Have you ever read someone's journal? Or perhaps you have gone back and read past journal entries of your own? Did you feel a personal connection with that person, or see a bigger picture of the events which unfolded in their life? As you read the penned words, did you picture in your mind the people and places written about? Have you ever wished that you could have pictures of the people and places recorded there?
The URMC Encyclopedia explains that journaling is a great tool for managing anxiety, reducing stress, coping with depression, controlling unwanted mental health symptoms and improving your mood. Journaling is also a powerful tool in creating a vision for your future, setting goals, or simply documenting your day-to-day journey. Your journal will become a strength to your future self and even to others (if you want to let them read it).
However, simply writing in your journal isn't the only aspect that can be good for your mental health. Adding photographs to your journaling takes it up another notch. A Canva article explains that "not only does photography allow you to express yourself, but it also helps bring focus to positive life experiences, enhances your self-worth, and even reduces the stress hormone cortisol. It turns out that being a shutter bug gives you a perspective in more ways than one."
William Albert Allard, a photographer for National Geographic for more than a half a century, has been quoted as saying that words and pictures can work together to communicate more powerfully than either alone. This is because, as Ann Trafton explains in her MIT article In the Blink of an Eye, "the brain can identify images seen for as little as 13 milliseconds," while words give the added benefit of providing information and context that cannot be communicated fully with visuals.
Using photos and words to create your journal opens the door for more creativity, better communication and documentation, and a whole lot of good for your mental health. Photo journals can even serve as a way to help overcome personal trauma, giving a different meaning to an event or person by using positive imagery and words to remember the narrative that is true for you.
For example, healing from a traumatic birth experience can begin with adding photos and expressing gratitude as shown below:
Why You Should!
Studies have shown that Journaling can help the following:
1. Boost our mood
2. Better Sleep - get anything stressful out of your mind and into your journal
3. Enhance our sense of well-being and clarity
4. Reduce symptoms of depression
5. Reduce intrusion and avoidance symptoms
6. Improve our working memory
7. Reconnect with gratitude
8. Improves our immune system
9. Creates self-awareness
10. Change our mindset
“After reading my Mother's journal, with her personal handwriting, I feel like I know her more now than I did when she was living. Journals allow us to be vulnerable and create a connection with the reader. The story becomes even more powerful with a photo.” - Persnickety founder, Chari Pack
- Start by grabbing an old journal and writing about printed photos you already have (a great place to start!), attaching or inserting the photos to the page as you go.
-In our digital media centric world, we often snap SO many photos, it can be overwhelming to document, know which ones to keep, and to determine which ones really tell your story. Set aside a Sunday afternoon each month to choose your top 30 photos that month and save them to a folder on your phone or in your cloud-based drive.
- Another option is to format your digital photos and story together into an all-digital journal page you can print and add to scrapbook protector pages!
Remember, your story doesn’t have to be wrapped in a perfect album or fancy book. Often it is is our expectations that become our biggest obstacle. Start now. We’re not documenting our journey and taking photos for today, but for 20 (and more!) years from now. Print and tell your story using both words and photos. Your future self and your mental health will thank you!
Learn a little more about our MomSquad partner, Persnickety Box.
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