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The Benefits of Journaling & How it Can Help You Simplify Your Life

The Benefits of Journaling & How it Can Help You Simplify Your Life

I’m kicking off a new series this week all about journaling. Including how journaling can help you simplify your home and your life. Today’s post is specifically about the benefits of journaling. Including what journaling has to do with decluttering and simplifying. And how journaling can help you simplify your life.

You can find a post about how to start a journaling practice (including some of my favourite daily journaling prompts)here: How to Start a Meaningful Journaling Practice + 12 Simple Daily Journal Prompts

And check out this post about how you can use journaling as a tool to help you declutter your home and simplify your life. Helping you gain clarity about your decluttering goals and motivations. So you can clear the clutter with more confidence and ease!

And finally, if you’re ready to harness the power of journaling to help you simplify your home and your life to create lasting change, check out my in-depth journaling guide, Journaling for Simplicity here!

What is journaling?

Before getting into the benefits of journaling, it can be helpful to clarify exactly what journaling is.

In its most basic form, journaling is simply the practice of recording your personal experiences, events, emotions, thoughts, goals, etc.

Journaling can be used to reduce stress, process thoughts, feelings and experiences, gain self-awareness and insights and as a personal way to express yourself.

Journaling can look so many different ways. From ‘dear diary’ type journals, to bullet journals, art journals, guided journals and more. The options for what a journal can be and look like are endless.

For me, journaling is a practice of creating time and space to hear and connect with my thoughts. Whether that looks like writing paragraphs, writing bullet point lists, doing a brain dump, creating and drawing something beautiful or simply answering a few guided prompts.

It doesn’t really matter what it looks like, as much as how it feels and what it can do for you.

The Benefits of Journaling & How it Can Help You Simplify Your Life
Photo by Ana Tavares on Unsplash

The benefits of journaling

There are many benefits of journaling. It’s been proven to reduce stress, improve emotional intelligence and even help you heal faster!

Today I’m going to share some of my favourite benefits of journaling and the positive ways it might be able to impact your life too!

Journaling to declutter your mind

Because I usually write about simplifying and decluttering your home and life, you may be wondering why I’m writing about journaling now. What does journaling have to do with decluttering??

A lot actually!

In fact, one of my favourite benefits of journaling is that it feels like decluttering your mind!

Most of us have a long list of things swirling around in our heads at any given time. Maybe it’s things you need to do, things you want to remember, thoughts you’re thinking through, emotions and feelings you’re feeling right now, are holding onto or need to work through, regrets from the past, worries about the future, etc.

While some of the things you’re carrying around in your head are needed for the tasks you’re working on at any given time. A lot of it isn’t needed at the moment, or even at all!

The benefit of journaling is that you can get some of the things swirling around in your head out of your head so you don’t have to continue carrying them around with you all the time.

Clearing mental clutter

A lot of what you carry around in your head can be mental and emotional clutter. Thoughts and feelings you don’t need right now, or don’t need at all. But those thoughts and feelings continue taking up space in your mind and time and energy from your day.

Journaling is a tool that gives you the opportunity to take the time and space to notice, observe and sort through what’s filling your mind.

Giving you the opportunity to get some of the unhelpful, unneeded and unwanted thoughts and feelings out of your head. And giving you permission to explore or leave these things in your journal. Rather than carrying them around in your head all the time. Helping you clear your mind, decide what needs your time and energy and what is just cluttering up your mind.

It’s truly like decluttering for your mind! Helping reduce some of the mental clutter.

And remember, journaling can also be a brain dump. Where you literally get everything out of your mind and into a big list for you to sort through later. Which is a great way to clear your mind and help decrease the mental load and mental clutter you’re carrying.

Journaling to improve your mindset

Not only can journaling help your work through and process the hard things. Another benefit of journaling is the way it can also help you celebrate and appreciate the good parts of your life!

Our brains all have a confirmation bias. Meaning whatever you actively notice and pay attention to will be what you notice more of.

Our brains like to confirm what we believe and think is true. So we subconsciously gather evidence to prove to ourselves what we think and believe is true.

If you think about and believe that everything is terrible, your brain will actively gather evidence to prove that’s true.

If you notice and pay attention to the good things filling your life and happening around you, your brain will actively gather evidence to prove that’s true.

