Experiment: What I've Learned from Keeping a Journal for One Month

by - February 05, 2018

journalling, journal, inspiration, wellbeing, wellness, lifestyle, calm, creativity, mindfulness, positivity, positive, happiness,mindbodysoul, online magazine
People have kept journals or diaries for centuries. It's easy, it can be methodical or creative, it helps us express our thoughts and feelings, and teaches us self-reflection. Now, journals are becoming more and more popular, flooding social media feeds and online pin boards with ideas and pretty pictures. Professionals offer them as a therapeutic tool for anxiety and depression, and also as a step closer to learning more about ourselves. So why not try them? Follow my journey on my one-month journal experiment and have a look at my findings. Before I started in January, I did some research into different varieties and, honestly, they made my head spin. Who knew that the simple act of keeping a journal presented so many options? I've picked a handful of promising types and tried each one of them with the goal of finding out what really works and what doesn't. Obviously, what worked for me might be different for you, but this way you can have a clearer picture of where to start and what you might find helpful. Here are my results. 


Fellow psychologists suggest that when you start feeling particularly anxious (especially in the middle of the night), get out of bed, sit down at a desk and start writing your worries down instead of losing sleep and peace of mind to anxiety. I didn't expect much from this exercise, to be honest, but as the days progressed and I glanced at my previous entries, something clicked in me. The majority of my worries kept repeating themselves - looking back, they're all so similar. What I found is that they all stem from doubts, fears and uncertainties. My worries will probably stay the same as long as I have my doubts. The key is to break the pattern. If I don't fully come to terms with the remains of my doubts and fears, my anxieties won't go away, they'll just multiply as their nature won't really change. It felt revelating how much I can learn about myself and at the same time empowering, realizing that the key to quieting my worries is by having more self-belief and accept the uncertainties without the need to control everything. 

journalling, journal, inspiration, wellbeing, wellness, lifestyle, calm, creativity, mindfulness, positivity, happiness,mindbodysoul, online magazine

The beauty of the gratitude journal is that you don't have to dedicate a big chunk of your time for it. You can decide to list the first three or five things you're grateful for that day or jot down each one on the go when you feel like it. You could be grateful for the wake-up scent of your morning coffee, your family and job or the lack of traffic on the way home. When I started writing my gratitude journal, I didn't feel the "connection" to put it that way, but I diligently continued to do so for the rest of the month. I was just listing a sequence of little and big experiences, people and events that were significant to me and I felt grateful for. Then when the time came to figure out what I've learned from this experiment, I began reading my entries, one by one, and then re-read them all over again. I was sitting there and thinking "Did I write all this?". A wave of calm whooshed over me and I felt this sudden coziness of safety and warmth. It felt good to remind myself of all those things I meticulously listed every day, all those people, emotions and blessings I am thankful for. They gave me hope to keep trying and courage to keep fighting. So even if you are like me - have some faith in the process and you might be surprised.

journalling, journal, inspiration, wellbeing, wellness, lifestyle, calm, creativity, mindfulness, positivity, happiness,mindbodysoul, online magazine

Self-discovery or self-knowledge journals come in the form of multiple questions that you write down and answer. They usually offer a wide range from what you value most to what your dreams and hopes are. You can do as many of those as you want and you can easily find diverse sets of questions on the internet from blogs and social media. They can be done at home, during your commute or even in your head if you can't find time to sit down with pen and paper. If you wish you can take your time answering, but also experiment by writing down the first thing that comes to mind as I found that approach more insightful. Not having too much time to overthink your responses and come up with "something better" is quite helpful once you go over your responses at the end and see the themes that have emerged. I suggest you carefully read into your answers and look for themes and commonalities as they might give you an indication of something you've been missing in your life or something you've been looking for.

journalling, journal, inspiration, wellbeing, wellness, lifestyle, calm, creativity, mindfulness, positivity, happiness,mindbodysoul, online magazine

The purpose of free-form writing is to clear our minds and help us create meanings from our thoughts and feelings. Sometimes when we feel confused or overwhelmed with emotions, writing becomes this amazing tool that offers us a thereperutical relief and healthy outlet to express ourselves without judgement or criticism. We feel lighter and unburdened. The minute I began writing, it felt like there's something embarrassing about writing my random thoughts down as an adult, like we're not supposed to have random thoughts that need expressing once we grow up, like we're supposed to keep everything together without the crack of vulnerability. The more I wrote, the more I realized that it's okay to write about my qualms and dilemmas as an adult. Challenges don't end once we turn eighteen or leave university or when we get our first real job. They probably don't end with middle age either or when we grow grey hair. And no matter how much we want (really want) to always keep it together in the face of adversity, challenges often bring those qualms and dilemmas. So feel free to write no matter what comes in mind and allow yourself to be the real you.

journalling, journal, inspiration, wellbeing, wellness, lifestyle, calm, creativity, mindfulness, positivity, happiness,mindbodysoul, online magazine

Rather than keeping an idea or a brainstorming journal, all those years I used to write my spontaneous ideas on loose pieces of note paper. But since I've started keeping a systematic record of my ideas and thoughts, I've discovered it's way easier to sort out the important ones and have everything in one place. It brought more coherence to my planning and improved my work flow. If you feel that journal writing is not "your thing", at least give the idea/brainstorming journal a try as it's more practically orientated and you can immediately see the difference. Whether it's an idea for your report, the book you've intended to start or a new recipe, this journal will be there for you. You can categorize your ideas by day, month and year, by subject matter or by project - it offers a variety of options to fit your personal style. You can use the evergreen notepad and pen, but a digital record would work just as well as long as you regularly back it up! 

If you're thinking of starting your own journal experiment, I hope I've cleared out some of your doubts and reservations. Trying new things is always beneficial for our well-being, especially during winter when we often feel so cocooned in our little bubble. Don't be afraid to broaden your perspectives and who knows? Maybe you'll enjoy it as much as I did or maybe you'll find something you love.

Please feel free to share any of your own experiences of writing a journal in the comments below!

Have a wonderful day, full with love and calm and see you next week!

Wellness is the place where you can join us on our journey to test some of those lifestyle tools and techniques the world has given us in its attempt to help us 'relax'. Working out, breathing, foods to avoid or cling to, journaling, and so on. We will share with you what worked, what didn't, and what surprised us most. And of course, encourage you to try your own!

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