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Keeping A Journal Now Will Change Your Life Later. Here’s Why.

Keeping A Journal Now Will Change Your Life Later. Here’s Why.

When we talk about journaling here, we’re talking about one of those old-school journals made of paper in which you write with a pen, pencil, or assortment of coloured markers. Many of us have grown accustomed to communicating solely through text, but keeping a paper-based journal is actually very nurturing to the soul, and can be a long-term record of your thoughts and emotions far after your computer has died and your Cloud storage has been compromised.

There are numerous benefits to journaling that go far beyond greater hand-eye coordination and improved penmanship. Let’s take a look at a few of them:

1. Stress Release

In our hectic daily lives, it seems as though we’re constantly in motion. From the moment we wake to the moment we fall asleep, life is a huge flurry of activity: personal care, commuting to work, dealing with the job, commuting home, cooking, cleaning, family time, lather/rinse/repeat.

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Dedicating a few minutes each day to sitting down and writing in your journal—even if it’s just half a page or so—allows you to be entirely in the moment as you collect your thoughts and commit them to paper. When you write something out by hand, your breathing automatically slows and regulates itself, you’re forced to be quite still so your pen doesn’t skid all over the place, and your thoughts aren’t allowed to wander away from the task at hand. You might be amazed at what a few minutes of stillness can do to alleviate your stress levels and help your overall sense of well-being.

2. Idea Catcher and Inspiration Notebook

Brilliant ideas and moments of inspiration tend to come out of nowhere, and if we don’t write them down when they arise, we run the risk of forgetting about them. If you keep a journal with you at all times, you can jot down these ideas as they spring up—even if it’s just a sentence or drawing that captures the essence of what popped into your head.

Keeping the journal by your bed at night is also perfect for the ideas or images that may appear in your dreams. Socrates, Hildegard von Bingen, Michelangelo, Dali, and Charlotte Bronte are just a few famous people whose works were inspired by dreams; who knows what yours might manifest as if you manage to keep track of them?

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3. It’s a Judgment-Free Zone

You can write whatever you like, and no-one is going to judge you for it. This is a sacred space for you to pour our your deepest, darkest secrets, woes, fears, joys, and more, safe in the knowledge that it’s all absolutely okay. Getting it all out on paper might even bring some clarity and focus to things that have been bothering you, thus allowing you to work through them. You might come to major epiphanies, or even just gather the strength to approach others with things that may need to be acknowledged aloud.

4. You Can “Scream” in Text, and Nobody Needs to Hear You

A journal can be the ideal place to vent all the frustrations that you’re forced to hold back from yelling about for the sake of others. Is your boss driving you insane? Write down the idiotic things they did to irk you today, and then slam the book shut. Did your kids do something truly reprehensible, but you had to play the part of the tolerant, patient parent and not rip their hair out? Write it all down: it’ll be great material to remind them of when they have kids of their own.

Putting all of this down on paper is immensely cathartic, as it gives you the opportunity to let out all of your negative, and thus let it go.

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5. Uninhibited Creativity

Remember that a journal doesn’t have to be solely comprised of words written on paper: a journal can also include collages, drawings, mini paintings, and more. Instead of a standard paper-based journal, you can use a heavy-duty scrapbook and add in all manner of things that you find interesting.

Journal Page
    Photo by Frances, via Flickr

    6. It Can Help You Achieve a Goal

    Do you have a project or goal that you’d like to pursue, but are having trouble moving towards it? A journal can be an invaluable friend that can help motivate you and keep you on track. Whether your goal is to change careers, redecorate your house, run a half marathon, or write a novel, dedicate a large notebook to it and write in it whenever the whim strikes you. Write down your moments of doubt as well as your mini successes: did you manage to write a thousand words today? Excellent! Make note of how you managed to focus, and how great you felt. Did you strike out with sending out resumes and letters of inquiry? Reassure yourself that things will be better tomorrow, and that the only way to fail is not to try at all.

    You can even skip ahead several pages and write random notes of encouragement to yourself—it might boost your spirits when you’re having an off day and you open a page that begins with “I believe in ME”, or a similar affirmation.

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    7. Appreciation of Silence, and Authenticity

    When you write in your journal, make sure that you’re doing so without distractions such as TV, radio, Netflix, or some raging death metal MP3s in the background. Many people are uncomfortable in silence, but it’s in silent stillness that we’re forced to be truly honest with ourselves… and in turn, our journaling will be more authentic as a result.

    Before you put pen to paper, take a few deep breaths and just sit in the silence. Then, let your thoughts move freely from mind to journal: you may be surprised at what forms there.

