Diary writing and journaling has been practiced by many great men throughout history, from Samuel Pepys to Charles Darwin. As the author, William Makepeace Thackeray once wrote, “There are a thousand thoughts lying within a man that he does not know till he takes up the pen to write.”
In recent years, daily planner designs have diversified to cater to all writers, including daily planners for men, with room to plot in goals, track progress towards success, and focus on the simple moments.
Read on to find out more about why men should use a daily journal or planner.
What exactly is journaling?
Journaling is the act of writing down your thoughts, helping you to identify and organise your tasks, goals, decisions, and emotions. A journal can be a useful tool in your arsenal for improving mental health, reducing stress, and allowing us to become clearer to achieve more.
Journaling is a low cost budget friendly way of improving your mental health. Many would think journaling is purely pen to paper, however in more recent years, using apps on computers has become increasingly popular.
Although the idea of journaling is simple, getting started often proves difficult for some. Where do you start? Well let's first look at the key benefits of journaling.
Reduce anxiety through journaling
Journaling can help with reducing anxious thoughts and limit the amount of stressful thoughts and triggers. A study found that those who wrote online for 15 minutes a day, for three days, over a 12 week period felt a reduction in depressing thoughts and an increase in a sense of well-being.
Regulating emotions with journaling
Studies have shown through brain scans that those who often used a journal to write about their feelings were able to control their emotions better than those who didn't.
Creating awareness with journaling
The habit of writing down your thoughts on a regular basis has been shown to help identify, understand, and process your feelings better. Reviewing how we feel in the written form helps us to process events and thoughts better.
Learning to speak up with journaling
Using a daily journal, and especially as a man, helps you to be comfortable with opening up about your feelings and thoughts more. In the past, and still currently, there has been a stigma attached to men who open up about their feelings. Men are taught at a young age to toughen up, not to cry, and to get on with things. This teaches men to automatically reserve their thoughts for themselves. Journaling for men is a great introduction in becoming comfortable with thinking and discussing your own thoughts and feelings.
Mental and physical healing with journaling
Journaling is a great tool for helping people deal with trauma in their life, both mental and physical.
A study conducted in New Zealand showed that participants who journaled for 20 minutes about a traumatic event were able to heal faster.
Clear thinking with journaling
It's no secret that journaling can help to clear your head of thoughts that you might be obsessively thinking about. Putting pen to paper is a great way to see your thoughts more clearly. It could be anything - writing about an upcoming job interview, an exciting opportunity, a bad day at work.
How To Start Journaling For Men
Now this isn't the first step to journaling, but as a man, you do need to become more comfortable with expressing your thoughts and writing them down to get the most out of journaling. This comes easy to some, and not so easy to others. Journaling is an exercise, and the more you practice, the better and more accomplished you become. So try to stick to the process of journaling, see yourself become better, and notice the positive benefits on your life.
Step 1 to journaling - Just start writing
It doesn't need to be in a fancy leather bound journal. You could simply start on a piece of scrap paper or notebook. Physically writing is recommended as a way to start journaling rather than using a computer. Writing allows the flow of journaling to happen easier, and once you become more accomplished at journaling, you can always move to a computer or app.
Don't overthink this first step. You can write about anything. A good place to start is writing about what you've been feeling recently, or something that happened that day that made you happy, or something that is playing on your mind and you are worried about. We will look at journaling prompts to give you topics to write about if you have writers block.
Step 2 to journaling - Make it a habit
As we mentioned before, journaling is an exercise which you need to persist at in order to get better. Make journaling a daily habit, or even ritual.
A few suggestions to make it easier to stick to would be to keep your journal in the same spot each day. Keeping your journal by your bedside table will remind you each time you wake to write something down. Likewise, keeping a journal on your desk will act as a cue to journal when you sit down to check your emails.
Another suggestion would be to journal at the same time each day. If you are sporadically opening up your journal at different times in the day, then this is less likely to form a lasting habit of journaling. Stack these habit triggers together to form a full proof plan for sticking to your new journaling habit.
Step 3 to journaling - There's no right or wrong
There is no judgement with journaling, and there are no right or wrong journal entries. The only person you are writing to and for yourself. Expressing your thoughts and emotions without fear of judgement will allow them to flow more freely.
