One book closes; another opens. My family’s new camping journal is underway, unexpectedly leading me to think about camping, journaling, and facilitation, and what they have in common. For more than 30 years, my family has written a journal about each hiking and camping trip we took, noting locations, dates, friends and family we were with, and unique occurrences. These journals provide us with wonderful memories about trips and places. The journals have also settled many a mild argument about what we did and when. We and our camping friends often say, “Look it up in the book.”
I have never kept a diary and I have never consciously practiced journaling. However, as I wrote the title on the new camping book, I realized that I’ve been journaling for three decades; only didn’t recognize it as such. As I opened the new book and wrote about our first hikes in 2021, I thought about what I can do to transfer our camping journal practice into my facilitation work.
The benefits of journaling
Research shows that journaling – the art of writing thoughts, ideas, events, observations, and reflections on a regular basis – can be incredibly helpful for mental, intellectual, and emotional health. The benefits of journaling are described in many articles with some that I like listed below.
- Clear your head and boost your mood
- Make important connections between thoughts, feelings, and behaviours
- Reduce mental stress
- Help you meet your goals
The act of writing accesses your left brain, which is analytical and rational. While your left brain is occupied, your right brain is free to create, intuit and feel. In sum, writing removes mental blocks and allows you to use all of your brainpower to better understand yourself, others, and the world around you. https://psychcentral.com/lib/the-health-benefits-of-journaling#1. (Medically reviewed by Scientific Advisory Board — Written by Maud Purcell, LCSW, CEAP on May 17, 2016)
Journaling and facilitation
One article that I enjoyed tremendously is by neurologist Judy Willis and I will apply her thoughts about journaling to my practice as a facilitator. https://bit.ly/3t2KDZP
“Journaling can improve overall memory function. When you journal, you are both recording and processing the events of a particular time period. As you do this, you are remembering and reflecting upon the details of the events, which then helps you retain those memories for a significantly longer amount of time.”
“Additionally, journaling allows you to analyze past events for patterns. As you look at your journal over time, you may begin to see particular patterns emerge, whether in your own behavior or in the behavior of others. Once you spot these patterns, you can respond appropriately.”
After each session or meeting I facilitate, I always think about what happened, who did or said what, what I and others felt, what was achieved or not, what was a success, what could change, what I could use again, what I would do differently … and so on. Usually, I think about the session while walking alone or talking with colleagues and participants. Now, I will write a few sentences about each session much like our camping journals. I will jot down what I want to continue in my future work; remembering and reflecting upon the overall process and the details, looking for patterns of behaviour that I can continue or stop, and rejoicing in the fun of journaling.
And here are the lovely journals I will use thanks to wonderful clients and colleagues. Better Teams https://better-teams.com; Edmonton John Howard Society https://johnhoward.org/; and Canadian Cancer Society https://action.cancer.ca/en/