A journal is a personal record of thoughts, emotions, and experiences that are kept on a regular basis. The idea of recording personal thoughts is ancient one going back centuries. At it’s core keeping a journal is about tracking and de-cluttering your thoughts. It could be a diary, an activity log, an idea tracker, or just a place you use to track important things. People keep journals for different reasons. The benefits of writing in a journal are well documented. Almost any self-help book you read will tell you to start a journal.
Regularly writing in a journal can help us to take the puzzle pieces of our thoughts and feelings and put them together in a logical pattern. Not only are we better able to understand ourselves but the world around us and how we interact with it. With so many benefits it’s no wonder most psychologist will tell you to keep a journal.
Types of Journals
10:35 Gratitude Journal
A simple way to start journaling is to begin by writing down things you are grateful for. You see people do this a lot around the holidays. It’s become popular on social media to post about it. The social media posts are more about sharing though. This is about the personal growth and benefits you get from writing these down.
“It’s become a really popular thing on social media.”
When doing this focus on a few deep things rather than multiple superficial ones. Studies show that the effects of writing about gratitude too often causes them to wear off. So it’s best to only do it once a week or less. Though you want to do it regularly.
12:10 Dream Journal
Keep a notepad or journal beside your bed for writing down your dreams at night. This is best done with pen/pencil and paper. Screens and lights can prevent you from getting back to sleep. Dreams can be fleeting so in order to remember then better write them down just after they happen.
This can provide insight into the subconscious processing going on while you sleep. You may not realize something is important until you dream about it. In addition you could be missing someone or something and dream about them.
14:50 Goal and Values Journal
A goals journal is a place for you to write down your goals and track them. Break them down using the SMART method. Keep a daily or weekly account of your progress toward them. You can start with just a list of goals. Then as you work toward each of them write down the progress you’ve made. You’ll be able to come back and look at how much you’ve accomplished.
Also track what’s in your way and preventing you from reaching your goal or moving forward this week. A good format is the SCRUM stand up for each goal. Done: Write down what you did the previous week toward the goal. Doing: Write down what you plan to do to work toward that goal this week. Impedes: Write down what stands in your way and if it is short or long term.
“Your goals journal is the steps on the stairs and the values journal is the door at the top.”
While goal journals track what you are doing toward SMART goals, value journals track what you are doing toward your personal mission statement. These are done less frequently. They focus on the bigger picture and can include long term goals. Should be separate from the goals journal though.
23:13 Ideas Journal
Ideas come and go quickly so have a small journal or notebook to write them down when you have them. Keep it handy in all sorts of situations. Good ideas come all the time we just don’t take advantage of them. This may be one of your more interesting journals. It’s loosely structured. This is not something you set aside time to work on.
Review it on a regular basis to keep fresh on your ideas. Briefly go over any ideas you’ve written down each day. Once a month or quarter look back at your better ideas and start formulating a plan for accomplishing them.
Mental Health Benefits
27:35 Reduce Stress
Journaling has the same therapeutic effect as talking with a good listener. By putting stress into words it is less likely to take root inside you and run your life. Writing about your emotions helps to release the intensity of these feelings. You will feel calmer and better able to stay in the present.
28:35 Clarify Thoughts and Feelings
Writing your thoughts and feelings will give you insight into your own thought process. By writing routinely you will get to know what makes you feel happy and confident. You will also better identify situations and people who are toxic for you.
29:40 Increase Emotional Intelligence
Emotional Intelligence (EQ) is the ability to perceive and manage your emotions, and that of others. By journaling we are better able to processing our own emotions and increase self-awareness. Increased self-awareness acts as a bridge of empathy, helping to understand others feelings. Increased EQ allows for a much deeper connection with other people.
31:10 Creates Mindfulness
Mindfulness causes you to live in the present. Past frustrations and future anxieties lose their edge in the present moment. Journaling helps pull in a scattered mind and causes you to be an active participant in your own thought process. Writing and reading your journal can be a form of meditation.
34:50 Boosts Self Esteem
“Learn from the past, plan for the future, but live in the present.”
Confidence helps us overcome new challenges and old habits. Low self-esteem causes you to undermine your own ability to improve. Focus on your daily accomplishments! Write down a few positive things about yourself every day.
36:24 Strengthens Relationships
Working through your problems on paper will help you to get the emotions out before confronting others. Emotional honesty increases as you become more self aware from tracking your thoughts and feelings. Identifying toxic people in your life allows you to think about whether they are worth your time and effort.
Physical Health Benefits
39:55 Increases Memory
The more activities you take on the more there is to keep track of and remember. Journaling regularly not only creates a physical log for you but the act of writing things down can improve your ability to remember them. It also prevents you from ruminating on negative thoughts and frees up memory for processing the world around you.
41:05 Improved Immune Function
Regular writing improves not only emotional healing but also improves physical healing. According to research by Dr. James Pennebaker, author of Writing to Heal, improved immune function were found in participants of writing exercises. He claims that journaling strengthens T-lymphocytes, immune cells that fluctuate with stress and anxiety. Studies have also shown that journaling creates an emotional release that lowers anxiety, stress, and improves sleep.
41:50 Lower Blood Pressure
Increase in blood pressure many times is a result of long term exposure to stress and anxiety. As we’ve discussed journaling can help reduce stress and anxiety therefore reducing the causes of high blood pressure. Dr. Pennebaker also found that strengthening T-lymphocytes helps maintain low blood pressure.
42:55 Weight Loss Tracking
If you are trying to lose weight keeping a food journal can help you track and know what you eat and when. It’s especially useful when starting out to get a baseline. This helps you to know where the trouble areas will be. It’s used in behavioral therapy a lot when treating addiction and over eating.
“You want a relational DB and I want a document DB and that’s fine.”
Try to write down your emotions and mood before you eat something (healthy or unhealthy). Knowing what triggers you into reaching for the box of cookies gives you power over it and puts you back in control.
47:40 Improve Exercise Regularity
Lots of people have trouble creating new good habits especially those based around regular exercise. By getting into the habit of journaling daily you’ll make it easier to pick up other habits like exercise. Keeping track of your exercising via a journal will motivate you to keep going. Something about writing it down drives you to keep pushing. Also it prevents you from wanting to fudge the data. You’ll also be able to monitor your successes and better diagnose failures.
49:35 Track Illness and Recovery
Regularly writing can help you track the progress or find out diagnostic information about an illness. You can track things that trigger or make your symptoms worse to find out what to avoid. It can also help you identify the actual cause of symptoms. Doctors and nurses do this in hospitals all the time. Journaling can also be used to track the progress of treatment.
IoT with Python: Essential Packages
This is an article that lists out the essential Python packages to get started building an internet of things device using Python as the language. It includes some familiar ones like tkinter for the GUI and MySQL for the database but it also has some that are designed for data science and analytics. It lists out the packages and shows screen shots along with a description. If you are wanting to get started building something with lots of sensors or taking in large amounts of data Python might be a good option.
Tricks of the Trade
Your inner voice and the outer expression that voice are two different things. Don’t confuse the two. Part of being an adult is NOT barfing your feelings all over the rest of the world just because you have them.