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Writing und Journaling

Writing is more than just jotting down thoughts on paper. It is a powerful and now well-researched tool to give yourself support in challenging times, oh well, always. Because we all have pen and paper at home, I would like to introduce you to this tool and give you useful information so that you can start using it today if you are also looking for inner clarity.







Definition of terms: journaling, expressive writing, diary


Before we really get started, I would like to briefly clear up a little confusion of terms. The words diary and journaling are often used interchangeably and the boundaries are actually fluid. But because everything here revolves around the topic of clarity, I would like to create that here too.


Many people (including me) understand journaling to be the free writing of thoughts, feelings, associations - everything that comes to mind is written down. It's like thinking on paper. The diary, on the other hand, often serves to describe and reflect on experiences. This is primarily about documenting events or experiences, while journaling is used for reflection and thought exploration.


Expressive writing is a method very similar to journaling. The term was coined by psychologist James Pennebaker in the 1980s. Expressive writing involves writing down thoughts and feelings about a traumatic or emotionally stressful event for 15 to 20 minutes each on three to five consecutive days (Pennebaker, 1997). In contrast to journaling, the focus is on a central event. In his original study from 1986, Pennebaker was able to demonstrate numerous positive effects of extensive writing. (Pennebaker, 1997).


Why journaling?


The positive effects of writing have been scientifically proven, including by James Pennebaker. Writing slows down the thought process. We gain a distance from our thoughts and worries and can actively twist and turn them. This creates a space for reflection. A (new) structure automatically emerges that can provide inner clarity.


Not just exploring, but also naming thoughts and feelings on the lines can lead to stress reduction and emotional relief. So-called negative feelings in particular, such as fear or anger, can be explored on the pages and thus made more tangible.


The pages are a safe place for our self-expression. Who am I, what concerns me, what do I want, how do I encounter the world? All of these questions can be explored and tried out. Thought games, ideas, and risks are possible and are a first step towards a self-determined life.


Setting goals and the path to achieving your desired idea is also much easier once you have written it down. Where am I, where do I want to go, how do I get there? Writing helps us visualize our dreams and plan the steps to achieve them.


How to start?






Essentially, there is no right or wrong when writing. If you can, make yourself comfortable. Make yourself some tea, make sure you are undisturbed. It doesn't have to be three pages or half an hour that you allocate yourself straight away. Five to ten minutes is also great.


It is advisable to put your thoughts down on paper by hand, as this addresses different areas of the brain than typing on a laptop. Holding the pen in your hand also calms the amygdala, the fear center, positively. The reduction of stress and anxiety can be supported even more.


Do you already have a pen and notebook ready? Then it helps to just start. Be it with the sentence, "Phew, I don't know what to write" or "So this is the first sentence..." everything that comes is exactly right. Write without any claim to style or aesthetics. This is about exploring your thoughts, not about putting the next bestseller on paper.


Be gentle with yourself if you can't maintain a routine that has been imposed on you. This is completely normal and not a problem at all. Maybe there were other changes needed to make it easier for you?


It's worth a try


Journaling is worth a try. Of course, only you can decide for yourself whether it is a tool that will help you in your everyday life.


I regularly share journaling offers, impulses and information about journaling on my Instagram channel. Simply drop by!


You'll soon find out more about my journaling circles here. I keep you updated!

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