Have you all seen a recent ad where the lead protagonist is a super busy mom, juggling her son’s homework and her daughter’s music lessons at the cost of her own needs, day in and day out? Though depicted comically, that ad pretty much summarises the modern parent – constantly busy with ten things to do at once, whether it’s things at home or work. The amount of stress you’ll be dealing with on a daily basis is no joke and if you haven’t yet taken any measures to bring down your stress levels, well, what better time to begin than today!
What’s This Mysterious Stress-buster That Will Only Take 10 Minutes of Your Day?
We know things like a healthy diet, plenty of exercise, and meditation are key in bringing down stress levels because it has been preached plenty of times. That’s not to say those things don’t work; in fact, they present the best results of all! But when it comes to your packed schedule, certain quick-fix measures may also need to be adopted. And that’s where doing this 10-minute activity at the beginning of the day is going to help you. Nope, we’re not talking about a quick workout here – we’re talking about the totally underrated habit of ‘journalling’!
Not exactly what you were expecting, right? But read on to find out why and how this should be a habit you must practise on a daily basis!
6 Reasons Why You Should Start Maintaining a Journal
Simply put, journalling basically means documenting different activities of your day or your feelings or anything that you would like to express, in a written format. There are neither prescribed rules for journalling nor do you have to be blessed with extraordinary writing prowess to maintain a journal – feel free to write to your heart’s content, just the way you want!
1. Journalling Helps You Explore Situations Differently
Stress stems from a variety of situations, one of them being the multitude of things you have to handle emotionally, physically, professionally – the works! There’s a lot of things that may seem hard to handle simply because you don’t understand what’s going on, why it’s happening to you, or because you have a constantly running train of thoughts in the first place. Journalling helps you collect those thoughts in one place and once you’ve written them out, you’ll be able to get a clearer picture of the various things in your life. You’ll see different sides of the same situation, re-live something with a fresh perspective, and thus, be able to handle similar situations better the next time.
2. It Makes You Realise Everything You Have to Be Grateful for
Maintaining a separate gratitude journal aside, journalling gives you the opportunity to understand everything you’re blessed with in life. You’re probably going to write about how managing your career and household duties get taxing sometimes, or how that PTA meeting is coming up in your child’s school, or about that big presentation due at work. While these seem like incredibly stressful situations to handle, reading through these entries with a calmer mind will make you realise how you’re so lucky to be able to perform these different responsibilities and are blessed with a loving family. And if you were to feel otherwise, at all, well, the next point is for you!
3. Journalling Helps You Identify Your Stress-points Better
Rather than spending your time in muddled confusion over the root cause of your problems, journalling your daily battles will help you prioritise what your main concerns and fears are. By doing so, you’re able to gain a clearer picture of the actual issues you’re dealing with, which gives you a starting point to work on getting rid of them!
4. This Habit Will Help You on Your Journey of Self-improvement
Not only does it gather all your causes of stress in one place, but journalling also brings together your emotions, plans, and goals. While you may express some of these as actionable items, some things you write may later reveal themselves to be because of an underlying frustration or wish! Either way, you get to see a lot of your dreams take the shape of actionable plans once you start writing them out. You also tend to see changes in the way you used to approach a particular situation; what you do once you have clarity may be the complete opposite (and positively so!) of your earlier reactions!
5. Journalling Helps You Embrace Creativity
No ‘staying within the lines’ or ‘using Royal Blue ink’ only rules to be followed here! Journalling lets you write without inhibitions and lets you accompany your words with doodles and colours; just the way you want it, in short! Not only will putting pen to paper improve your writing skills and penmanship tremendously, but you’ll also get to explore and enhance your artistic side – yes, just like your kids get to do. Also, watch out for all the different ideas your mind will now be free to create and explore!
6. Journalling Even Helps With Physical Ailments
A study has shown that maintaining a journal can help wounds heal faster, not because of the physical exercise of writing involved, but because writing actually led to a change in their mindset. Similarly, maintaining a journal for the food you eat or the different physical activities you do can also help you keep track of your health carefully – if you are conscious of what’s going into your body, you’ll be able to pinpoint the cause of any unexpected troubles!
How to Maintain a Journal
Yes, we did say there are no rules, and we stick to that. Simply treat the following as guidelines to get the best out of your journalling habit!
1. Choose the Right Medium
As much as writing the old-fashioned way is truly the best, it may not be appropriate for everyone due to various reasons. You can alternatively try online journal sites and apps or blogging as a medium to express your feelings. Choosing the right medium is important to ensure that you stick to this habit!
2. Spend 10 Minutes in the Morning to Start This Habit
Why in the morning? When you wake up, there are so many things that are scrambling about in your mind, all calling for your attention; about 5 minutes after you open your eyes, you’re running about for others’ needs! Well, use this activity to gift yourself some me-time. Wake up a little earlier if you have to, but schedule a time and start your day by writing out things like what you’re feeling, what are your goals for the days, what’s something you can’t wait for to happen that day, and so on. Ten minutes into writing, you’ll realise that your day looks much more sorted, and your incredible mound of duties looks much more achievable. Some people also find that penning down the dreams they’ve had can give them clarity on what they might be feeling on a subconscious level as well. As absurd as dreams can get, they sometimes hold clues to deep-set feelings and emotions you might want to deal with.
You don’t have to stick to a time limit though – this is for those who need a starting point for their new habit. If you have more time to spare and much more you want to write, go for it, by all means!
3. What You Should Write About
This comes down to a personal preference at the end of the day, but there are different approaches to journalling you can try. A gratitude journal requires you to list things out that you’re grateful for, while a bullet journal is best for those who love to stay organised and on top of their daily tasks for the day. There’s also the regular diary-writing style that lets you have a free-hand with whatever you want to express. Explore different styles and find out what works best for you!
4. Reflect on Your Previous Entries Once in a While
Every so often, go back a couple of pages and look at what you’ve written. This helps you understand your emotional (and other) state of mind at a particular point, and how far you’ve come since then or how much further you need to come. Use the journal to assess if you’re moving in the direction you’d like to be headed in.
Ensure that you don’t pressure yourself when it comes to maintaining your journal. Let your thoughts flow free and fast; just catch them as they come and write them all out. Start off with your journal right away and when you read all your entries on December 31st, 2019, you’re sure to thank yourself for sticking to this habit!