I gifted journals to my family members this Christmas, but didn't get the opportunity to share why, so thought I'd express myself in this manner instead.
I started journalling mid February of 2018. In all honesty I can't remember who or what exactly encouraged me to do so, but I'm grateful to who/what-ever brought it into my life. At the time I was very much struggling with my mental health, and decided to take action by essentially removing myself from my life and everyday environment - I booked a flight to Sri Lanka leaving a week later, with the intention of taking the time to do some much needed, in-depth self work; part of that work was journalling.
With time to kill at the airport I opened my newly purchased journal for the first time. As someone who is very much an over-thinker and lives in their head a lot I found that I was consistently consumed by thought, especially at that point in my life. I had so many of them going on, with my brain bouncing from one to the next, then back to the previous, without any time to resolve any of them, let alone rest! With a blank page in front of me I took pen to paper to get them out of my head and physically in front of me.
With no agenda or specific direction of what I wanted to write I just expressed whatever was going on in my head at that moment. It began with a sort of confused narration of what I was doing and where I was, but soon developed organically into a lot of the thoughts that had been troubling me, letting everything flow out of me through the pen. Whilst I presumed I'd have trouble with my physical body keeping up with the speed of my mind, in fact I found that my mind slowed to accommodate my physical limitation, and with that slowing on my mind I was actually able to complete a train of thought, as well as find some sort of organisation of those thoughts. The game had indeed changed.
Over that week away I continued to pour out my mind on paper, and in doing so (in addition to the other things I was doing) was able to find not only a clarity of mind, but also an ease - a peace, even. In the same way you might enjoy a love letter, because, even though it's simply words on paper, you can feel the love that was within the writer through those words and on that paper, I think the same can be true for negative expression. Rather than retaining and letting those thoughts fester within, I've found getting them out to be a huge liberation for my mind (and body), as it not only provides an opportunity to express them in a safe way, but provides the circumstance to explore them fully and, when approached in a mindful, responsive (rather than reactive) manner, even deconstruct unhealthy thought patterns and come to a more rational viewpoint on issues.
This is why, since that trip, journalling has become a daily habit for me, being one of the first things I do in the morning after waking up, regardless of where I am and what I'm doing. I make the conscious effort to write at least one page, and include several points of gratitude for that/the previous day, personal positive affirmations/reminders, intentions for the coming day, and anything else that comes to mind. I also have another journal that I'll use less frequently (perhaps once a month, or when I feel like I need it) to conscious-stream so as to get out of my head and calm my mind.
Whilst it can feel tedious, possibly even chore-like or boring at first, I'd certainly recommend it as something to try, and perhaps persevere with. I've found I'm just a lot less troubled, a lot more calm and, dare I say, happy these days, and I attribute that in part to my daily journalling and meditations.