal or habit.

In the course of writing, I also get to see how an idea comes into reality, and with it more ideas. These ideas fill up my KMS the same way I do when reading blogs or consuming content.

Starting a Journal

This critical set of decisions blocks so many people from starting one.

The first is, where to write. Do I use a notebook? Do I use an app? The answer is you can put it anywhere. Go back to it once you’ve done a few entries.

The second is, what do I write? Is there a prescribed form or template? There is none. You can write whatever you want since the audience is also yourself.

But I get it. Some days writing your thought process is like diarrhea, you release all of it and marvel at the aftermath, before flushing the toilet. There are days when the blank page stares at you and you’re trying to conjure magic out of thin air. During those days I use prompts.

Some Helpful Prompts

These are some prompts I use but feel free to add your own.

  • What are my realizations?
  • What went well / What I am grateful for?
  • What didn’t go so well / What could I have done better?
  • What actionable things can I do next?
  • What is something that I see myself doing soon?
  • What did I feel today?
  • What am I grateful for?

These are good prompts for everyday journaling, but we can go deeper. I found this out while watching one of Ali Abdaal’s videos. Some of these prompts make you think about your life deeply and spurn you into a course of action:

  • The Odyssey Plan
    • What does my life look like 5 years from now if I continue the same path?
    • What does my life look like 5 years from now if I take a completely different path?
    • What does my life look like if I take a different path, but not worrying about money or other’s opinions?
  • The Wheel of Life
    • Split your life into different components that are important to you and rate yourself right from a scale of 1-10 for each component.
    • Then for each rating, ask yourself if you are content with that rating. If not, then ask yourself what you need to do to make that rating go up to the rating that you are content with.
  • Fear Setting Exercise
    • What is the worst thing that will happen if I do this thing I fear doing?
    • What can I do to prevent each of the worst things from happening?
    • If the worst-case scenario happens, what can I do to resolve it?
    • What are the benefits of an attempt or partial success?
    • If I don’t do this thing, what will my life look like in 6 months to 1 year?

I did not include everything that Ali mentioned in his video. Feel free to check it out.

Other Tips When Journaling

Letting loose is recommended when journaling, and you should worry less about structure. There was a time when I tried a haiku while in the middle of writing something, and at the time it just felt right.

I get more insights when I let ideas fly while writing as I get to see different points of view and different inversions of the same idea.

Be kind to yourself, as a journal is also a mirror. Oftentimes in front of the mirror we belittle ourselves — we notice all our little imperfections. It takes courage and determination to say, “I am enough”.

Consider checking up on past entries with acceptance and empathy as you review a version of yourself once at a time.

You don’t need to journal every day but look into journaling every once in a while as a debrief, or a retrospective.

Leave a Comment