Why Journalling Matters

I’m a huge advocate of journalling.  Writing helps me to process my thoughts, align my stories with reality, find peaceful moments in my life, and just reflect.  I love reflecting.

But I’m also a really big nerd.  And the idea of reflecting and journalling and thought processing is music to my ears!

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My current journal (well, one of a few, but the others are packed). Journaling is also great professionally. I always jot down quick notes after my classes: what worked well, what didn’t, and where I should start off my next class (i.e. concepts to review based on my reflection on what students were especially struggling with). Journalling has improved my work as an educator. Reflecting is great in all aspects of life!

Not everyone loves journalling.  I get that.  I understand that I made the decision to blog…and plenty of people out there would find this in their list of “things to avoid: writing random thoughts on the internet.”

But when you’re travelling, I argue that it’s important, if not essential, to journal.  At least for five seconds.  At least once.  Or maybe twice.

So if you were in one my classes where you went overseas, I’d force you to journal.  In fact, writing a reflective journal would constitute at least 30% of your overall mark.  That’s how much I think journalling matters.

But I promise it’s not because I want to turn my students into “Leah Polonenko clones.”  No, I don’t force journalling because I’m mean.  I force journalling (or strongly encourage with the incentive of grades…) because it’s a PROVEN tool to increase learning and experiences.

What happens when you journal?

  1. You process.  You do.  And I know you might say “but everyone processes differently” – but journalling needn’t be with long wordy sentences.  You can write lists.  You can draw a picture.  You can write bullet points.  But by writing what you’re feeling, you are PROVEN to be better able to reflect, think through, and thus process emotional feelings.

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    My mini journal: even when I have a small bag, I always need something on which to write!
  2. Journalling forces you to reflect.  People who are natural journalers, like me, are more natural reflectors.  Not everyone sits there with tea in the morning thinking through their day’s goals, as I do.  But when traveling, it’s imperative that you think through experience and REALIZE that emotions that you are having.  For example, how will you know if you’re contending with culture shock if you don’t sit, think, and realize it?  Especially for the non-reflectively inclined, journaling forces to do a little bit of thinking.  Think of it as a personal check to make sure you’re okay.
  3. MEMORIES!  Journalling forces you to hold onto memories.  I love going through past travel journals to remember little anecdotes, people I forgot, whole days that would have been a distant memory (i.e. completely gone) otherwise.
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Mini sketch pad: just in case the moment strikes and I need something…. Mini pads and mini journals are the best if you want to have what you need when you want them!

If you are working through journalling for school, or if you are an experiential educator, I will soon be writing a separate list of reasons, which include bringing theory into practice in a more centred and holistic manner.  But these, dear friends, are three AMAZING reasons to start journalling today.

Remember – you don’t need to be wordy.  Maybe it’s more colouring.  Maybe it’s more sketching.  Maybe it’s more listing.  But journal.  Do something with a pen or pencil and paper.

Happy times being creative!

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