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Hobby Week: Try journaling to help you heal, grow and thrive

Journaling is just the process of writing down your thoughts.

When you first start journaling it can feel a bit laboured, but in a short time it can become a great part of your day, leaving you feeling mentally refreshed.

Surprisingly, though, journaling also has very real physical benefits. Studies show that journaling strengthens immune cells and has been shown to be associated with drops in depression and anxiety, drops in blood pressure, improvements in sleep, and drops in other markers of stress. People go to the doctor less, and studies find greater mobility among people with arthritis.

There are different types of journal – at The Sunshine Box we recommend starting with a gratitude journal where you identify the positives and blessings in your life.

Or you can use journaling to record personal experiences along with an exploration of your inner feelings and reactions to the experiences.

It’s not just the act of processing your thoughts—something you could simply do by thinking about them – that brings about these massive benefits. It’s the act of writing itself that seems to produce the positive results.

Writing accesses your left hemisphere of the brain, which is analytical and rational and while your left brain is occupied, your right brain is free to do what it does best, i.e. create, intuit and feel. In this way, writing removes mental blocks and allows us to use more of our brainpower to better understand ourselves and the world around us.

It can be surprising what we write, but these writings are not for sharing, they are a tool with which to clear some clutter from our minds. You might notice a theme to your writing, and this theme is something you can become aware of and work to understand and change.

So how can you start this process?

Get a lovely journal you will enjoy writing in and a comfortable pen.

The Sunshine Box Journal could be just the thing! It is sunshine yellow, comes with a guide and throughout the journal you will find little cards to suggest things to expand your thinking, ideas to consider and ways to fully utilise your journal.

The journal comes with a hand-made bookmark - it has Howlite or white turquoise beads. Known as the stone of awareness Howlite is thought to give the gift of wisdom and enlightenment. It comes in a beautiful gold drawstring bag, and all this for just £5! Click here to see more or buy.

You can use your computer or tablet, but pen and paper can have measurable benefits over the keyboard. Research shows that hand writing stimulates an area of the brain called the RAS (reticular activating system), which filters and brings clearly to the fore the information you’re focusing on.

An added benefit of writing in pen is that it keeps us from editing our words over time.

BUT, if just can’t get into journaling by pen. That’s okay. Use whatever helps your thoughts to flow the best.

Choose a time limit - more effective journaling comes by setting a time limit for each day that you can reasonably stick to. You might start with 5 minutes for the first week, and then build up to say 15 minutes each day. The only rule is to write continuously.

Don’t expect to be a perfect author - You don’t need to be profound with great insight - you just need to write. Forget spelling, and punctuation, just let it flow!

Don’t edit - if you do you stop to think, which is when you cease to naturally explore and reveal the thoughts in your head. The object of journaling is to write, not think.

Find somewhere comfortable - you need to be left alone for a while and don’t need people asking questions or looking over your shoulder. Some people prefer a public anonymous space like a café, others prefer a quiet room in your house with the door closed or even writing on a park bench.

Keep it private - Find a safe and secure spot for your journal, as you must feel free to write the things you wouldn’t even tell your best friend. This should not be a document for others to judge you - the important thing is that your writing is for you only.

Have a good and see how journaling works for you.

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