Through the years–and especially in the past few months–journaling has become a hot topic in many online forums dedicated to mental health and wellness in general. It’s also cropped up in articles in leading publications like New York Times and Huffpost. Journaling has so many benefits to offer and can even help one better understand their emotions and deal better with stress and anxiety.
This is the reason why so many experts advocate the practice of journaling, including published author, Registered Social Worker and a Certified Professional Life Coach, Lynda Monk. Lynda is the Director of the International Association for Journal Writing (IAJW). She has supported thousands of people to go to the page and write for well-being, self-expression and personal growth. Her firsthand experience with journaling, which started very early in her life, is one of the reasons why she’s very passionate about it.
I recently talked to her to learn more about her journey and growth to becoming one of the foremost authorities in the field. Her story is both inspiring and offers so many lessons for anyone who doesn’t know how to begin journaling or has lost their core reason for doing so.
Can you tell me more about how you started journaling? What made you decide to document your thoughts and emotions?
I started journaling as a young girl. So young that I was learning how to write cursive when I started keeping a journal. I have no idea where the instinct to write down my thoughts and feelings came from but it is an impulse that has run fairly consistently throughout the past 40 years of my life.
Journaling grew from being a hobby in my childhood and teen years, into an essential aspect of my self-care in the first decade of my social work career.
You mentioned self-care. How exactly was journaling an act of self-care for you? And how did this change the trajectory of your life?
I did a lot of crisis response work in high stress and often high trauma circumstances and journaling helped me process the difficult emotions inherent to the nature of this type of work. I credit my journaling practice for helping me prevent burnout in a profession where such can be prevalent.
With my firsthand experience of using journaling for self-care as a social worker and a growing passion years ago for burnout prevention and care for caregivers, I started teaching other helping and healthcare professionals how to use writing for their own wellness and resilience.
As I look back, I can see how journaling evolved from a childhood hobby, to a key self-care practice and then became significant to my work in the world. So often at the heart of entrepreneurial ventures, especially for coaches, helpers, healers, authors and change agents, is a desire to make a difference helping others with tools and experiences that have helped ourselves. This is true for me in terms of sharing my passion for the healing power of writing.
What is your reason for continuing to journal all these years?
I journal for lots of different reasons including to nurture my health and wellness, to reduce stress, to solve problems, to think more clearly, to tap into feelings of calm, to connect with gratitude, and to know myself more fully. Journaling isn’t just something that I do, it is part of who I am. It is central to the person I have been and the person I am becoming. Journaling is a life practice that continually shows me how much I am growing, it helps me make choices that are aligned with what matters most to me. I see my values and dreams reflected in my journal and it gives me the confidence to make choices aligned with my true dreams and desires.
How did you eventually find yourself building a career out of journaling?
I have shared my passion for journaling in various ways, by infusing it into the heart of my career and business for many years now. Whether through offering journaling workshops, engaging in journaling for wellness coaching with clients, creating online journaling courses, facilitating personal writing retreats, teaching journaling for burnout prevention programs at universities, creating journaling tools and resources, and more recently over the past 3 years, through leading the International Association for Journal Writing.
What is the biggest transformation that you see in people after they’ve picked up journaling?
I see how journaling can change peoples’ lives for the better every single day. I want to share the benefits of journaling with as many people as possible so that it can support their well-being, creative self-expression, personal growth and success.
Journaling is both simple and profound. Go to the page and try it for yourself! Discover how to know, grow and care for yourself through writing about your thoughts and feelings. Let journaling help you get what is on the inside, out. Everything you need, you already have within you! Journaling helps you access your inner truth. That then gets to be the compass that supports you to live your best life!
To learn more about Lynda or just journaling in general, or if you want to join a global community of journal writers, you may visit https://iajw.org.