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On the Right Track: The Power of Journaling

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Whether you're out to document your life story for the next generation, want to tap into something to be thankful for each day or need to identify what's triggering a health issue, keeping a journal can provide valuable information that helps the mind, body and soul.

The popular trend of journaling can take many forms and provides numerous benefits—from helping you focus on the positive and practical, to giving you an outlet for complete creative expression.

Here are nine ways to use journaling in various aspects of your daily life.

Wellness Journal. Keep track of your overall health and become more aware of your body. A wellness journal helps you clarify goals, chart progress and record achievements. You can track food intake and calories, as well as exercise and other energy-burning activities. Keep tabs on your measurements and weight, as well as meds, vitamins, and doctors' appointments. It serves as a portable record of your health history and can provide sound motivation for breaking bad habits or creating new, healthier ones.

Gratitude Journal. Start a running record of what you are thankful for each day. By consciously paying attention to your gratitude (for both large and small things) you become more keenly aware of what's going right in your life. It's a great way to shift your thinking to the positive.

Therapeutic Journal. A journal can be a valuable stress management tool and a technique to bring about psychological healing and growth. It's a healthy way to release pent-up emotions, express anger, or convey disappointment and fear. Obstacles and emotions are questioned and challenged so that through self-reflection, personal growth can occur.

Bathroom Journal. This type of journal is a helpful tool for tracking your bladder's behavior. You record bathroom visits, frequency, fluid/food intake, degrees of urgency and incidents of incontinence. Doing so reveals patterns and helps your healthcare provider evaluate symptoms and treatments. The journal can also be used as a simple form of bladder retraining once patterns or triggers are identified.

Dream Book. Our minds continue to work even while we sleep. So it's no surprise that many people are fascinated by dreams. If you're interested in understanding your dreams, keep a notebook by your bedside and record them in detail at first waking to prevent them from fading from conscious memory. Then use your dream book to search for meanings, analyze interpretations and identify patterns.

Memoirs. Writing memoirs is a great way to recall life lessons, gain perspective and obtain self-understanding. When shared, they can also serve as a gift to younger generations, giving them the wisdom and benefit of your experience along with insights into their heritage.

Reading Log. Journaling can provide a whole new dimension to reading the latest bestseller. Keeping a log lets you reflect on information as you read it. You can react to passages in a book that are provocative, powerful or poorly presented. It can be written as a conversation with the author or as a critique of the author's work.

Travelogue. On your next trip, document the journey and its highlights. Share your insights on both the pleasures and the pitfalls. Describe interesting meals, people you meet, and notable attractions, and make recommendations for future trips. Capture it all on paper to preserve every detail.

Field Notes. Journal the natural world around you by using the landscape and its inhabitants as subject matter. Record sights as well as sounds while in the wild, even if it's your own backyard. Include observations on animal sightings, bird behaviors, seasonal and weather changes, or the shapes and patterns of plant life. It's a great way to bring out your inner naturalist.

Write On!
Take the time to chronicle your experiences or observances. Measure, track and explore whatever is important to you. Express yourself and you'll soon discover a world of wisdom at your fingertips.

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