Our minds are a vast place where many thoughts, ideas and sometimes worries can reside. For many people, thoughts, ideas and worries often go relatively unnoticed, pass through quickly or feel part of a normal day. At other times, the things going through our minds can feel chaotic, disorganized, distracting and messy. One good technique for organizing our thoughts and feelings is journaling. Journaling is the act of writing down the things you are thinking and feeling. The physical act of writing is organizing. It also helps deflate how nervous or uncomfortable we feel about our thoughts. Oftentimes when we ruminate (think about something again and again), or think about something for a long time, the importance or impact of the problem can start to seem exaggerated. Writing thoughts down and confronting them, face-to-face, helps us contain the concerns and tends to make them less chaotic and scary. Putting thoughts and feelings into words, sentences and paragraphs helps us focus the issues. If we can express something clearly we can think about it more clearly and often take productive steps to solve the problem.
Journaling can take multiple forms. You can use a classic small notebook with a lock and key and start each page with “Dear Diary.” However, journaling is just as effective if you write entries on your computer, in the notes on your phone, send them in an e-mail to yourself, write thoughts down on a post-it or in your planner. It doesn’t matter what it looks like, the benefit comes from the act of taking the thoughts that are in your head and organizing them outside of your head on paper or on the screen.