I had so much fun doing my presentation on journaling last night (huge thank you to all who showed up!) that I wanted to dedicate the next few posts to some ideas on journaling.
We started the evening talking about all the ways that journaling benefits us. Basically it’s a miracle drug.
“Writing about traumatic events can decrease anxiety and anger, boost grades, reduce absences from work and lessen the emotional impact of job loss. Health benefits include higher T-cell counts, better liver function, and stronger anti-body responses. Even journaling a few minutes a few times can make a difference.” from Option B by Sheryl Sandburg and Adam Grant
All journaling is hugely beneficial, but there were three types of journal that were proven to be helpful to our mental and physical health. You’ll find them below. I’ve been writing one thing from each of these categories in my journal each night. And by “each night” I mean when I remember to do it. Just keeping the bar low for you people.
Types of Journals Proven to Be Beneficial
- Gratitude journal. This can be really good for our mental health, especially if done right before bed. It’s a way to calm down, to find the good.
- Success journal. Write down things you did well that day. Even if they were small. “Made one insightful comment in the meeting.”
– In some ways, psychologically, this is even better than a gratitude journal. Counting our blessings can make us happier, but it doesn’t boost our confidence or effort. Counting our contributions (even the small ones) can. It makes us both feel better about ourselves and makes us work harder (kind of like the opposite of shame). Gratitude is passive—it makes us feel grateful for what we receive. Contributions/Successes are active. They build our confidence by reminding us that we make a difference.
– In an experiment, people wrote for 5-10 minutes about what went really well that day and why. Their stress levels dropped as did their mental and physical health complaints.
- Moments of joy. Try writing three moments of joy every day. Again—it doesn’t matter how small. “Saw a rose in bloom” totally works. This helps us to notice and appreciate the flashes of joy we experience, but sometimes don’t acknowledge.
-Larry Brilliant: “A day of joy is fifteen minutes. A day of pain is fifteen years. The job of life is to make those fifteen minutes into years and those fifteen years into minutes.” I think this quote can mean a lot of different things to a lot of different people. When I read it, I’m reminded that I forget the joyful things more quickly. It’s my job not to do that, to remember the joy when the pain is pressing.