AUTHOR DiveThru Team
September 9,2019 - DiveThru Team
Journaling: Everything You Need To Know
Everywhere you look someone is telling you what you should and shouldn’t do for your wellbeing. Coffee’s good for you one minute but not the next. You should feel joyful at all times but also be real. Coconut oil should be used everywhere but could also be wreaking havoc on your life. You should quiet your mind but not all the way because then you’ll make people uncomfortable. There’s a whole lot of shit you should and shouldn’t be doing. But, what if you could do one single practice that could help you cut through the noise and figure out what’s best for you?
*Hint, it’s journaling.*
What if that practice could also help you better understand your emotions, work through your relationship problems and even help you build the life you have always wanted?
Better yet, what if that practice didn’t require anything fancy and could be done with items that you have kicking around your office, house or even in your handbag/backpack at this moment?
Since you actively clicked on this article, you know where I’m heading with this.
Journaling… Journaling is the practice I’m talking about.
Here at DiveThru, journaling is sort of our whole thing. We’re all about journaling because it changed our founder’s life. She was in a place where her mind felt like a fragile place to exist. Her thoughts were all consuming, and her body was suffering. Yet, on the outside looking in, she was doing all of the things she should and shouldn’t be doing.
After a life-shattering panic attack, she realized she needed to make a change.
Journaling was a large part of that change.
As she began to piece her life back together, journaling became her go to. She experienced the benefits that journaling could have in her life, and she wanted to share that with the world.
Whether you need a life-changing practice or are simply looking to feel better in your day-to-day life, journaling can be an excellent tool that can help you DiveThru what you’re going thru (interested in what we mean by that statement? Click here to learn more about our mission).
In this article, we cover everything you need to know about journaling. We explore what journaling is, and identify the benefits that are associated with journaling. We answer the questions people often have when starting a journaling practice and provide you with journaling prompts to help you get started. Lastly, we cover the steps for starting a journaling practice and go over tips to maximize your efforts.
(Want to get started with your journaling practice right away? Download the DiveThru app here!)
Yup, you’ve got some reading ahead.
Let’s DiveThru, shall we?
What Is Journaling?
Merriam Webster says journaling is the act of recording your experiences, ideas or reflections.
While this is a basic description, it does a great job at showing how simple journaling truly is. There are no secret formulas. There’s no trap door or secret magic trick. If you want to start a journaling practice, all you do is… well, write shit down!
End of article.
Okay, fine, there’s some other stuff you should know.
Firstly, you might ask why we’d bother to record our experiences, ideas or reflections? And, science has some answers.
What Are The Benefits Of Journaling?
The. secret. is. out… Journaling is real good for you. By turning to the Google machine, you’ll uncover article upon article that discusses, in depth, the many benefits associated with journaling.
Here are our favorites that Psych Central explored:
1. Clarify Your Thoughts And Feelings
You’ve got thoughts floating around in your mind and feelings running rampant within…or, wherever we feel our feelings. Journaling has shown to help us make sense of the thoughts we’re thinking and the feelings we’re feeling. We could all do with some of that.
2. Get To Know Yourself Better
You’d think we understand the person we spend every moment with… Ourselves. But, sometimes it feels like we have no idea who we are. Journaling routinely can help you better understand yourself. Naturally, understanding yourself a bit (or a whole lot) better will improve your overall quality of life.
3. Reduce Stress
The kids are stressed. We’re the kids. I’m talking about us. Yup, you and me! When we turn to journaling to explore our emotions, we help release their intensity.
4. Solve Problems More Effectively
As a society, we have created a world where problem-solving is often only done from a left-brained, analytical perspective. However, sometimes we have to engage our right-brained more creative and intuitive self. Journaling unlocks this side of our brain and allows us the opportunity for unexpected solutions to seemingly unsolvable problems.
5. Resolve Interpersonal Conflicts
People sometimes, amirite? Journaling can help. When we write about misunderstandings with others rather than stewing in them, we help ourselves understand another’s point of view. Why aren’t they teaching this in school?!