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    Last Updated on March 13, 2019

    How to Get out of a Rut: 12 Useful Ways to Get Unstuck

    How to Get out of a Rut: 12 Useful Ways to Get Unstuck

    Have you gotten into a rut before? Or are you in a rut right now?

    You know you’re in a rut when you run out of ideas and inspiration. I personally see a rut as a productivity vacuum. It might very well be a reason why you aren’t getting results. Even as you spend more time on your work, you can’t seem to get anything constructive done. While I’m normally productive, I get into occasional ruts (especially when I’ve been working back-to-back without rest). During those times, I can spend an entire day in front of the computer and get nothing done. It can be quite frustrating.

    Over time, I have tried and found several methods that are helpful to pull me out of a rut. If you experience ruts too, whether as a working professional, a writer, a blogger, a student or other work, you will find these useful. Here are 12 of my personal tips to get out of ruts:

    1. Work on the small tasks.

    When you are in a rut, tackle it by starting small. Clear away your smaller tasks which have been piling up. Reply to your emails, organize your documents, declutter your work space, and reply to private messages.

    Whenever I finish doing that, I generate a positive momentum which I bring forward to my work.

    2. Take a break from your work desk.

    Get yourself away from your desk and go take a walk. Go to the washroom, walk around the office, go out and get a snack.

    Your mind is too bogged down and needs some airing. Sometimes I get new ideas right after I walk away from my computer.

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    3. Upgrade yourself

    Take the down time to upgrade yourself. Go to a seminar. Read up on new materials (#7). Pick up a new language. Or any of the 42 ways here to improve yourself.

    The modern computer uses different typefaces because Steve Jobs dropped in on a calligraphy class back in college. How’s that for inspiration?

    4. Talk to a friend.

    Talk to someone and get your mind off work for a while.

    Talk about anything, from casual chatting to a deep conversation about something you really care about. You will be surprised at how the short encounter can be rejuvenating in its own way.

    5. Forget about trying to be perfect.

    If you are in a rut, the last thing you want to do is step on your own toes with perfectionist tendencies.

    Just start small. Do what you can, at your own pace. Let yourself make mistakes.

    Soon, a little trickle of inspiration will come. And then it’ll build up with more trickles. Before you know it, you have a whole stream of ideas.

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    6. Paint a vision to work towards.

    If you are continuously getting in a rut with your work, maybe there’s no vision inspiring you to move forward.

    Think about why you are doing this, and what you are doing it for. What is the end vision in mind?

    Make it as vivid as possible. Make sure it’s a vision that inspires you and use that to trigger you to action.

    7. Read a book (or blog).

    The things we read are like food to our brain. If you are out of ideas, it’s time to feed your brain with great materials.

    Here’s a list of 40 books you can start off with. Stock your browser with only the feeds of high quality blogs, such as Lifehack.org, DumbLittleMan, Seth Godin’s Blog, Tim Ferris’ Blog, Zen Habits or The Personal Excellence Blog.

    Check out the best selling books; those are generally packed with great wisdom.

    8. Have a quick nap.

    If you are at home, take a quick nap for about 20-30 minutes. This clears up your mind and gives you a quick boost. Nothing quite like starting off on a fresh start after catching up on sleep.

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    9. Remember why you are doing this.

    Sometimes we lose sight of why we do what we do, and after a while we become jaded. A quick refresher on why you even started on this project will help.

    What were you thinking when you thought of doing this? Retrace your thoughts back to that moment. Recall why you are doing this. Then reconnect with your muse.

    10. Find some competition.

    Nothing quite like healthy competition to spur us forward. If you are out of ideas, then check up on what people are doing in your space.

    Colleagues at work, competitors in the industry, competitors’ products and websites, networking conventions.. you get the drill.

    11. Go exercise.

    Since you are not making headway at work, might as well spend the time shaping yourself up.

    Sometimes we work so much that we neglect our health and fitness. Go jog, swim, cycle, whichever exercise you prefer.

    As you improve your physical health, your mental health will improve, too. The different facets of ourselves are all interlinked.

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    Here’re 15 Tips to Restart the Exercise Habit (and How to Keep It).

    12. Take a good break.

    Ruts are usually signs that you have been working too long and too hard. It’s time to get a break.

    Beyond the quick tips above, arrange for a 1-day or 2-days of break from your work. Don’t check your (work) emails or do anything work-related. Relax and do your favorite activities. You will return to your work recharged and ready to start.

    Contrary to popular belief, the world will not end from taking a break from your work. In fact, you will be much more ready to make an impact after proper rest. My best ideas and inspiration always hit me whenever I’m away from my work.

    Take a look at this to learn the importance of rest: The Importance of Scheduling Downtime

    More Resources About Getting out of a Rut

    Featured photo credit: Joshua Earle via unsplash.com

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