John Lennon, Albert Einstein and Charles Darwin all kept journals, regularly recording thoughts and experiences. As Tim Burton, Lord Voldemort, and I. My journals are my most prized possessions. Collected, curated, and exercised since 1995. Why? Because I believe it is necessary for the evolving man. Henceforth, my agenda is to advocate journaling as a movement for the betterment of humanity. Fists in the air and all.
So I perused the internet, and broadcasted a mini survey; I received 65 responses, which my stats will be based on. First let me punch in some facts: Studies prove that journaling has a multitude of health benefits. These include the management and relief of stress, anxiety, and depression. It helps decrease symptoms of asthma, arthritis and blood pressure, strengthen the immune system, and increase recovery rates post-operation. It eases symptoms of mental illness, and proved effective for coping with trauma and addiction. Wow, right?
But benefits extend beyond. Journaling integrates into who we are, the decisions we make, and how we show up for life. Neuroscience will tell you that it trains our attention, engages both hemispheres of the brain, and strengthens neural pathways in the mind. Just as physical exercise makes movement agile, so does reflective writing make perception sharp. Neurologist Judy Willis MD explains, “The practice of writing can enhance the brain’s intake, processing, retaining, and retrieving of information… it illuminates patterns, gives the brain time for reflection, and when well-guided, is a source of conceptual development and stimulus of the brain’s highest cognition.” I have 20 journals, no wonder I’m genius. If you’re questioning my genius or the facts, then how about this one: Life is overwhelming. We are bombarded with ideas, information, and social expectations, immediately this, not enough that, insecurities, anxieties…need I continue? In journaling, we clear out the unnecessary. Then weed it and clarify the narrative of ourselves and the world around us. When we review our story, meaning and purpose are revealed. In psychology, this is referred to as ‘reframing’.
Yet, 60% of survey respondents don’t journal. Of those, 30% aren’t interested, 20% admit avoiding negative emotions, 15% used to, another 15% won’t make time, 10% are certain it won’t help, 4% wish they did, but it never stuck, the remainder have varying views like social media sharing is enough, or there’s a distrust in recording. Here’s the thing. There is no rule to journaling. I write everywhere. I have journaled on napkins, the back of receipts, my left palm, inside text books, note apps…I don’t discriminate. The same goes for frequency and length. 17% of those who journal, write daily; the majority 31% journal consistently but very sporadically. Some journal only when they travel and others commit to 1 word to 3 lines per entry. 27% report de-stressing and feeling better after writing, another 27% use it for introspection and mindfulness. One respondent shreds when done.
I fold into all my emotions, trifling or grave. Or I entertain curious notions like, can love be quantified; or I remind myself, for medicine: read more Rumi. Try gratitude, affirmations, or dream journaling, even sketch or doodle. There is ample evidence suggesting that when we journal, our performance in living improves. So long as you put pen to paper and let it roam, long as you’re honest and authentic, it does not matter what the ink spells.
Towards the end of 2015, Fatima decided to pursue a creative and purposeful life. Today she is mostly known in her community as a poet— but she is also a freelancing copy-writer, creative/business consultant, editor, private tutor, and an energy healer practiced in both Reiki and Pranic Healing.She is inspired by nature, travel, and books. The readings on Fati’s shelf range from classic to modern literature, art, natural sciences, history, philosophy, psychology, and spirituality.Her values include the pursuit of knowledge, a faith in kindness, and a responsibility towards community.