By Julia Morrissey
The practice of journaling outdoors can provide excellent benefits to individuals. By keeping a journal, you can improve your mental health, boost your emotional intelligence, and even enhance your memory. When you add an extra layer to journaling and commit to doing some or all of the practice outdoors, you can expect to form even deeper connections with yourself and nature. This post discusses the benefits of journaling and hones in on the specific ways journaling open air can help you. You’ll also find some examples of journals you can start keeping as well as prompts to help you get started.
Benefits of Journaling Outdoors
Journaling can help push you to achieve your goals and feel more prepared to take on life’s challenges. It can also be a fun and fulfilling experience that brings you joy. Below are some of the main benefits of journaling.
1. Raises Self-Confidence
Depending on what type of journal you decide to keep and what purpose you want to journal for, there are several ways that journaling can improve your self-confidence. For example, a bullet journal to stay organized, can help you feel more in control of your schedule, and therefore, more confident in yourself and your abilities. A journal where you self-reflect can help you combat negative thoughts and learn to think more positively about yourself. You can also keep a change journal to understand how you are growing as an individual so that you can feel more comfortable and engaged with your journey.
2. Boosts Mental Health
Taking the time to journal can help you alleviate stress, manage anxiety, and cope with depression. As noted above, journaling can improve self-confidence, which can improve mental health. It can also be a place for you to write down your thoughts, organize your ideas, and problem solve. Through journaling you can develop a better understanding of what problems you’re facing, what your fears are, and any concerns you may have.
It’s also well established that nature benefits mental health. Journaling outside can help you further improve your mental health. Sitting in a beautiful outdoor area, such as by the ocean or in a garden, can make you feel more at ease and connected.
3. Improves Physical Health
Not only has journaling outdoors been shown to have mental health benefits, but it can also positively impact your physical health. In particular, expressive writing has been shown to provide physical health benefits. These self-reported benefits include: improved liver function, reduced blood pressure, improved immune system functioning, and improved athletic performance.
Of course, being outdoors is also a way to enhance your physical health. Being outside can help you become more active. Thus, by walking to one of your favorite spots to write an entry, you can further improve your physical health.
4. Magnifies Creativity
An excellent way to harness your creative energy is by keeping a journal. You can jot down your thoughts and ideas or even doodle or draw images that are meaningful to you. A creative journal can help bolster your imagination and aid you in finding new inspiration. Journaling outdoors in a place that also inspires you, can also help drive your creative process. Hike to the top of your favorite lookout and let your imagination flow onto paper.
5. Refines Communication and Writing Skills
If you frequently journal, you can expect that this will help you not only learn how to write well but also improve your communication skills. The more you write the more your vocabulary will grow. Additionally, you can learn to express yourself clearly and meaningfully on paper. This can also translate into how you communicate thoughts and ideas verbally. You’ll be able to articulate your desires better, which can help you make sure you’re getting what you want and need from yourself and others.
6. Helps with Goal Achievement
Part of setting an attainable goal is making sure the goal is a SMART goal. A smart goal is one that is Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Timebound. Writing down a goal that has all of these characteristics can make achieving that goal not only easier but more likely. When you record and track a goal on paper, for example a goal related to finishing a challenging hike, it can make it feel much more tangible, and therefore, help you stay motivated.
7. Heightens Memory
Research has shown that handwriting information down, particularly when compared to typing, is an effective way to memorize it. A journal can help you record thoughts and memories, such as a great trip, so that you can go back and revisit them. It’s ideal to take notes during your day or a particular experience. You can always go back and expand on them that night or a few days later. A travel journal is a great way to capture memories and keep them close to you.
Types of Journals You Can Start Keeping
What type of journal you want to keep (and you can of course keep multiple types) is up to you! You should aim to find the journal type that works best for you and helps you meet your unique goals. Below are several types of journals, in addition to some of the examples we’ve mentioned thus far, that you might consider. You’ll also find a visual from the University of St. Augustine for Health Sciences which showcases additional types of journal as well as journal prompts to help you get started.
- Question Journal: Write down questions that you want to answer.
- Idea Journal: Ideal for “brain dumping” and letting your stream-of-consciousness flow.
- Transfer Journal: Record how you hope to learn from a past or present experience.
- 5 Ws Journal: Highlight the 5 Ws (Who, What, When, Where, Why) to help commit an event to memory.
- Reading Journal: Take notes on a book you’re reading to help remember concepts or ideas that interest you.
- Double-entry Journal: Write down a specific concept or phrase on the left-side of the page and record your thoughts or reaction to that idea on the right-side of the page.