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What I've Learned From Journaling Every Day for 3 Months

Since October 2023, I have been journaling every day. (Okay, to be fully transparent: I have missed a few days, mostly on the weekends. But, still.) 

I didn’t intend to do this. Of course, I have always been informed of the benefits of journaling, and the calming effect it can bring. For years, I have explored different journaling practices. I’ve experimented with gratitude journals, manifesting journals, morning pages (free-writing three pages each morning), and of course, I have journaled now and again throughout my life. But, a habit never truly stuck; I only journaled when I felt inclined to release some emotions, and didn’t know how else to do so beyond writing.

That’s exactly what happened to transpire this journey. At my previous job, I had a beloved coworker named Denise, who I looked forward to seeing and visiting with each day. She was the office janitor. We bonded over our love for cats, swimming, and general excitement toward life. My office environment was quiet and quite tense, and loud voices pounded from the conference rooms throughout the day. Everyone worked with their heads down, in quite a hurry, including me.

So, to see Denise each day flooded me with such joy! Her smile alone was a breath of fresh air. Each day, we shared our quick, 20-minute lunch break and caught up on her sons, my wedding planning, and our previous evenings. As a social person, it was always so pleasant to talk with her, and I treasured those daily moments amongst the chaos that my work day typically ensued. 

Then, a tragedy happened. I showed up to work one day to find out that, for a reason, I won’t disclose, Denise had been let go from the company. I was devastated when I heard the news. Others mumbled their disappointment, but to my surprise, this tipped me over an edge that I hadn’t realized I was standing on. I raced to the bathroom to cry, realizing just how unhappy I was. Without the bright light that was Denise, I realized how cold and gray my day-to-day was. For some reason, this made me so deeply sad for days to come, and it was difficult to hold back my tears while I completed my work.

I didn’t even get her phone number.

That evening, I decided to journal. I wrote intensively about my sadness, and my frustration, and felt the release that followed. My shoulders relaxed, my body less tense. I decided, thereafter, to journal each day until I felt better. 

I was laid off from my job about two weeks later. Strange timing, am I right? Thankfully, I had adopted a journaling practice at the same time and knew I had an extensive healing journey on my horizon. Without meaning to, I developed a journaling habit. 

The Benefits of Journaling

Just like creative writing, journaling has many benefits, especially with pen on paper. The mere act of physical writing can improve brain function, such as memory, focus, and emotional regulation, and can help with processing feelings and memories. 

There are many people online who pride in the fact that they journal daily, and invite everyone to participate as well. The benefits are clear; journaling is a regular habit that we should all partake in. However, when I read these blogs online, the idea of journaling never really stuck. It wasn’t until I practiced it consistently myself that I truly saw an impact.

For me, when I journal, I feel an immense calming effect. It’s the same sensation that floods me when I finish a long run or a swim, but also, it’s different. It’s as though my mind has temporarily emptied, and I can process my thoughts easier. Journaling may relieve anxiety because when your problems and emotions are laid out in front of you on paper, they appear more manageable. No longer are they floating around in your mind, these seemingly frantic ideas and concepts, but they are visible and made clear. 

If you have been feeling stressed lately, or perhaps are undergoing a sad situation similar to the one I shared above, then maybe give journaling a try, and see how it works for you. Turn on some calming music, switch your phone on do-not-disturb, set a timer for five to fifteen minutes, and let everything go.

If you’re not yet convinced, let’s dive into what I’ve personally taken from my 90 days of journaling.

What I’ve Learned From Journaling 

What began as a way to process heavy emotions evolved into a transformative practice that I rely on daily to explore my emotions. Most mornings, while my coffee is brewing (a.k.a. before I do anything else), I jot down my thoughts. My plan for that day, events from the day prior, and my goals and intentions for the coming months. My fears, my aspirations, my successes, my uncertainties. Because my life has looked different as of late, this has helped me a lot in undergoing this strange period. 

While it won’t ever fully replace it, of course, journaling served as my therapy for some time. I was able to rely on myself and tap into my own resilience to propel myself through difficult times, such as saying goodbye, unexpectedly, to Denise, and then my job.

Transparently, my journal began as a manifestation journal; I was constantly focusing on what I wanted out of my life and trying to pry myself out of my mindset of lack. While I was able to bring a few things to fruition, such as receiving unexpected refunds and being approved out of moving fees, the most impactful part of the process was the act of writing my feelings, which were mostly negative. While manifesting helped me remain hopeful, general journaling reminded me that I am only human. 

For most of my life, I was led to believe that focusing on the negative was bad, or wrong. While journaling in the past, I ensured I wasn’t being too negative—even in my diary! When in actuality, being “negative” allowed me to truly decipher what was going on internally so that I could work to make a positive change. I no longer force positive thinking and allow myself to explore what I need to. On the days that are especially difficult, I allow myself to be as authentic as possible. 

My routine is simple. I merely free-write for as long as I can. I imagine that I am emptying my mind, my chest, and my gut, of all the frantic energy that has been bubbling up inside, stored in different areas of my body. I am a well, and the water pours out of me and onto the page. There is no special topic, no goal in particular. My journaling sessions serve as quality time with myself, and I.

I have also been incorporating daily meditation and yoga in addition to this, which I plan to solidify just as I have done with journaling. The quality of my life has improved significantly since incorporating regular silence and stillness on my mat. I do plan to write about this, too, down the line.

How to Start Journaling

Choose a journal, one that you particularly love. I enjoy smaller journals; they are less intimidating. Choose a time that works best for you, in the morning or the evening. I prefer the morning when my mind is fresh. At night is when I enjoy yoga, to physically process my feelings. 

As mentioned before, switch your phone on do-not-disturb, ensure your practice will be uninterrupted, and set a timer. Or, aim to fill out one page, maybe two. The worst thing you can do is get on your phone while writing (a habit I am admittedly bad at doing). This should serve as uninterrupted, quality time with yourself and your mind.

Once you finish journaling, I invite you to take five deep, full breaths, and experience the release. 

Over time, your endurance will strengthen, and you’ll be able to write for longer. Right now, I don’t write for any longer than fifteen minutes.

I do hope my journaling experience has been helpful. Journaling may not drastically change your life, nor provide any transformative guidance toward your ultimate destiny. But, it may provide clarity, ease, and a form of comfort, as it did for me.

With a busy mind, and many opinions from others, it can be easy to feel overwhelmed by decisions and different paths. But through journaling, I can easily tap into my intuition now, something I previously struggled with.

Do you journal? If so, what has it taught you? I look forward to hearing from you!

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