Commonly Asked Questions About Journaling
Now that you’re totally and completely bought into the power of journaling, you might have some questions. When anyone goes to start something new, it’s natural for there to be things you’re unsure about. We don’t know what we don’t know. For that reason, here are the answers to the questions we commonly get asked.
1. When should I journal?
Okay, brace yourself for the answer. It’s complex. It’s customized for you… The best time to journal is whenever you can.
Yup, it’s as easy as that. Whenever you can make time to journal is the best time to journal.
Here at DiveThru, we encourage our team to journal about personal experience in the morning and before bed. During working hours, we recommend one another turn to our journal whenever an obstacle presents itself and at the end of their day.
Yup, we’re into journaling.
2. How long should I journal?
There is research that shows that journaling for as little as 15 to 20 minutes a day three to five times throughout four months was enough to impact one’s physical wellbeing, positively.
But, here at DiveThru, we just want you to journal. Like, please. Please journal. It’s real good for you.
Any time you can take for introspection is time well spent. Whether it be a quick check-in or a meaty journaling session, you’ll pull something from it – and we hope that’s enough to motivate you to journalllllllllllll.
3. What do I need to journal?
To successfully journal, the journal must choose its master. We once knew someone who’s journal was made out of holly with a phoenix tail at its core…
Oh no… Wait… we’re thinking of what Harry Potter needed to overthrow He Who Must Not Be Named.
To journal? You just need a piece of paper and a pen. Super simple!
4. What should I journal about?
We find that this is the question we get asked the most. With that in mind, read on for some journaling prompts that will help you get started:
5 Journaling Prompts To Get Started
1. How am I doing?
You’d be surprised at what comes up when you answer this simple question honestly. To answer it effectively, take a moment to check in with yourself. Take a breath and notice any thoughts floating around, any feelings your experiencing and just how you’re doing at that moment.
2. What am I grateful for?
Taking time to practice gratitude will change your life. Plain and simple. It’s why we include a daily check-in within the DiveThru app for our Divers.
3. I currently feel….
When answering questions isn’t working, another way to start your journaling question is by completing sentences. By exploring how you feel through your journal, you can help yourself make sense of it.
4. What’s stressing you out currently?
We’re all about diving thru what you go thru so we couldn’t share five journaling prompts without a question that requires exploring some more in-depth stuff. By being honest with yourself about what’s currently stressing you out, you take a step towards better managing it.
5. How do I feel about myself?
Journaling about how you feel about yourself can result in some tears. But, we’re all about that. We also find that taking the time to journal about how you feel about yourself opens the doors to other topics you’ll realize you have to DiveThru!
5 Steps To Start A Journaling Practice
Now that you know what journaling is, the benefits, the answers to frequently asked questions as well as journaling prompts to get you started, let’s talk about how to set up your own journaling practice.
1. Pick Out A Beautiful Journal (Or Not)
Whenever you’re looking to form a new habit, it’s essential to set yourself up for success. Some of us may thrive from journaling in a super cute journal. Unfortunately, it won’t be made of holly and have a phoenix feather at its core, but a beautiful journal that reflects your personality could be what we need to jump-start your practice.
Or, it couldn’t, and scrap paper is all you need. That’s cool, too.
2. Carve Out Time In Your Schedule (And Add It To Your Calendar)
We’re busy. You’re busy. Everyone’s busy.
While it’s essential to recognize that taking time for yourself is a privilege that not all of us can afford, it’s important to be intentional with that privilege. We make time for what we make time for. We’d probably have a lot more time if we didn’t watch hours worth of Brooklyn Nine-Nine reruns, but here we are.
If you can, carve out time in your schedule for journaling. Add it into your calendar. Set up reminders for yourself. Be proactive in trying to make your journaling practice stick.
One thing our Divers love about the DiveThru app is that you can set a notification reminder for when you want to journal (or as we call it, DiveThru). You can download the DiveThru app and get started for free by clicking here.
3. Establish Your Why
We all have motivations behind what we do. We watch reruns of Brooklyn Nine-Nine because it soothes our soul. We move our bodies because we love them (if your motives for exercise are a bit crueler than this reason, we have a Dive for that).
