The Lost Art of Journaling Ft. Journify

Sam Gibson

Sam Gibson

The words journal and diary are effectively synonymous with the subtle distinction of journaling being more about the exploration of ideas and feelings, more reflective. Whilst a diary is more about recording events, more objective in a sense. Likely originating thousands of years ago, potentially as soon as people had the capability to record information. It is likely that we do not know the first person to embark upon this noble pursuit and that their transcriptions have been lost over time. Practiced by commoners and royalty alike, journaling is an activity that spans millennia, occupation and class.

One of the earliest and most notable examples is that of Marcus Aurelius. The Roman Emperor who is perhaps the most famous proponent of the ancient philosophy called stoicism. He committed his deepest thoughts to paper in 167 A.D. These personal musings of his we now know as the book Meditations. His insights here have taught and inspired people throughout the ages. The list of remarkably famous people that practiced journaling goes on: Isaac Newton, Abraham Lincoln, Leonardo Da Vinci, Charles Franklin, Ernest Hemingway and Maya Angelou to name but a few. Whilst I am not claiming that their dedication to journaling is the only habit or trait binding them together in their shared success, it does serve as evidence of this being a worthwhile endeavour.

A statue of Marcus Aurelius in Rome.

It is only fairly recently that the therapeutic potential of journaling and reflective writing has come into public awareness. A psychologist named Dr Progoff began offering workshops on what he called the intensive journal method in the 1960s. Many schools began to use journals in English classes in an academic context but many teachers noticed, alongside the educational advantages, the positive byproduct of therapeutic benefits. From the 1990s onwards journaling has become more public as blogging, vlogging, Facebook, Instagram and Twitter have entered the fold. A practice that often involves disclosing some of the most intimate details of our life is becoming more public. Journaling has always had a dichotomy in aim to some extent, the desire to express yourself and make your thoughts visible coupled with the urge to keep these thoughts secret. For some (perhaps most), there is in modern times an urge to reveal large parts of your life through digital platforms, rather than conceal them in a hidden journal. The extent to which you publicize your life, including your thoughts and feelings is a personal choice that every one of us makes whether we think about it much or not.

So why should I journal?

There are a whole host of reasons why you should journal and a whole host of different ways to journal to try and focus on different goals. For example, some may want to attain personal growth, yearning after increases in productivity. Some may want to boost their creativity, exploring and reflecting on concepts and ideas. Others may want to home in on the therapeutic benefits, tailoring their practice to focus on emotions, wellbeing and mental health.

Some potential benefits of journaling consistently

1. Reduces stress- Can be used to quiet a busy mind. If you write your thoughts out, what’s worrying you, potential solutions, this can help you reduce anxiety and stress and gain some valuable perspective on whatever situation you find yourself in.

2. Improves physical health- studies have shown that participants that regularly journal are rewarded with unexpected health benefits such as lower blood pressure and improved liver functionality. Some researchers claim that is can even positively impact your immune system.

3. Improves Mood- it has been found that depression scores improve in certain populations after journaling for just a month.

4. Cognitive Improvements- Can boost memory, comprehension and working memory capacity.5. Strengthens emotional functions- Journaling often evokes the quality of mindfulness which can help individuals in the face of adversity and change, letting them observe their emotions whilst maintaining a more objective view of the situation.

5. Strengthens emotional functions- Journaling often evokes the quality of mindfulness which can help individuals in the face of adversity and change, letting them observe their emotions whilst maintaining a more objective view of the situation.

6. Improves Creativity- writing uses the left hemisphere of your brain which is the rational brain. This frees up your right hemisphere to freely create, feel and intuit.

My experience journaling ft our collaborators Journify!

Prior to a few weeks ago my experience with journaling was minimal, occasionally writing thoughts and feelings but mainly just using writing to prioritize goals on to do lists and to record the day’s events in quite an objective manner. Recently I have started using Journify to record my thoughts and feelings. Journify is an easy to use audio journaling app where you record yourself speaking, title the audio file and can add tags to categorize and reference the main themes you talked about. Then you can search for a tag such as “happy” or “anxious” and can listen back (or read back with transcripts of your audio file) to all previous recordings with that tag.

The benefits of audio journaling as opposed to writing are that it can be easier and faster than writing, granting you the ability to think out loud and brainstorm in real time. It also means, assuming you take your phone with you everywhere as most of us do, you can journal any place, any time and don’t have to carry pen and paper with you. Some people, though, find the act of putting pen to paper therapeutic so still prefer the old-fashioned method of keeping a notepad. In the last couple of weeks I have been audio journaling in the daytime and then using a notepad both before bed and if I can’t sleep, so I don’t potentially damage the likelihood of getting to sleep quickly by looking at my phone screen. This routine has been working well for me and I intend to continue.

Whatever format or style of journaling appeals most to you then I would definitely recommend it. It has helped me gain some more control over my life which has been very helpful for my personal health issues in the recent past and I hope it continues to be so. Big Love, Sam xx

Tunes that sum up this blog:

On My Mind-Jorja Smith X Preditah: Huge tune, thought of it for  this blog because when I journal before bed i’m trying to get what’s on my mind down on paper and calm my inner chatter somewhat.

Something To Feel Good About-Will Joseph Cook: Reminds me of  gratitude journaling or similar practices. Recording and acknowledging things that have gone well that day, that you can feel good about.