The more you notice, appreciate and gather evidence of the good things filling your life, the more positive and content you might feel. The more content you feel, the easier it will be to embrace a simpler life and stop the constant search for more, newer, better, etc.

Gratitude journaling

And a simple way to make this mindset shift is starting a gratitude practice.

A gratitude practice is not only a fun way to celebrate and appreciate the good in your days. But it’s also a really great tool to include in your journaling practice.

If you struggle with knowing what to write in your journal, start with a gratitude list! It’s an easy and impactful way to start writing, even when you don’t know what to write about.

Another fun way to use gratitude journaling is making a list of tiny delights. It’s very similar to a gratitude list, except you focus on little things that delight you or bring you joy throughout your day. It can feel like a low-pressure way to keep a gratitude journal fresh, specific and fun.

Journaling to live more intentionally

Another one of the many benefits of journaling is how it can become a tool to help you live more intentionally and purposefully.

Journaling can help you gain clarity about what your true values, goals and priorities are. Working through what you think your goals and priorities should be and really getting clear on what you want your goals and priorities to be.

Your journal can be a place where you explore different goals and opportunities. Working through different options and scenarios, paying attention to what feels right to you. Helping you make more intentional choices that feel in alignment with your goals, values and priorities.

Journaling also gives you time and space to look at the “big picture” of your life. Rather than getting bogged down in the day-to-day tasks that sometimes make it hard to zoom out and look at your life as a whole.

This “big picture” view can help you get clear on what matters most to you. And explore what parts of your life feel in alignment with your values, goals and priorities and what parts don’t.

Journaling for self-awareness

Your journal can also be a place where you get to know yourself better. Where you can spend time exploring thoughts, ideas, goals, beliefs, patterns, dreams, values, limiting beliefs, etc.

Journaling gives you time and space for self-reflection and to get to know your authentic self better. Without outside influences, self-consciousness or who you think you “should” be getting in your way.

You may have heard the quote, “Can you remember who you were before the world told you who you should be?”.

A journal gives you space to explore who you are with curiosity and openness.

As well as space to gain clarity about your beliefs, patterns, habits and limiting beliefs that often feel so ingrained and automatic, you don’t question them. But you can explore what’s underneath, driving certain behaviours and patterns in your life in your journal.

Journaling to respond not react

A journal is a great place to explore your feelings and emotions. Working through and processing big feelings so you can react less emotionally and respond more intentionally instead.

When you’re feeling a big or strong emotion or reaction, it can be hard to see it clearly.

But taking some time to tease apart what you’re feeling and what’s underneath your initial reaction, can help you avoid reacting in a way you might later regret. And learn to start giving yourself time and space to process your emotions and respond instead.

If you notice yourself feeling really reactive or triggered by a certain event, person or even just on a particular day in general, a journal can be a great tool. Get some of that emotion and reactivity out in your journal so you can become more calm, centered and intentional rather than reactive.

Journaling to slow down

It’s easy to get caught up in the busyness of everyday life. Doing what needs to be done. But never finding the time, space or energy to slow down and pay attention to what you’re really thinking and feeling.

Journaling gives you an opportunity to really check in with yourself on a regular basis.

Even if you only spend a few minutes with your journal, you can still take a moment to notice and pay attention to how you’re really feeling. What your thoughts are like. What your body feels like. And what your mind feels like.

These kinds of check-ins are easy to skip over in the midst of everyday life. But they are a really great way to ground yourself, center yourself, check-in with yourself and pay attention to how you’re really feeling, right now.

Armed with that information, you can then make choices and take action to support yourself. Even if it’s just in little ways.  

Journaling to find creative solutions

Journaling is also a great way to gain insight and find creative solutions in your life.

When you don’t often take the time to slow down and really give yourself time and space to process your thoughts and feelings, it can be hard to find solutions to the pain points in your days.

It’s easy to think there’s nothing you can do about a pain point when you haven’t taken the time to really think it through.

But often there are creative solutions to be found once you spend some time thinking through a situation and getting creative. And your journal is the perfect place to give yourself the time and space to think through, process, explore and look for creative solutions.

Your journal can also be a space where you explore alternatives to find clarity when you’re trying to make a decision. When in doubt, explore each option and pay attention to what feels right to you right now.

Journaling for self-care

Journaling can also be a wonderful act of self-care.

Studies show that journaling can help improve both your physical and psychological health.

