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22 Apr, 2019

The Benefits of Journaling with Papier

The backlash against social media usage and the related mental health issues has been rife in the past year, not to mention the furore over Facebook’s data protection breach. While there are definite benefits to being switched on digitally, even more beneficial is the time we take to switch off. Here Papier muse on this year’s breakthrough trend of journaling and the associated mental health benefits.

Lifestyle

The backlash against social media usage and the related mental health issues has been rife in the past
year, not to mention the furore over Facebook’s data protection breach. While there are definite benefits to being switched on digitally, even more beneficial is the time we take to switch off. Here Papier muse on this year’s breakthrough trend of journaling and the associated mental health benefits.

A diary is timeless, and never a waste of time.


Pausing to make note of that exceptionally oozy slice of marmalade toast, or a friendly bus driver on a grey Monday, gives mental focus and added buoyancy. As diarist Michael Palin recommends: “Write every day.
Diaries are all about habit. They should become a regular part of your day, like cleaning your teeth or going to the lavatory.” And best of all, there are no boundaries – so let loose! “A diary may break every rule of politeness,” marvels journalist Kate Kellaway. Journals are not only about the art of writing but the art of solitude. “A dear companion,” said Katherine Mansfield, of her treasured diary.

As the saying goes, if it works for Marilyn, it works for us.


Out of the spotlight, Marilyn Monroe’s journals reveal a philosopher and poet rarely glimpsed on screen. “Writing has made my hands tremble, but I just want to keep pouring it out until that great pot in the mind is, though not emptied, relieved,” she wrote as a teenager in the early 1940s. We shall note: the catharsis of a diary is a miracle cure for a chattering mind. And if like us your new year’s resolutions are as fleeting as the January sunshine, give yourself an outside chance and write them down. Marilyn’s 1955 resolutions commence: “enjoying myself as fully as I wish or want to” and, “being as sensitive as I am, without being ashamed of it.” Bravo, Marilyn.

Not mad keen to relive the drudgery of the day?


A diary needn’t be confined to (oft tedious) comings and goings. Jotting down achievements and setting goals is a tried and tested life hack. Track your progress over time – anything from fruit and veg count, inches to touching your toes, Instagram-free half hours, or even new words learnt – à la musician Nick Cave, who keeps a handwritten dictionary-diary of his favourite words.

2019 is all about Morning Pages.


Bedtime journal writing is so last year. Purge those toxic vendettas, distracting To Do lists, or grey hair-inducing calendar struggles before you’ve even got out of bed. Simply: wake, write, write some more, write in stream of consciousness for three whole pages and then float, unencumbered through your day. Invented by creativity guru Julia Cameron, Morning Pages are widely praised for alleviating anxieties, sharpening the mind and fostering creativity. The diary equivalent of Bikram Yoga. With less odour. You’re welcome!

A journal is just as much about preserving memories, as it is keeping a piece of home in your pocket.


On your next trip, take a leaf out of the likes of Charles Darwin, who filled 15 books on a voyage along the South American coast. You will reap the rewards of a travel diary in years to come: there’s nothing better than flicking back to tales of mosquito-infested hostel dorms from the comfort of your own bed. In this vein, writer Sarah Brown organises diary reading pub events for the very reason that "re-reading an old diary is a good way to remember that if you're having a hard time, you've had hard times before and got through them."

Stuck for words? Then do without.

Among the countless visual diarists include Leonardo da Vinci, Frida Kahlo, Joseph Cornell and most charming of all, May Morris. Daughter to the Arts & Craft icon William Morris, May was an embroidery designer, feminist pioneer and hardy traveller. Her vivid journals from visits to Iceland in the 1920s include pencil sketches and colour notes of the landscape. Liberate your own creativity in the judgement-free pages of journal. Blank notebook and HB rubber-tipped pencil recommended; pencil chewing encouraged.

Words by Louise Long for Papier.

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