Putting Pen to Paper
How gratitude practises, manifestation and day-to-day journaling can enhance your wellbeing and life.
How journaling and writing poetry can enhance your life
You need not be a prolific writer or renowned journalist to begin writing, all you need is a little desire and dedication. But why would one want to begin writing you ask? Well, the type of writing we’re talking about here is journaling. It’s very personal, therapeutic and can be transformational. Many studies show how different ways of journaling – from gratitude diaries to manifestation journaling and simple day-today writing – can positively influence your wellbeing and life.
So, why does this tool receive such little recognition these days? It’s time to surpass the inside voice that tells you you’re no good at writing and start putting pen to paper.
Going beyond a simple ‘thanks’ is now the norm. Whether it’s physically telling someone you’re grateful for them in a heartfelt way or journaling what you are grateful for in life, there are studies to show that this practise can profoundly improve your mental health. The majority of research indicates a link between gratitude and an overall sense of wellbeing. Focusing on the positive, rather than the negative can boost our mood more than we expect.
Journal coach Daisy Moore says that by practising gratitude journaling we are rewiring our brain to have a more positive, optimistic and happy disposition. Moore talks about a study about rewiring our brain. Up until the early 1970s, it was thought that the brain was fixed, until scientist Michael Mercenich discovered the exact opposite – learning that many aspects of the brain are malleable and can be altered. Therefore, through reinforcement or repetitive activities we can form new neural pathways in the brain. This is what we are doing when we practise gratitude, says Moore.
Another way to change your life for the better through writing is with manifestation.
Manifestation is an understanding of what you want your life to look like and making it happen. Offering a thought-provoking perspective, Moore says “You are manifesting your life moment to moment with the thoughts you think and the words you use”.
Understanding the power of our thoughts and how to use them for the better can be life-changing. Moore mentions the reticular activating system (RAS) – a network of neurons located in the brain stem that send information to the hypothalamus. Essentially, it’s the part of your brain that filters information and shares with you what you deem important.
Manifestation journaling with Moore’s The Journal Code course includes writing your goals, values, dreams and big desires. Doing so signifies to your brain that it is important, which your RAS then picks up and shows you opportunities, paths, people and tools to bring those things to life. It’s like planting seeds, says Moore.
“We all know what we want in life, we simply live in a world that is loud and busy, so of course it’s hard to be able to settle in and hear what your heart desires. When we journal about these topics, we ask ourselves these questions and come up with answers”.
Supporting mental health
Anna Birchall is the creator of Moon Turtle – a journal that supports people in nurturing their mental wellbeing through guided prompts, making it easy for anyone to start journaling. What was originally created as a journal for a university design project and stemmed into a journal that helped Birchall with her own mental health journey, eventuated into creating a beautiful journal for everyone. Birchall found journaling helped her to practically identify all the different factors contributing to the state of her mental wellbeing, how she thinks, feels and behaves.
Objective journaling was incredibly helpful in helping her to understand what made things better and what made things worse. Taking note of what she ate and why, how she felt, how much sleep she got, exercise and so on, helped Birchall to draw connections, enabling her to understand what it meant to prioritise her mental wellbeing through life’s various actions.
There is great solace in the practise of journaling when experiencing a challenging time, says Birchall. Writing down your thoughts, feelings and ideas on the page works wonders in slowing down the rumination cycle – the process of continuously thinking the same thoughts, which tend to be sad or negative. Birchall says putting pen to paper allows her to handle situations more pragmatically and use these tools as opportunities for emotional growth rather than an impulsive response.
“The act of writing with a pen on paper itself is very grounding, especially when so much of our life happens on a screen. It forces us to slow down and be present.”