Before leaving the UK and heading to Taiwan I had to have a massive clear out of the tit and tat I had accrued in a lifetime of casual hoarding. There were half-broken ornaments from various travels to and fro, loyalty cards to cafés that were eaten by the recession, sticky notes of to do lists I had consigned to the wasteland at the back of the drawer; it was jumble and detritus.
I had justified keeping these things as mementos, tokens and idols of other times, as I had convinced myself that these things had intrinsic value that somehow stored and protected memories that would otherwise vanish. Staring at each item with vague despondency, I scratched my head and mumbled ‘where did this come from?’ and ‘who would keep this?’
But, I also found my old journals. I discovered secrets I had buried. Did you know that grandma Joy did confiscate my favourite jumper on Christmas ’95 and that was the last time I saw it? I had forgotten that the sink in the upstairs toilet was obliterated by a drunken older sister, not by a decorating accident, as claimed by her.
Though the objects littering my room were trying hard, the journal had them beat. If it’s memory retention you want, look no further than the trusty journal.
Many great people have kept diaries; Winston Churchill, Anne Frank, Theodore Roosevelt, Silvia Plath, … the list goes on. Of course, where would we be without Bridget Jones and the Princess Diaries? Perhaps the last point is not so clear, or perhaps it’s the clincher.
However you choose to spin it, the power of journals cannot be ignored. And whether you’re a writer looking to track ideas or a nanny trying to monitor behaviour patterns, journalling could change your life.
So, here’s the Itchy Quill run down of why you should start a journal in 2015.
1. It can keep you in touch with yourself
Sometimes in a world of chaos and distraction it can be easy to forget who we really are. Sometimes we act in certain ways that seem illogical and out of character. Keeping a journal gives you the opportunity to dissect those moments. It can also give you a peek at what thoughts are recurring for you, and which situations or people are good and bad for you to be around.
2. It helps to relieve stress
There are a multitude of studies that have shown a connection between keeping a journal and reduced stress levels, and it seems obvious when you think about it. Keeping a journal gives you a constant, routine opportunity to vent and process. Without the worry of offending someone with your frustration, you can be completely honest and (if you journal before bed) it can help you hit reset, ready for the next day.
3. You’ll be joining a neat club
As said before, some very famous people from different fields and occupations have kept journals. Idols such as Kurt Cobain, Benjamin Franklin, Charles Darwin, Thomas Eddison and Andy Warhol; these people all kept diaries, and it worked out pretty well for them, right?
4. It makes you immortal
The world population is touching around 7 billion at the moment, and studies suggest it is going to keep climbing until at least 2050. Think of all the people that will come and go from our planet in that time, and then think about how many will be forgotten. Think about how many have already been forgotten. Keeping a journal grants you immortality, giving you the chance to leave your mark on the world forever.
5. It’s a time capsule, too
Leaving a journal behind gives the next generations of your family a chance to connect with you, long after you are gone. It affords them the privilege of seeing what life was like for their ancestors, and gives them an idea of the kinds of ideologies and personalities they came from.
6. It could save your life
“Studies suggest that emotional or expressive writing can reduce high blood pressure, enhance immune function, decrease the severity of asthma and arthritis symptoms, promote wound healing, increase AIDS patients’ white blood cell counts and even help young people quit smoking.” Cynthia Brouse, Best Health Mag.
That’s right. There are studies showing that keeping a diary can not only improve your mental health, but your physical health, too.
So what’s stopping you? Get yourself a notebook, use an app like Evernote, or even have a go at blogging. Whatever method you choose, go forth and diary. You won’t regret it, and it might change your life!
Special thanks to Bill Longshaw and phanlop88 @ FreeDigitalPhotos.net for use of their photos in this blog.
© Itchy Quill and ItchyQuill.WordPress.com, 2015