Your journal can be a place where you can get out, process and work through anxiety or stress you may be carrying. Rather than holding onto it in your mind and obsessing over it. Helping to ground, center and calm your mind.

It can be a place where you can forgive yourself for mistakes you’re beating yourself up over. And a place where you can repeat affirmations to yourself to build up feelings of self-worth and self-esteem.

Journaling to bring yourself back to the present moment

And finally, another one of the great benefits of journaling is the way it can become a mindfulness tool. A space where you can slow down, notice and pay attention to what’s happening and what you’re feeling in the here and now.

I find this especially helpful when my mind is swirling with lots of thoughts, feelings, ideas, reminders, etc.

Getting all of those things out of my head and onto paper helps me clear my busy mind. So I can be more present and intentional in the day. Rather than getting caught up in the swirling thoughts that take me out of the present moment.  

Make it your own

The key to having a journaling practice that gives you these benefits and more is making the practice your own.

Let go of what you think journaling should look like.

Your journal doesn’t have to look a certain way. It doesn’t have to be pretty or grammatically correct. You don’t need to worry about spelling mistakes, incomplete sentences, messy writing, etc.

It can be bullet point lists, drawings, stream of consciousness writing, done with pen and paper, done on a computer or app, etc. You don’t need to write for a certain length of time or a certain number of pages.

It is personal and can be whatever you want it to be or need it to be. And what you want and need from your journal can be different every time you sit down to write!

The key to a successful and beneficial journaling practice is making it your own and making it work for you.

Check out this post for tips to help you start a journaling practice and start figuring out what will work best for you.

Read more about how you can use journaling to simplify your home and your life here. And learn more about the in-depth Journaling for Simplicity guide here!

In the meantime, I’d love to know, do you have a journaling practice? What’s your favourite benefit of journaling? Leave a comment below and let me know!

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Denise

Saturday 12th of February 2022

It is some personal thoughts you have. Sometimes after I write them down later I go back and tear them up. I got it off my mind and that helped!

Simple Lionheart Life

Monday 14th of February 2022

Yes! I definitely agree. Sometimes all we need is just the chance to get the thoughts out! Thanks for reading :)

Candy

Monday 7th of February 2022

I think my journaling is too diary like and also can seem very negative. Even though I try to do the gratitudes it can all become stressful and make me feel I’m doing it wrong! I read an article in the New Scientist last week about happiness, which was very good! One thing that really resonated was that in trying to find something or 3 things to be grateful for can increase stress and a lack of satisfaction, which really resonated! They suggested starting with a couple of things a week and really focusing on how that made you feel. So I thought I’d try it. I do love reading back old journals and laughing at what I was thinking and feeling which vanished in nothingness. Two quotes come to mind…’lots that we think might happen never actualise’ and ….’todays news is tomorrow’s fish and chip paper’ (you can tell I’m British 🤣🤣❤️)

Simple Lionheart Life

Friday 11th of February 2022

Love the quotes. How true! I love that you are trying different things to find what works and feels best for you. I think that's so important. We really need to experiment and figure out what feels good to us so our journaling practice can be helpful and meaningful. Thanks for sharing your experience, I think it's really important!

Angela

Monday 7th of February 2022

I journal on and off but my thoughts are very private and I don’t think I’d want my family reading them if anything happened to me and this is becoming more in my thoughts as I’m in my 70s. Do you get rid of your old journals? I feel I want to but I’m procrastinating over it. I only reread them when I decide I want to get rid of them and then I keep them.

Simple Lionheart Life

Friday 11th of February 2022

I've gotten rid of some journals and kept others. I feel the same - I don't know I'd ever want anyone reading my journals either. I would take some time to look through them and decide what feels right for you. I know many people enjoy keeping old journals. And others feel no need to revisit those past feelings, thoughts and explorations. I don't think there's any right or wrong choice. Maybe for your own peace of mind, you might prefer to get rid of a journal when you fill it up, so you feel free to write more openly in it. I hope that helps. Thank you for sharing this important conversation!

Denise Lawson

Sunday 6th of February 2022

Great post💜 I’ve done a gratitude journal for a few years. I love how it keeps me grounded and positive. One of my favourite quotes is “Make gratitude your attitude”💛

Simple Lionheart Life

Friday 11th of February 2022

Thanks so much, Denise! I agree - a gratitude journal is truly a game changer. It seems so simple, but it really does have such a big impact!

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