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  • Writer's pictureSteve Watts

Journaling for wellbeing

‘Writing is the only way I have to explain my own life to myself.’

Maintaining physical and mental wellbeing is so crucial for our health. One approach that is becoming increasingly popular is journaling for wellbeing, as American novelist, Pat Conroy stated above. In order to explore this I ran a journaling workshop last month during the Sunderland Literature Festival (16th October 2019), with a follow-up session on Wednesday this week (13th November 2019).

There are many books and websites that outline the benefits of journaling, including this list from

It helps to clear your thoughts and feelings

It helps you improve your outlook on Life

It helps you get to know yourself better

It helps you better identify your problems

It helps eliminate stress

It helps you become a problem solver

It helps to solve problems

It helps overcome anxiety

It helps you become more empathetic

It helps you put things in perspective

It helps you become more creative

Jacobs (2004, 2018) and Pennebaker and Smyth (2016) cite research which shows that journaling can have a positive effect on a person's mental outlook, as well as their physical wellbeing, even when they are presented with challenging circumstances.

Evidence from the workshop in October and the follow-up session in November suggests that those who commit to writing regularly, even for a short periods at a time, benefit from the experience. One common outcome seems to be that the process of writing down 'corrals' the myriad of random thoughts that flutter around our minds like butterflies, it captures them in one place, pins them down and collects them together. From this, over time, patterns seem to emerge in our writing as we reflect back on what we have written, the thoughts we have 'captured' and through this it is possible that they are not so random as we first thought, but actually form a pattern.

' …one result of [writing] is peace of mind, and a method to relieve emotional experiences. To have to write emotions down helped me understand how I felt and why.’

In the days and weeks ahead I will be exploring the process of journaling for wellbeing further, so to know more follow me ...

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