I’ve wrote before about the importance of journaling and keeping a diary in my post setting up a coping toolbox. Many famous people throughout history have kept journals such as Anne Frank, Kurt Cobain and poet Sylvia Plath. I’ve kept journals off and on since high school and it’s great to go back and look through some of the old ones to see how things have changed.
The other day I went back through an old journal and realized that in some situations where at the time I thought I was right, I was actually wrong, selfish and insensitive. That doesn’t mean I went and beat myself up over the past, it just gave me a better understanding of the situation and the person I was then compared to the person I am now and the person I want to become.
Journaling is a great way to express yourself, to relieve stress, to work out emotional and relationship problems from the past and present, to better understand yourself, capture life events and become more mentally and emotionally healthy. Check out 100 Benefits of Journaling.
One of main problems of keeping a traditional journal or diary is privacy. I know I’ve been reluctant to truly express myself in paper-bond journals out of fear of someone else reading it. I’ve also had the misfortune of breaking the trust and privacy of someone I love by reading their personal journal, so I understand the fear of invasion of privacy that keeps many people from journaling altogether.
Thankful there are now many different ways to keep a journal and I encourage everyone to at least try an online journal. Sure you can keep a journal as an encrypted text file on your computer, but it is not as easily available as an online journal that is available from any computer that has internet access.
Many people try to keep journals using Google Docs or similar programs, but most good online journals have close to military grade encryption where no one, including the site owners can/will read your private thoughts. They also have easy ways you can add pictures, print your pages if you so choose to, email them to yourself, even email a page to someone else, annonymously if you want.
When it comes to online journals, there are many to choose from and feel free to do your own research, but here I’ve put my top three recommendations:
- Penzu– it’s what I am currently using. They offer a free and easy way to keep an online journal and promise military-grade encryption and 256-bit SSL encryption. You can upgrade to the Pro version of Penzu for $20 a year which for the most part just allows more customization, but it’s not necessary to upgrade or pay. The free version still offers many features and gives you a great place to record your private thoughts. Penzu is one of if not the most popular online journal and I highly recommend it.
- 750 Words– encourages you to write 750 words a day, which is about 3 pages. It is private and a simple way to just get your thoughts out. Their tag line is “Private, unfiltered, spontaneous, daily”. I like 750 words a lot and they send you simple emails everyday to remind you to write, I just couldn’t get into the habit of using it as much as I use Penzu.
- My Therapy Journal– this online journal is unique in the fact that it is therapy oriented and can be used by those with and without issues they may be in therapy for. For those who are actively in therapy, this is an absolutely great tool and one I actually encourage over Penzu. The one thing I do not like about My Therapy Journal is that you have to pay for a one month ($5.99 per month renewed and billed monthy), three month ($4.99 per month renewed and billed every 3 months) or annual ($2.99 per month renewed and billed annually) membership. I’m not too keen on an online journal that forces you to pay, but like I said, if you are actively in therapy then this is definitely worth it and you get 14 days to try it for free.
There are many different options out there, but these are my top three. If you have any others you would like to add please post them in the comments section.
Regular writing has many, many benefits from improved mental health to creativity. Finding a place you can trust with your thoughts is important and I hope this helps with that discovery.