When it comes to sticking to your journaling practice, it’s crucial to establish your why. So, we’ll ask you… Why do you want to start a journaling practice?
4. Share Your Journey With Others
Starting any habit is hard. Starting a habit of eating ice cream every day is easier (and more delicious) than one surrounding journaling. For that reason, it’s important to share your journey with others. Here at DiveThru, we’re alllll about community. Seriously, it’s one of our core values. Why? Well because we get it. We all have stuff that we need to DiveThru, and that stuff can be messy. We so often feel alone in our journey, and we don’t want you to feel that way anymore.
Our DiveThru Together Community Group is all about connecting YOU with people who are journaling (and diving thru), too. Within the group, we laugh together, cry together, and do what we can to keep one another accountable. We’re also all about uplifting each other because it’s cool to be kind.
You can join the group by clicking here.
5. Download A Journaling App
There’s an app for everything – including your journaling practice! While a lot of the journaling apps on the market get you to journal into the app, it’s best to find a hybrid.
DiveThru is a guided journaling app rooted in journaling therapy. For that reason, we get you to journal but ensure you do it in the written form. This helps you truly reap the benefits associated with journaling (highlighted below). Don’t fret, you can still input your summaries into the app to review later and track your journey. You can also do quick check-ins throughout your day when you don’t have the chance to get a big journaling session in.
Best part? It’s free to download and get started!
You can download the DiveThru app here.
Still not convinced that journaling by hand is better than inputting it into an app? Let us convince you:
Why You Should Journal With A Pen + Paper
As technology advances, a lot of things we once did will radically improve. While we are all for improvements, there are certain things that benefit us to do the ‘old school way’. Here’s why journaling is best done by connecting pen to paper:
1. Writing By Hand Forces You To Slow Down
We talk about how busy we are on this blog, a lot. As our lives get increasingly demanding, it’s important to take time to slow down. Journaling by hand helps us slow down. A psychologist at Yale told the New York Times that taking the time to writing things down forces you to focus on what’s important. And guess what’s important? You and what you’re going thru.
2. Writing By Hand Fully Engages Your Brain
While we may think that writing is a relatively simply act, it requires more of your motor skills, and a collection of links around your brain called the “reading circuit.” When activating these pathways, you’re able to better focus about the topic at hand.
3. Writing By Hand Calms Your Body And Nerves
Science tells us that writing by hand increases activity in the brain’s motor cortex resulting in an effect that’s similar to meditation. Because of this, journaling can help calm your body and nerves as it promotes mindfulness. Who doesn’t need some help with that?
4. Writing Helps You Remember Shit Better
We’ve got a lot of info to recall at all times. Writing by hand is proven to help increase your memory. A study published in Psychological Science had participants talk notes during a TED Talk. Half of the participants took notes via their laptop, and the other half by writing by hand. The researchers then tested them on the information in the lecture. They found that both parties remembered facts (such as dates) but the hand writers better understood the conceptual questions.
What does this mean? Taking the time to write by hand helps you slow down, process and reframe information in your own words which is proven to be more helpful.
Now that we have convinced you of the magic of journaling by hand, you may still be coming up with questions or barriers in your mind that could derail your practice or minimize the benefits. Don’t worry, you’re not the only one, so see below for some tips, tricks and best practices to make it easier to get started and get you in the flow.”
Journaling Best Practice
While there’s really no way you could mess up your journaling practice, there are some best practice tips that will maximize the time you spend journaling.
1. Ignore Spelling Mistakes
We live in a world that is constantly correcting us. We take a wrong way on our commute, and Google Maps is there to remind us of our mistake. Social media is right there with you when you wrongly quote a source or say something you shouldn’t. Spell correct greets us daily with its little red line or forced correction! No, iPhone, I’m not saying duck.
We have ample opportunities in our day-to-day lives to concern ourselves with grammar, punctuation and spelling errors… journaling is not one of them.
