What does it mean to be a man of your word?
Historically, men have been honored and respected in the realm of writing. Authors, poets and prophets were praised for penning their thoughts on paper. We’ve studied their words in school, brought their works to life on stage and adapted their stories for screen. So why is it that the practice of writing in a journal is often miscategorized as a feminine activity?
It is a human activity, a transformative tool free to all. Whether you’re experiencing a peak or a valley, it’s worth the effort to understand the ways that journaling can enhance your existence.
While stigmas around therapy linger—especially for men—conversations around mental health are growing. One common denominator in humanity is that our minds can either clear or cloud the best of us in any given moment. It is our responsibility and privilege to explore our own thoughts in order to navigate our own lives. Through practice and consistency, journaling unlocks practical benefits as well as certain gifts beyond comprehension.
The countless benefits include stress reduction, better sleep, a stronger immune system, increased confidence, peace of mind and more. Ready to put pen to paper?
First, find a comfortable, quiet spot and relax. Sometimes you’ll know exactly what you want to write. Other times, you may feel quite stumped. Trust that whatever you write has a purpose for you.
I view journaling as a conversation with myself. I have paralyzing perfectionism; I tend to struggle with follow-through. In these instances, I’ll listen to the voice of my younger self, then respond as the parental guide I wish I’d had. I create an open dialogue with myself which generally leads me somewhere I need to go. I am gentle yet firm, encouraging yet questioning. By the end of my entry, I feel a weight lifted and clarity follows.
Like anything new, journaling is intimidating. Your words may feel awkward, sloppy and downright cringeworthy. Stick with it. There is no wrong way to do it—the healing is in the habit. If you’re honest with yourself on paper, whatever healing or guidance you need will be revealed and you will grow.
Here are some beginner journaling methods. Find what works for you and let it flow.
Gratitude: Write down things you’re grateful for, allowing your mind to focus on life’s positive aspects. Reflecting on this list defines your priorities, resulting in clearer decision-making.
*If you’re in the throes of depression, this may not come easily. Keep it simple. I’ve been grateful for my hands to hold a pen or my teeth to chew food to nourish me.
Stream of Consciousness: Write down anything and everything that comes to mind. Observing these thoughts without judgment aids in your ability to love yourself wholly.
Sport Journaling: Think of this as reviewing game film in athletics. Life is the game; your memory is the film. Write down your recollection of the day or specific event, then review how you handled yourself. Recognize patterns in your behavior and adjust for desired goals. It’s also important to credit moments of pride!
Art: When words are absent, express yourself in pictures. Draw, doodle or create a mood board of whatever you’re feeling. Let the colors, pictures and textures reflect your inner world.
Line a Day: Simply write one line or sentence each day. It can be your own thoughts, a mantra, a song lyric or a proverb. What emotions do your chosen words evoke and why? In time, a whole page of thought may appear based on your reflections.
Remember this: “Whatever speaks to you, let it speak through you.” That is what journaling is about, the unique voice within us deserving acknowledgment so that it may guide us or create space for thoughts that serve us. Journaling is a powerful tool that unlocks understanding of ourselves. When we gain self-awareness, we are able to more efficiently categorize the noise in our minds, freeing us to lead abundant, purposeful lives.