I have begun journalling recently after reading multiple pieces of research into the positive effects it can have on both your wellbeing and your learning. After struggling mentally with the last term of medical school and struggling to find the right people to talk to, I’ve decided to invest in some cheap therapy… journalling.
A study by Harvard Business School showed the employees who journaled each day experienced a 22.8% increase in performance compared to employees who refrained from doing so. As someone who is desperately trying to improve their performance in university and as a person, reading results like this shows it was definitely a reason for giving journalling a go. I’ve journaled before when I was in the early days of my first university degree and for a while I was very good at writing information in it on a daily basis. After a while I became lax in doing things that I was aiming to do in life; or if I had a fairly bad day, i instead of writing why I was feeling unproductive I just stopped writing in the journal. Eventually the journalling stopped all-together.
This new journalling journey began for me a few days into the Christmas break. I had been out for coffee with my friends who all work or understand the healthcare professions. It was really nice to discuss with people who understood what was going on but also offering me some advice yet logical opinions. Coming home to my family made me realise that they cant really understand some of the events and stresses that have been going on and will undoubtedly occur in the next few years. I am also unwilling to completely turn my friends and housemates into unpaid councillors when I have an ability to self resolve.
Journalling was a great option for me, it gave me free therapy whilst allowing me to reap the positive benefits. I came to the realisation after reading bloggers opinions and scientific information (which as a science lover I had to see a recored benefit as well as personal opinion), that the process of journalling is not just about writing every detail of your life down, but about recognising those small milestones you achieve in your life on a daily basis; whilst recognising and appreciating the gratitude you need to be a better person. Simple successes and self reflection can really improve your mental health and make you unconsciously attempt to be a better person.
As I begin to undertake more bedside teaching and placements during my medical degree, I believe that persevering with journaling will make me a better reflector and help with the process of recovery from difficult situations and allow me to think through situations in a safe space which will help provide me with clarity. The free therapy is definitely a bonus.
Writing in a free and creative space has also allowed me to begin developing my own ideas, about my future, my goals and the theory behind medicine. It’s made me more open minded to other peoples ideas and opinions as I am able to write down logic and see things more creatively from other peoples eyes.
My journey into journalling began with a notebook and a comfy pen. It didn’t have to be pretty, though having a pretty notebook definitely helps. I found A5 to be the best size as it is big enough to not fill up the book fast yet, small enough to put in my handbag if I am going home or away for a few days. The advice I would have for anyone who I thinking about journalling is simple; after reading numerous bloggers and articles on journalling I felt really bad if I only wrote half a page or so of information on a particularly slow day. Please remember there is no writing requirement on a daily basis, its about what will help you have a thoughtful day and reflect enough on your troubles to get a better nights sleep. Some days you can probably summarise your day with a simple quote, others an essay might help you come to terms with the day.