Constantly correcting spelling mistakes or getting hung up on the proper placement of commas dramatically takes away from your journaling experience. During a hot, steamy journal sess. we’re often swept up in emotions, memories or ideas. By forcing ourselves to focus on spelling, we’re flow-blocking — as in, blocking ourselves from getting in a journaling flow.
Lay your perfectionist flag down while journaling and embrace your 5th-grade writing level — we here at DiveThru certainly do!
2. Keep Your Journal As A Judgement Free Zone
Continually editing your journal entries isn’t the only way you can flow-block yourself. Allowing our judgemental selves to steer the journaling ship also impacts the incredible benefits associated with journaling.
You know that super judgy co-worker? The one who sits back in meetings sneering at everyone and picking apart what everyone shares.
Don’t let yourself transform into that co-worker while journaling.
Allow yourself to write freely. Lay it all out. Write down the shit you have always been afraid of saying. Dish about your most secretive secrets and get real about your deepest insecurities. Get it all out there on the page.
This is easier said than done, yes. But, being aware of your tendency to censor and judge yourself during your journaling sessions will help you break free from the habit.
3. Keep Your Journal Close By
You never know when the mood to journal will strike. By keeping a journal close by, you’ll help yourself get in the habit of turning to your journaling when things come up. Here at DiveThru, whenever we’re facing a creative challenge, our team members turn to their journals. Yup, we truly practice what we preach.
You could go as far as keeping a private at home journal and a work journal. Bring your work journal to work and keep your other one at home stashed away. Whatever you need to feel comfortable about busting it out when the mood moves you.
4. Keep Distractions Minimal
We have all tried to journal while the TV has been on only to get distracted by Tony Stark’s good looks. Wait, is that only our founder’s, Sophie, experience?! Uh… Well… This is awkward.
Regardless of your preference of Avengers, we know what it’s like to slowly look away from our journal and get swept up in whatever’s happening around us. For this reason, it’s vital to ensure you journal in a space or at a time where distractions are limited.
If you’re journaling in the morning or evening at home, turn off the TV or set yourself up in a private room away from whatever’s pulling your attention. If you’re at work, put your headphones on . Retreat to a vacant office. Put a sign on your cubicle that says you’re taking a moment.
Do whatever you can to keep distractions to a minimum.
5. Prepare Your Mind Beforehand
While the TV can be the thing that is stealing your attention, your busy thoughts may be sabotaging your journaling session. I cannot stress enough the importance of adequately preparing your mind before journaling. It can be challenging to transition from the busyness of life into the introspective place that journaling takes you. By dedicating as little as 3 minutes before your journaling session for introspection, you’re allowing your mind to get thoroughly swept up in whatever topic you’re journaling about. To do so, we recommend taking a few breaths before each journaling session to tune into yourself.
While taking a few breaths before your journaling session can prepare your mind, we recommend you take things a bit further. In the DiveThru app, we take you through a guided introspection piece before and after every journaling session. It helps get you in the space to journal and helps you reflect post journaling session, as well. You can download the DiveThru app and get started for free by clicking here.
As I mentioned, you really can’t mess journaling up. However, if you remember to let go of spell checking yourself, leave the judgment at the door, keep a journal close by, keep distractions minimal and prepare your mind beforehand, you’ll get the most out of your journaling practice.
Okay, there you have it, friend! You made it! You now know everything you need to know about journaling. You know what journaling is and the benefits associated with starting a journaling practice. You know the answers to commonly asked questions about journaling and different prompts to get you started. You also know how to start (and stick to) a journaling practice and how to get the most from your practice!
Introducing The DiveThru App
As we said, we’re big fans of journaling – and that’s why we created our very own guided journaling app. When people look to start a journaling practice, they often don’t know what to journal.
That’s where we come in!
We work with mental health professionals to create guided journaling exercises that help you take charge of your mental wellbeing.
Within the DiveThru app, you’ll find over 1000 journaling exercises on a range of topics, from everyday stressors to specific ‘I can’t believe this happened to me’ moments.
Do you still have questions? Our founder, Sophie Gray, would love to answer them for you! You can send her an email at firstname.lastname@example.org!