How Journaling Changed our Lives
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Dave’s Journaling Journey
Journaling has played a huge part in Zentano for many years. Both Rich and Dave have embraced journaling as a tool to increase their productivity and focus, to reduce their stress and anxiety and to drive meaningful personal and business growth.
Journaling has been particularly helpful during this unprecedented period of uncertainty, frustration and anxiety. As many of us find ourselves confined to our homes with our daily routines obliterated many people are struggling to cope with the onslaught of depressing news, lack of structure and reduced social contact. For those in some jobs it might be increased social contact that is driving your worries.
As journaling has been so helpful to the Zentano community, we wanted to share our personal experiences in an effort to spread the incredible benefits journaling can have for you. So, this week we interviewed Rich and Dave to share their personal experiences with journaling and why they think everyone should try it!
This week we have Dave's Journaling Story, click here to read Rich's journaling story
The Catalyst for a Better Life – Dave
A few days ago, I was running an online workshop about resilience with a group of sports people when I was hit with a hard reality that made me reflect on just how keen people are to find ways to manage their frustrations and worries. What I learnt inspired this blog.
Part of the workshop explored increasing your resilience with practical tools. One of the tools I mentioned was journaling – a well-documented and recognised tool that has numerous benefits including stress reduction, combating anxiety and increasing the quality of sleep. All great things for the times in which we’re living.
As I was speaking, I noticed a lot of blank looks. I stopped, and there was a bit of a tumbleweed moment as everyone continued to stare at me looking lost. For a moment I was confused why everyone looked so lost then it hit me hard.
So, I asked “Who has journaled before?” one sheepish looking hand went up.
Then I asked, “Who has heard of journaling?”. Three uncertain hands went up.
There were 17 people in the session.
I was surprised. Journaling has been embedded in my life for many years, my coaching studies introduced me to it early on and it dawned on me that there are many people who do not share my knowledge and understanding of journaling!
Overcoming Uncertainty, Stress and Anxiety
All of the people in this Zoom session were men. My experience is that journaling is far more prevalent in women and this workshop was a striking reminder of just how prevalent that difference may be. I want to share journaling with everyone because of how beneficial it has been to me, but in particular, I want to share it with men.
I am being stereotypical but for many reasons’ men are less likely to journal or conduct any sort of task to explore, identify and cope with their emotions and feelings. This is despite the fact that they are more likely to benefit from journaling when they do it! Mental health issues are on the rise throughout the population and men’s mental health issues often go undetected and unresolved for far too long.
We are all living through a set of life events that we won’t have any experience of dealing with and many of us are suffering. Men are not impervious to the impact of what is happening (why would they be?), and they need to develop the practical skills and tools to cope.
If we are to tackle our mental health crisis as individuals and as a society, we need to be more accepting, open and honest about developing the skills, tools and mindset needed to cope and even thrive in the uncertain world we live in.
Journaling is an accessible way to start developing those skills, all you need is a pen, a piece of paper and a few minutes of your time. It’s not the be-all and end-all but it is a start and has certainly changed my life for the better. You may not have heard of journaling before or feel embarrassed by the idea of wanting or needing to journal, but don’t be. Journaling is a brilliant first step if you feel unable to approach someone to talk about the things you’re thinking and feeling. It’s private, it’s personal but still extremely beneficial.
Journaling for Beginners
Journaling can help provide you with clarity and focus, structure and invaluable reflection time. There are many different ways of journaling and it’s easy to get lost and overwhelmed in the myriad of information. The best thing to do is start small.
- Journal with a pen and paper. The benefits of pen and paper over screens are numerous. First of all, the much-needed break we need to take from our phones, tablets and laptops. Second, handwriting enhances our ability to communicate effectively, deepen and form thoughts, accelerate learning and recognise patterns. I use images and colours as well as words when I journal, engaging more of my brain in the process.
- Try to journal at least once a day. Regular entries will help you keep track of how you’re feeling and what you’re experiencing and make sense of it. It will also keep your mind decluttered. Set reminders on your phone if you have to or set aside a time in the morning or evening to decant all your thoughts.
- Write everything and anything. Your journal is completely personal to you, write everything and anything you want. It doesn’t have to be objectively valuable; journaling is just a time to reflect on your thoughts and experiences. Part of my journaling is about what I had for tea because I have been embedding some lifestyle changes and it just helps keep me focused!
- Look up prompts. If you’re struggling to get anything on the page, Google some journaling prompts to get your mind flowing. Relationships, friends, work, learning, health and gratitude are common examples to get you started.
If you do want to explore journaling, there are two books I would recommend;
The Bullet Journal Method – This is more of a structure for journaling as it not only talks about the practice of “traditional” reflective journaling, but it also combines it with a calendar/to-do-list type system. It’s completely customisable and you can work it to fit your lifestyle and glean all its benefits. This is an ideal starting point for people who need journaling not only for reflection but for structure and focus.
The Reflective Journal – This book focuses on the more traditional style of journaling where you write down your thoughts, feelings and experiences. It delves into the how’s and whys. Reflective Journaling can be combined with Bullet Journaling.
It is not too bold a statement to say that journaling has positively impacted my life in many ways. It has helped me change habits, improve my well-being (physical and mental) and been a catalyst for business growth. I combine both Bullet Journaling and reflective journaling because it provides me with structure and clarity for my day-to-day routine plus invaluable reflection time that allows me to address, explore and understand what I am experiencing and how to respond to it.
Journaling can take many forms; these are just the types we’ve found particularly useful for us. Some of the Zentano team find Gratitude Journaling to be ineffective but Bullet Journaling to be great. Others can’t stick to Bullet Journaling but love Reflective journaling – we’re all different.
We’d recommend everyone try journaling at least once. Commit to it for a few days or weeks, play around with different types of journaling (bullet journaling, gratitude journaling, reflective journaling, illustrative discovery journaling) and experiment.
Find what feels good for you, you might be surprised.
Click here to see Rich's journaling story