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The Joy of Journaling in Later Years

Article by Daniel Westhead Daniel Westhead Sure Safe Alarms
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One of the wonders of retirement is that it opens up so many opportunities for you to explore new hobbies – or return to old, beloved ones.

Of course, there’s an immense spectrum of activities to choose from, depending on your interests, location and so on. But one pastime that’s a great for nearly everyone is journaling.

Unlike other hobbies, journaling is easily accessible to practically anyone. You don’t have to buy equipment or travel anywhere. And there is a range of ways to journal, too, if you don’t favour traditional pen and paper.

Yet the benefits of journaling can be great! In this piece, we’ll investigate the different ways in which seniors can journal and why seniors can find the activity to be so meaningful and enjoyable.

What is journaling?

Essentially, journaling is taking time fairly frequently to write down what you’ve been thinking in recent moments. That could mean your daily experiences, what you learned that day, or even memories that came to mind. What you write doesn’t have to be lengthy – even jotting down a few sentences counts.

You can journal every day, multiple times a day or every few days, however the urge takes you. What’s fantastic about journaling is that there is no wrong way to do it! The point of journaling is just to reflect a little and put down some thoughts on paper. After a little while, you’ll have a record of your days that you can look back at and enjoy.

How do I start journaling?

When it comes to ways to journal, you have lots of options!

Pen and paper

You can go traditional by buying a bound paper journal. Some people find the ritual of writing with pen on paper each day to be calming. Buying a nice pen and beautifully bound journal to write in can add pleasure to your day as well. If you’re the artistic type, you can even add a few little sketches in to illustrate your reflections.

Of course for some seniors, conditions such as weakening eyesight or stiffness in the hands can make handwriting difficult. But that’s no problem – there are plenty of other approaches to take.

Writing in a document

If handwriting is a bit tricky, you can always try typing your journal in a Google doc, Word doc or similar document on the computer. Since you can always increase the zoom or the font size of a document, this can also be much easier for seniors who prefer larger type.

If you prefer not to type, or if pain or stiffness in your hands makes it difficult, many apps also offer a great speech-to-text function.

On social media

Yes, thoughtful daily posts on social media can be a kind of journaling too! Why not start up an Instagram account and post a daily interesting photo together with reflections about your day? You might even find that one of your posts has sparked a conversation or brought you together with someone who has similar interests.

What are the benefits of journaling?

No matter which mode of journaling you choose, you might find you’re reaping big benefits of all kinds. Some possibilities are…

An opportunity for calm reflection

When life is stressful or winter days are grey, it can be very soothing to take a moment to check in with your feelings and quietly reflect on your day. Pausing like this can give us the opportunity to appreciate the pleasures in life – a bird nesting outside the windowsill, a phone call from a dear old friend. Taking photos or doing some sketches to record interesting moments can add to your enjoyment – you might even find out you’re turning into a birdwatcher!

Flexing creative muscles

If you’re a creative spirit, retirement is the perfect time to explore or re-visit artistic pursuits that you might not have had time for before. If you’re journaling with creativity in mind, you might focus on crafting beautiful descriptions of sights you’ve seen or experiences you’ve had. Or perhaps you’d rather focus on the humour in your day, crafting a witty re-telling along the lines of Gerald Durrel’s autobiographical My Family and Other Animals. Either way, developing skills and engaging in mental pursuits might even help older people’s brain health.

Reflecting and recording memories

Journaling doesn’t just have to be about the here and now. You can use each day’s experiences as inspiration for recalling and gathering memories. If you’ve lived in your neighbourhood for a long time, try reflecting back on different favourite spots and jotting down your recollections of how they’ve changed. It won’t be long before you have a multitude of memories to share with family and friends.

… Or just for fun!

If you find you enjoy journaling, you don’t have to have any specific goal in mind for it! Retirement is just the time to do things because you like them, not to serve any specific purpose. Jot down a friend’s remark that made you laugh, a few lines about the first snowfall, or your opinions on a movie you just watched. If you enjoy it, then journaling is doing you good!

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