The Power of Journaling: What To Track & Why

The Power of Journaling: What To Track & Why

Pure Essentials is kicking off 2024 with a focus on 5 wellness priorities: Track Your Food, Hydration, Sleep, Stress, and Exercise. As part of our New Routines For A New Year campaign, we're encouraging you to embrace new heathy habits, set achievable goals, and keep a journal to track your success.

Journaling is critical - it keeps you in touch with your goals and motivates you to keep going through the peaks and valleys of lifestyle changes. To make it easy, we've just publish a 122-page Wellness Journal that's free for you to download, save, and print for your personal use. This is a great guide, with tips for good, better, and best strategies for each of our 5 wellness priorities, plus science facts, health tips, encouraging quotes, and journal pages to track 52 weeks of life-changing progress.

Wellness Journal: Your Tool For Success

A blank page, a blinking cursor or a still pen can haunt the strongest of people. Writer or not, the onset of a personal journey is often placed on pause, hindering many from expressing themselves freely. From Mark Twain’s wit-filled diaries to the reflective journals of Leonardo da Vinci, journaling has a storied history of decluttering the greatest of minds.

Grab a pen and notebook, and let’s go through some journaling techniques, what to track in them and why.

What Is Journaling?

Journaling is the practice of writing down thoughts, emotions, memories, goals, achievements, and challenges. It’s a highly personal process that captures genuine feelings and reflections, often serving as a tool for self-discovery and emotional expression.

Or, it can simply be a mechanism from tracking progress over a period, to ensure we don’t lose perspective on where we’ve come from and how we got there.

Let's explore some journaling techniques along with key elements to track for each method. For  convenience, we've included these guide sections titled "What's The Science?" and "What To Track" for easy reference.

Objective Journaling

Keeping a journal to track your goals is a great way to remain engaged in tracking progress. Our free downloadable Wellness Journal is based on objectives that you set related to nutrition, hydration, sleep, stress, and exercise. Writing down your goals repeatedly connects you to what's working and what needs tweaking. Your journal is an effective place to establish your game plan then track your progress. It’s worth repeating: progress is the goal when it comes to objectives, not perfection.

Pro Tip: Include a reason, or your “why?” for your goals. A goal with no purpose, lacks direction. Attaching a clear “why” to your goals provides motivation on those days where you need that extra push to get out of bed. Just a few minutes a day engaged with your goals, your why, and your progress is a great way to keep things moving.

What’s The Science?

Writing down clearly defined goals helps to make them more tangible and, more likely, achievable. Seeing your progress in writing can boost motivation and bolster your commitment.

Writing also aids memory retention, helping you remember and stay mindful of your goals. Regularly updating progress in a journal fosters a sense of personal accountability and allows for tracking progress and setbacks. Clear goals and action plans can reduce anxiety about the future, leading to a sense of control and reduced stress. What’s good for the mind is often good for the body.

What To Track

  • Specific goals: Clearly define what you aim to achieve in the short-term and long-term.
  • Action plans: Detail the steps required to reach each goal.
  • Progress updates: Regularly record progress towards your goals, noting both successes and setbacks.
  • Reflections on setbacks: Analyze obstacles or challenges you encountered and how you did or plan to overcome them.
  • Motivations: Remind yourself of the reasons behind your goals to maintain motivation.

Gratitude Journaling

Gratitude journaling is taking the time out to focus on what brought joy to you, no matter how big or small. Whether it's something as simple as the train was on time, the morning traffic was light, the internet didn’t lag during the weekly zoom meeting. The point is to start the process of shifting our natural inclination of focusing on the negative, to a perspective of gratitude.

Focusing on gratitude (journaling or even contemplating) has been linked to stress reduction, improvements in sleep, and an array of physiological and psychological benefits. Whether it’s through a meditation practice or journaling thoughts of gratitude (we recommend both with our Pure Zen for an extra kick, of course) the health benefits still persist. Here's what the science says.

What’s The Science?

Writing about gratitude increases serotonin and dopamine, the brain’s ‘feel-good’ neurotransmitters, naturally enhancing mood. It lowers cortisol, the stress hormone, by up to 23 percent according to some studies, alleviating stress and improving overall well-being.

People who practice gratitude journaling often report improved sleep quality, likely because they go to bed with positive thoughts rather than worries. Regular gratitude journaling can rewire the brain to begin scanning the environment for the positive rather than the negative, fostering a more optimistic outlook. Those who journal their gratitude tend to exercise more and take better care of their health, possibly due to an enhanced state of appreciation for their well-being.

Writing down 5 things you're grateful for in the morning and evening before bed can make the habit of appreciating the present moment and the little things life has to offer. Applying this quick practice before bed can provide your mind with a sense of calm and ease before counting Z's. Let's make sure the sheep you count aren't angry ones.

What To Track

  • Daily blessings: Note anything, big or small, that you feel grateful for each day.
  • Positive experiences: Write about positive moments, interactions that put a smile on your face, or something new you learned.
  • Personal strengths: Acknowledge your skills and strengths.
  • Acts of kindness: Include those you receive and those you give.
  • Moments worth remembering: These could be as simple as a sunset you watched, a smile from a stranger, or a piece of art that moved you.

Expressive Journaling

Expressive journaling involves capturing significant events in your life, expressing your deepest emotions, and the feelings evoked by those events. The goal is to understand past experiences and overcome the traumas they might have caused.

Benefits from writing about emotional experiences tends to result in improvements in psychological health. Even just 15 to 30 minutes a for 3 to 5 days a week may produce welcomed benefits.

What’s The Science?

Expressive journaling may help a person process and manage emotions, reducing the impact of stress and anxiety. Studies show that expressive writing can enhance immune system functioning, potentially speeding up physical healing, and keeping a journal has been linked to reduced symptoms in people with depression and PTSD.

Fun Fact: A 2013 study revealed that expressive writing can heal! Participants aged 64 to 97 who journaled about their daily annoyances for 20 minutes showed improved healing versus those who did not. By the 11th day, 76 percent of them had healed small biopsy wounds, compared to just 42 percent in the group writing about daily schedules.

When in doubt, write it out. You may heal faster.

What to Track

  • Emotions and thoughts: Write about what you are feeling and thinking, without judgment. Be kind to  yourself.

  • Stressful or traumatic events: Describe difficult experiences and express pent-up emotions related to them.

  • Reflections on daily life: Dive into your reactions to day-to-day interactions and events.

  • Dreams and aspirations: Explore your hopes and dreams and the emotions they evoke.

  • Personal challenges and fears: Confront your worries and fears through writing.

    If you’re considering starting a journal, no matter what your motivation, congratulations. You’ve taken the first step toward new routines and a fresh commitment to your well-being.

    Your journal offers a unique lens into your inner self and a reflection of the journey at all stages. Whether it’s capturing moments of gratitude, unraveling complex emotions, or mapping out future aspirations, tracking your progress is more than just putting pen to paper. It creates an inner dialogue, a compass guiding you towards personal growth, and tangible reminder of what you’ve achieved.

    Embrace the diversity of journaling. Find the style that resonates with you, brings clarity to your mind, and nurtures your path to self-discovery. When you next face the blank page, breathe deeply, and let your words flow freely. Journaling is not just about filling pages; it’s about enriching your life’s narrative.