Have you ever had the same pesky thoughts go through your head over and over? Do you know why they never seem to stop?
Think about the last meeting you were in. There was a group of people with competing interests and perspectives all vying for attention. It turns out that our minds are much the same. It seems like ‘we’ are a single entity living behind our eyes but the emerging model is much more messy.
These parts of our psyche can keep trying to get our attention, but never experience a sense of being heard unless we verbalize in some external way. That means talking out loud or writing. Writing seems even more powerful because the act of making language into something that our hands do is more involved than speaking.
Thus, the power of journaling. When you journal, you take sensations lurking deep in the unconscious parts of your mind and you let them know that you’ve heard their concerns.
How can you best do this?
My views have evolved through new research and personal experience. In the past many had advised that writing by hand was more effective than typing. Turns out for journaling, the distinction is not important. Handwriting has a slight advantage in note taking because most of us can’t write as fast as we can type. The time delay forces us to process information in real time and quickly create summaries for longhand use whereas typing often captures more verbatim content with less deliberate thinking.
In the past I’ve relished in the feel of a good pen and physical journal but I didn’t like having another thing to keep track of. Plus a journal is personal.
I’ve used the app Day One for years on and off. Once I saw a study verifying that there was no drawback to typing for a journal, I went to it full time. I like it because I can get to it from whatever device I have handy and because my info is secure. It also has a simple interface and can even help remind you to write.
Another big advantage it has over a paper journal is that it can bring back entries from the same day on prior years. It is fascinating to see your thoughts from the past.
If you’re new to journaling, just take 3 minutes each am and evening and jot down a few things that are on the top of your mind. Don’t judge grammar, layout, or organization.
A cue for me to stop is when I start working on a mental to-do list. This is a cue that much of the background chatter has cleared and your mind is more focused on the present. A journal is not the place for tasks, so close it out and move on.
One other thought is to be sure you use a program like f.lux for your computer, or Apple’s Night Shift setting for your phone so you don’t have blue tinged light flashing in your eyes at night.
I don’t want your sleep to get thrown off 🙂
To Your Health,