What is Journaling?
Journaling is many things to many people! There is no right (nor wrong) way to journal, and no set amount of time needed to classify your experience as “journaling”. The main point of journaling is to give your inner life outer EXPRESSION. When you have a bad day it can help to write back what happened, how you felt, what you said, and what you should have said (if you’re in a mode of self-blame). Journaling can document your entire day, part of your day, the end of your day, insights from your day, sadness, happiness and pretty much ANYTHING else that you can think of. By giving your inner world outer expression the brain if oftentimes able to steer you toward insights, epiphanies, solutions, and in the very least a relief from negative feelings about your day by causing a reduction in your stress levels.
Is a Journal a Diary?
There are many different types of journals: art journals (using sketches/paintings to express your feelings and document your day), photo journals (using pictures and snapshots), scrapbook journals (using trinkets, photos, momentos to document and remember your day), paper journals (writing in a notebook, journal, diary), *online journaling (keeping your journal online, oftentimes password protected), list journals (a journal that simply lists what you did that day), and many more types of journals are available!
*What about Online Journaling?
If you are new to the internet (and journaling for that matter), the concept of having an online journal may seem new to you. One common question I hear is, “Does Online Journaling Provide the Same Benefits Other Journals?”. I believe that the answer to how online journal compares to other types is a matter of personal taste. I have found that Online Journals can oftentimes work best when used in conjunction with a paper journal (and vice versa). The reason why online journals are so helpful is that they provide easy organization of entries, variety (you can change fonts, colors, add digital images etc), and most of all? Privacy!
Privacy in Journaling:
Privacy is crucial for journaling, and therefore online journals are a good choice for people that live with others. Though you still have to take certain things into consideration even in online journals to protect your privacy (creating a unique password, clearing cookies, signing out, making sure journal site is secure etc), a personal still generally can go to sleep at night knowing that there thoughts are stored away from snooping friends and family. With many of the exercises found on this blog, it is CRUCIAL that you keep your homework private. If a person were to find some of your personal answers to exercises (especially, if its one mentioning how they annoy you at times) it could ruin a friendship. My goal isn’t to make you keep secrets from others, but to keep your homework private since you are sorting through your feelings to arrive at how you truly feel. A person could mistake an angry entry as how you feel about them all the time, when in reality it may just have been that you had a bad day. So, keep your homework and thoughts PRIVATE.
What about Paper Journals?
Paper journals can give a person a sense of truly having time to themselves, and thereby journaling on paper often reduces stress more fully than online journaling (in my experience, and many others). There is just something about being snuggled under a blanket, in your favorite chair, or in the part writing on REAL paper with a REAL pen that is relaxing. Though online journals provide great benefits, the same can be said for paper journals as well. In general, I feel that online journals are best for use in your homework, expressing strong emotions, talking about painful things (like your past, binging struggles); whereas, I feel that paper journals are best for expressing positive things about yourself and others. How come? well if someone finds your paper journal they will get a dose of knowing just how much you love them, and a nice insight into how much you are learning to love yourself.
In other words? Online journals are great for homework, negative emotions and other “dirty work” you must undergo as part of finding yourself, whereas paper journals are best to capture snapshots of your rising self-esteem (happiness, thankfulness, progress, etc).
What Are Some Good Online Journal Sites?
I personal like Live Journal, Blogger (though Blogger has been having site issues), and just password protecting folders. The absolute best online journaling site I have tried so far though? Live Journal. Plus the best part? most online journal sites are FREE!
Live Journal (my favorite!)
Blogger (has been having site issues, so please check to make sure they’ve been fixed)
What Counts as a Paper Journal?
If its paper and you write in it, its a journal. Notebooks, Composition Books, Journals, Diaries, Sketchpads, and heck even little scraps of paper stapled together all count as a journal. A journal doesn’t have to be expensive! If you don’t mind writing in notebooks, there as often Back-to-School sales featuring notebooks for under $0.50 (50 cents). If you prefer a fancy looking journal, you can generally find the everywhere from bookstores to Wal*mart.
If you choose to keep a paper journal in a plain notebook there are MANY ways to spice up the look of it! One great way is to decorate the wrong of your journal with stickers, puff paint, glitter, rhinestones, and other types of craft material. Another great option is buying a set of brightly colored pens, markers, and/or crayons to use when writing in an entry. You can write in one color, and then write words that you would like to emphasize in another color.
Example: “I had such a long day at work, and I was very TIRED from getting up at 6am again”
Experiment with sizes of letters (write some words larger than others or smaller), writing styles (some cursive, others print), and even add symbol drawings like a happy face at the end of a sentence about how wonderful your day has been.
Journaling and Stress:
Journaling can help you reduce stress, which in turn can have a positive impact on your entire life! Less stress can lead to less binging, arriving at a healthy weight, better relationships (due to not snapping at people), and a whole lot more. I can’t stress how great journaling is! Become friends with your search engine to learn more about journaling.
What to Write If Stuck?
There is no rule that says you have to write three pages every day! Feel free to write a few sentences if you do not have much to talk about, or even talk about how stuck you are (it can help you unleash creative ideas). There are also many sites and books that have great journaling prompts and information you might enjoy.
Journaling Prompts (a TON of prompts are available on this website)
Happy journaling everyone, and if you have any questions feel free to e-mail me!
© Copyright 2011 Carol Bean, FreeLargePhotos.com
Image: nuttakit / FreeDigitalPhotos.net