When I was in junior high, I had a super cool diary called a “password journal.” You pushed a button, said the password and the case unlocked to reveal a small spiral notebook. I thought it was the best thing ever.
Then my little sister hacked it. She read all my entries about boy crushes and teenage angst—and I was mortified. I buried the journal in the woods (no joke!) and didn’t keep a diary again until college. Talk about scarred for life!
There is a difference between a diary and a journal. A diary is an account of daily events, a personal look at daily life. But a journal goes deeper. In a journal you can record thoughts, prayers, worries and the daily circumstances that make up your existence. Some people have different journals for different things. The benefits of keeping a journal are many, but here are five to get you started (especially if you don’t have little sisters around to read it!).
- Journaling helps you focus. Journaling—whether daily, weekly or monthly—helps you transfer the wandering thoughts in your brain to a piece of paper. In doing so, you process these thoughts more completely. If you’re struggling to handle your busy schedule, feel like you’re always forgetting something or overwhelmed by everything swirling in your mind, write it out! Putting it on paper gives a visual thought process from which you can make a plan. Writing out your ideas and concerns helps you focus on what really matters.
- Journaling relieves stress. When we feel unfocused, our stress level spikes. It’s that sense that life is spinning out of control and we don’t know what to prioritize first. A great way to fix this is—once again—journaling! Rather than internalize all those feelings and to-dos, write them out where you can tangibly deal with them. If you’re worried about a big decision, write it out as a prayer. Remember: There is no wrong way to journal. You get to make it individual to your personality and situation!
- Journaling alleviates anger. If you’re at all like me, stress makes you prone to anger. We become more irritated when we are under duress. Rather than lash out at the first person who looks at you cross-eyed, write out your feelings in a private place. Tell the Lord what’s going on in your heart (He already knows!). This is especially important in relationships. You might really want to give a certain friend or family member a piece of your mind, but before you do, simply write out what you’d like to say to them on paper. Then reread it a few hours (or days) later. Do you still feel the same way? Do you need to journal a prayer repenting of your attitude? Do you need to rip out those pages and throw them away? Use your journal to deal with your emotions in a healthy manner.
- Journaling is not one-size-fits-all. As previously stated, journaling won’t look the same for everyone. A great example of this is bullet journaling, a minimalistic approach to planning and tracking your days. If you look up bullet journaling on Instagram, you’ll see thousands of different layouts and ideas, each one individual to the author’s taste. You get to make journaling work for you!
- Journaling helps you draw near to God. Finally, journaling is a great way to draw near to God—particularly if you struggle to pray. If you have a hard time focusing when you pray, try writing out your prayers. Bring a journal with you wherever you go and write out your prayers before class, at lunch or even in your car. I find that writing out prayers keeps me focused and more intentional about what I say. Though I often get distracted when I’m praying “in my head,” writing the words on paper keeps me engaged in conversation with the Lord, and it may help you as well.
Do you love journaling? Share your favorite journaling ideas and tips in the comments below or in our Facebook group!