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The Therapeutic Benefits of Keeping a Journal

Another Path to Self Healing - Writing as a Form of Therapy


journal writing

Keeping a Journal


Diaries and journals are written for a variety of different reasons. Historically, journal entries were intended to serve as written records. It is much easier to track a past event if you have a written record of your appointments and activities. Trial lawyers love clients and witnesses who keep journals and datebooks because it frees them of hours/days of investigation. Where were you on September 15, 1999? A diary could come in handy, huh?

Writing as a Form of Therapy

Writing down your thoughts and feelings is a therapeutic activity. Paper and pen are the tools for your creative expression, joys and sorrows alike. Journaling can be a healing process to help you get in touch with your deepest yearnings, find resolve for problems, and deal with personal issues. Whatever type of painful emotion you are experiencing (grief, sadness, fear, isolation, etc.) expressing yourself in writing can help ease your discomfort.

Writing Exercise Drains Brain of Mindless Clutter

Getting words down on paper can help clear your head of thoughts and ideas that are creating a mental swirl of confusion. Something as simple as keeping a grocery list can help free up the activity center of your brain, making room for clearer thinking.

Julia Cameron, author of The Artist's Way, A Spiritual Path to Higher Creativity, suggests a writing exercise she calls THE MORNING PAPERS. Take three sheets of paper each day and with pen or pencil just start writing. This process is intended to allow a "stream-of-consciousness." It doesn't matter what words or phrases you write down. It doesn't matter if your sentence structure or grammar is poor. Never mind misspellings. IT DOESN'T MATTER! THE MORNING PAPERS, unlike journals are not for keeping... they are not to be read at all. After you've finished the writing exercise feed your papers directly into the paper shredder or toss them inside the recycle bin. The purpose of doing this exercise is to clear your brain of mindless clutter and discharge any emotional baggage connected to useless or negative thoughts, or in Julia's words, it is a "brain-drain" activity.

In her creativity workshops, Julia teaches how we block our creative selves by not releasing our anger, our worries, our criticisms, etc. Things that block our creative juices flowing to the surface need an outlet. Writing can be a used as a venting tool to rid yourself of negative thinking.

Types of Journals

  • Daily Diary - Writing a daily journal is one way to balance your emotional ups and downs. It is also an excellent way to communicate with your inner self.
  • Gratitude Journal - Express your joy and happiness by keeping a gratitude journal. Make a note of everything, no matter how small or how big, that gives you joy or brings you happiness. It is always beneficial to focus on the positives, but it is especially healing during the bumpy times to be able to turn to a book filled with positivity and gratitude in your own handwriting.
  • Dream Diary - Scenarios and symbology experienced during slumber have special meanings. Record your dreams first thing in the morning while they are still fresh in your mind. Self analysis will come later when you have the time to explore the scribblings in your dream diary.
  • Food Diary - If you are counting calories or tracking emotional triggers to overeating, keeping a diary of your dietary consumption along with your emotional fluxes could benefit you n learning how to live better and eat healthier.
  • Observance Journal - Rose De Dan, Animal Reiki Shaman, suggests keeping an observance journal of your communications with animals in the wild, noting their behaviors, your insights, etc. Rose says Listen with Your Heart, Observe with Your Eyes, Feel with Your Body.
  • Travel Log - Jotting down your vacation highlights as you experience new places and different cultures will keep these special adventures alive forever.
  • Memories Journal - Writing down stories about your childhood makes for a good keepsake to pass down to your children, grandchildren, and to be cherished by generations to come. While you're at it, write down the stories told to you by your parents and grandparents. So many stories, so little time. Write them down before they are lost forever.
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