Articles

Walk the Five Paths of Journaling

Rebecca Kochenderfer

10/28/2019

Journaling lets us travel across wide-ranging landscapes and through wild terrain. We think of this adventure as a guided tour down five paths leading toward improved:

  • emotional well-being
  • creativity
  • productivity
  • physical health
  • mindfulness

The Path Toward Emotional Well-Being

Therapeutic journaling, also referred to as expressive writing, is proven to help navigate depression and anxiety and improve our overall emotional well-being.

Journalers walking the path toward emotional well-being are able to:

  • Practice gratitude. Journaling provides an opportunity to regularly evaluate what’s working well in our lives. Periodic reflection on successes leads to a more hopeful and positive outlook.  
  • Be in the here and now. When we live each moment deeply, we are happier.
    Tuning into our five senses and writing down what hear, see, and feel, helps us connect with moments in more meaningful ways.
  • Practice affirmative writing that inspires resilience. Journaling gives us the chance to cultivate self-forgiveness. Rewriting our narrative helps us to change the stories we tell about ourselves. 

The Creativity Path

Journaling helps catch and cultivate bold ideas. It inspires the emotional resilience that’s required to navigate a life committed to creativity.

Poetry, travel, and art journaling are examples of methods that help nurture our creative spirit. If you are more at ease with a pen and paper than paintbrushes and canvas, discover how uplifting it is to wander from your comfort zone and experiment with new methods.

Journalers on the creativity path:

  • gain new perspective from novel vantage points.
  • ease tension through creative forms of expression like experimental poetry or soothing art techniques such as pattern studies.
  • quiet their thinking and make space for imagination.

The Productivity Path

Productivity journaling helps evaluate priorities so you spend more time engaging with the people, activities, and work that brings deep meaning and joy. On this path, we ask the question why we do the tasks we do each day? In response, we grow more selective in choosing which tasks we’ll commit to.

In our interview with Ryder Carroll, creator of the wildly popular Bullet Journal, he asks “what if the task-list were to become part of an “existential” exploration that assesses the quality of experiences that fill our days?” We love this idea and the fact that journaling helps us to achieve this mindset.

Journalers on the productivity path ask:

  • How do the tasks on my to-do list make me feel?
  • Which of these responsibilities do I want more or less of in my life?
  • Of the tasks I completed today, which ones were essential? Which provided fulfillment, pleasure, and meaning?
  • Which of the items on my list could be eliminated without any negative consequences?

We are a culture on auto pilot trying to accomplish an infinite list of tasks. Journaling helps streamline task lists so they become a reflection of the life we want to cultivate.

The Path Toward Physical Health

Since the 1980s, social psychologist Dr. James Pennebaker has been a pioneer in the field of expressive writing. His research shows that those who journal experience:

  • stronger immune health
  • better sleep habits
  • improved mental health
  • regulated blood pressure
  • reduction in pain caused by chronic disease

And, a 2008 study by researchers from Kaiser Permanente Center for Health Research revealed that people who keep a weight loss journal were more likely to achieve and maintain their health goals. 

Journaling establishes new communication lines between our brains and our bodies by giving us space to check in and evaluate our physical health and comfort. As this communication pattern deepens, it’s possible to interact with your body in the spirit of teamwork.

Journalers on the path toward physical health:

  • check in regularly to hear what pain their bodies are attempting to communicate and to hear what care they are asking to receive.
  • connect and communicate with their bodies in a voice that is patient, forgiving, and compassionate.

Over and over at Journaling.com, we’ve seen the myriad of ways that journaling helps achieve health and wellness goals.

The Path Toward Mindfulness

Journaling gifts us with quiet moments to pause for reflection. The chance to cultivate mindfulness changes the tempo of our days giving them new color, shape, and direction.

A journaling practice with an eye toward mindfulness has the power to:

  • broaden perspective and cultivate acceptance.
  • neutralize counterproductive emotions.
  • help us live life moment by moment.

Journalers on the path toward mindfulness:

  • experiment with new writing styles in order to exercise different parts of the brain and to train the mind to express and examine internal processes.
  • bring meditation to their writing practice. Mindfulness expert and a recent guest at Journaling.com, Beth Jacobs recommends beginning a session in a relaxed pose. Concentrate on breathing. Keep a journal or computer nearby. Every time your mind wanders from breathing, jot down your thought as a note, word, or brief phrase. The thought you write might be a worry, a bodily sensation, or a task you need to finish. You’ll end up with an informative list containing themes to explore.

It is often said that it’s the journey not the destination that matters in life. Journaling is a reliable tool to guide you on your journey and along whatever paths you find yourself walking. Happy travels!


Rebecca Kochenderfer

Founder of Journaling.com

About Rebecca Kochenderfer

Rebecca Kochenderfer is Journaling.com’s founder and host. She is the author of Joy Journal, an uplifting collection of journaling tips and techniques. Rebecca is honored to hold this space for the journaling community to connect, thrive, and grow. Fellow journalers can connect with Rebecca at  [email protected] or on Facebook and send her questions and stories about their own journaling experience. For press and advertising inquiries contact here.