The term “journaling” often evokes memories of childhood and the days of writing “Dear Diary” in a fabric covered notebook held closed by lock and key. Fast forward to adulthood and that very same journal is now dust-laden and hidden away, long forgotten. If rediscovered, we are transported back to a time when this journal became the place to express our hopes, fears, dreams. Our very best friend….loyal and reliable, a designated, private place to record feelings, thoughts, ideas, experiences, secrets.

The benefits of journaling have been well researched. Journaling represents a haven, a safe and trusted place to express emotions, feelings, and ideas. A best friend who doesn’t judge just listens and accepts. To some the term seems indulgent and even trite, for who has the time to sit, reflect, and write each day?

What is journaling? Quite simply, it can be whatever you want it to be. The materials can be old-school with a bound moleskin notebook and pen or they can be more hi-tech formats with styluses or blog posts. In fact, for the tech-savvy there are many options for digital journals. Apple’s app store shows nearly 2,000 results when searching “journal”. The written or typed word is not even necessary when discussing journaling options. Some use a mixed media approach with magazine cutouts, memorabilia, paints, etc. One word set down can speak volumes.

Why journal? It has proven to be cathartic. We may not feel comfortable expressing our deepest thoughts to a dear friend or spouse for so many reasons. A journal provides that healthy outlet, judgment free. A journal can function in so many ways: listing gratitudes, expressing a secret, planning an event, making observations, hoping, wishing and inspiring.

When and how can we journal? Some journal before turning out the lights before bed or upon waking in the morning. Others carry a journal to record thoughts, ideas, observations during their waking hours.

The key to making a success of journaling is to just let go. Journaling is intended to bring comfort not stress. If you’ve never given journaling a chance, try it. Like many unknown experiences, once you try it you may like it and derive benefits you never imagined.