Some people prefer to write down what they are worried about. some people will write down everything of interest that happened in their day. Write down what feels right to you, and what allows your mind to feel calm, clear, and rested.
Step 4 to journaling - Be creative
The more comfortable you get with journaling, the more creative you can be. You don't always need to express yourself with words, but instead you can doodle. Doodling for mental health has a very positive effect on allowing the mind to unwind. Doodling in itself allows the mind to think in a creative way.
Step 5 to journaling - Show gratitude
Showing gratitude has a profound effect on our mental wellness. The simplest way to do this is to think of three things that you could be truly grateful for in your life. They can be small or big things - such as a cup of coffee in the morning, or marrying the love of your life. When you write down your three things, really try to connect with how they make you feel. Practising gratitude in this way helps us to focus on the positives in our world, rather than focusing on what's going wrong. Immediately this shifts our mindset in to a more positive one.
Step 6 to journaling - Be easy on yourself
Don't expect miracles after you've completed your first entry in your journal. Journaling is an exercise that you should continuously practice. Don't feel discouraged if you find it hard to write about your thoughts and emotions at first. As time goes on, you will start to realise that journaling has the power to unload your mind, creating a clear space for you to think.
How a Daily Planner Can Help Men Stay Productive
Whether you’re working on your business plans, professional skills, hobbies or personal development, daily planners for men are the perfect productivity tool to keep you on track.
A daily planner keeps all of your goals in one spot, so you know exactly what you’re aiming for. You can plan daily, weekly and monthly goals, and track your progress over time. Documenting your goals in a daily planner gives you an added incentive to reach them.
Men and Mental Health: Journaling for Mental Health
Outside of setting your goals for the future, daily planners for men also have mental and physical health benefits.
It is now becoming more widely recognised that men are less likely to speak out about mental health issues. Young men are one of the groups most at risk of suicide. It’s increasingly important for men to develop strategies to boost their mental wellbeing, and counteract negative thinking patterns that can spiral into depression.
One way that daily planners for men can help with mental health is that they can be used to develop a structured plan for mental health recovery. You can allot clear times to focus on your mental health, and set goals for anxieties you want to overcome.
It’s important to also take time to appreciate the natural world around you. Mindfulness helps to relieve stress and relax the mind. Focus on what you can see and hear - the sounds of birds chirping, the view of the city as it slowly wakes up. Tuning out from your thoughts from time to time can enable you to step away from anxieties.
Savour the moment by writing about your mindfulness sessions in your daily planner. You can also record affirmations to remind yourself of your inner strengths, and what you intend to achieve with your day. Remember, though, that journaling is not an alternative to mental health treatment, and it’s always important to reach out for help from local services.
How To Set SMART Goals for Self-Development and Success
Though many people continuously develop their technical skills, it can be easy to neglect our ‘soft skills’. Soft skills are related to our personality and ways of working. They include communication skills, productivity and adaptability. Developing soft skills can be challenging, because they require self-examination and determination to master.
When developing your soft skills, it is helpful to set out SMART goals in daily planners for men. These are a set of guidelines that can help you to write more specific, achievable goals.
It stands for:
- Specific - i.e. What is your goal?
- Measurable - i.e. When will you know that your goal is complete?
- Achievable - i.e. What small tasks will build up to your goal?
- Relevant - i.e. Why do you want to complete this goal?
- Time-Sensitive - i.e. When will you aim to complete your goal?
By aligning your goals with the SMART guidelines, you ensure that they are manageable. Setting manageable goals raises the chances you will go through with them. Be realistic. Are the small tasks in your ‘achievable’ section actually achievable? Do you understand exactly how they relate your main goals?
For example, if your main goal is to ‘improve communication’, your achievable goals might be:
- Watch three videos about communication skills
- Try to engage in two conversations, using techniques from the videos
- Review my communication skills over the week in my daily planner
The more specific your goals are, the better.
Daily planners for men are beneficial in many ways. Whether you want to build your way up to goals, improve your skills, or boost your mental wellbeing, a daily planner can become a one-stop space for your day-to-day needs.