journaling and EQ

Journaling, EQ and striving towards a better life

Journaling your way to happiness

The Future of Jobs report by the World Economic Forum placed Emotional Intelligence or EQ at number 6 in the top 10 skills we will need in 2020 for us to thrive. For good reason.

EQ is the “capability of individuals to recognize their own emotions and those of others, discern between different feelings and label them appropriately, use emotional information to guide thinking and behaviour, and manage and/or adjust emotions to adapt to environments or achieve one’s goal(s)”

Now, I know what you’re thinking…

This may be easier to say than to do. Today’s world is a fast-paced environment with our wellbeing often taking its place at the bottom of our to-do list.  We can be left with little time to process how we feel as it happens particularly during periods of high stress, leading to a cumulative impact hitting us when we do finally take a breath or when a life situation takes away our choices.

Why Journal?

During periods of high stress, we may want to move away from the strain of the day by ignoring it and trying to switch off. This may or may not work. If you find yourself unable to let it go and it is impacting the rest of your life, why not try journaling how you feel. A journal is a private recollection of your experience of events. EQ teaches us to express in detail how we feel so that we can acknowledge its impact in our lives, understand the root cause and ultimately provide a better outcome for ourselves than an initial reaction may afford us. It can also allow us to let go of feelings that do not serve us.

My Journaling experience

A few years ago I had a high-stress year. I was removing myself from a business where trust had been lost and two close family members died  – all within a 6 month period. There was a lot on my mind, which is why I started a journal on my iPad. Every time something happened to annoy or upset me, I would write it down. When it played on my mind later in the day I would add more colour and description to the language until it fully described me and how I felt.

It became a sort of agony aunt.

I expressed how I felt about situations, people, reactions – mine and others  – and reflected on what a good outcome would be for me.

Sometimes things happened which were unfair – I wrote about that too. My daily journal became a source of information about me, it allowed me to spot patterns and to let go of individual matters as it had been recorded so I no longer needed to hold it in my head. I understood what I felt, how and why I felt it. I wrote inside it every day for over 12 months.

Then when life got better I had no need so I officially archived my notes under “I survived – file closed” . I am in no doubt that my journal kept my responses measured and my output focussed on what I needed as a good outcome for me. Simultaneously, it provided me with the ability to acknowledge rather than burying my very human feelings to what was happening.

What it can do for you

Improving your EQ as a practice is all about recognizing your emotions and describing them to yourself, pausing, and choosing your response. It also allows space to recognise the emotions of others. Journalling certainly allowed me to practice that. I also spotted repeat behaviour and responses in those around me which served to better hone my interaction in a positive way for all of us.

Using journals as a tool for personal development is a well-established practice. According to the International Journal of Learning,

“Narrative journals can be the educational tool to increase and assess student growth in and strengthening of intrapersonal and interpersonal skills.”

I certainly found it helpful for me.

The Science


The idea of journaling for wellbeing is also not new. Dr. James Pennebaker in his book Writing to Heal: A Guided Journal for Recovering From Trauma and Emotional Upheaval” (2004) commented that “wellbeing can be improved through expressively writing about the trauma or upsets in our lives”.  In addition,  the use of narrative or self-reflective journals has been used in therapeutic circles for years as a means of allowing therapists to reflect on how they feel about what they hear in order to not be adversely affected themselves.


Ideas for Regular Journaling.

  • Write when the mood takes you, but try to write regularly at least in the beginning to get into the flow of journaling.
  • Write and keep or write and burn. I wrote as though it were a memoir as I wanted to remember what was happening, I just didn’t want it rattling around my head. If you dwell a lot after writing, consider shredding it or burning it and actively letting it go.
  • Get expressive with your writing. Keep looking for a word or words which describe how you feel and apply it liberally to your writing. It may also help if you choose to share how you feel with others as it will be more specific and more accurate.
  • We talk about writing, you can also draw it if it helps.
  • Read what you have written as though you were a third party. Allow the emotion to remain in the writing, but acknowledge those feelings as to how you feel.
  • Journaling can be for good times as well as the bad times! Do you remember how you felt at your graduation or on your wedding day? Time can change our perception of events and the smallest of details can take us right back there. Journal to remember when times are good and re-read to remember what you are like at your best.

Our Wellbeing Companion Journal


We have a wellbeing journal for you to try. Our wellbeing companion has a monthly and a quarterly information page with ideas and reflections for you to consider. It has a structure around mind, body, spirit and finally, vision. This allows you to consider each aspect of your being, to set goals, record outcomes and reflect on your life. We have a yay day at the end of each week to remember when times are good.

Order yours now at 

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About The Author

Sharon Critchlow

Sharon Critchlow is a Wellbeing Advocate, speaker and facilitator at Discover Your Bounce for Business. Passionate about people being the best they can be she is a Time To Change Champion for mental health and holds a Masters level qualification in strategic coaching for performance. Sharon is a qualified accountant and has 20 years experience in senior leadership roles in the financial services sector.