Your guide to sex journalingJournaling. It’s as simple as writing down your thoughts, your ideas or reflections on past experiences.
If you’re someone that keeps a journal, you’re amongst some of the greatest thinkers in history - from Marie Curie to Maya Angelou - many of whom kept intimately personal journals that they never expected to be read by anyone.
For some people, journalling is a necessity of their day. For others, it’s simply an additional means of self expression.
But journaling isn’t just a simple record of what’s happened in your life, it can also be an incredible tool for personal growth.
A brief history of journalingFrom the greatest writers to the humans that history has forgotten, people have been keeping records of their thoughts and emotions for thousands of years.
The ‘modern’ journal was developed in fifteenth century Italy as a form of accounting. The practice grew, and developed, and by the twentieth century it was used for more creative exploits - with many women such as Virginia Woolf, Sylvia Plath and Anais Nin using this method as part of their creative process.
The therapeutic potential of keeping a journal wasn’t really researched or discussed until the 1960s. Dr. Ira Progoff, an American psychotherapist, took the practice he’d been using with his private clients mainstream - teaching classes and workshops on the “Intensive Journal” method. His novel system used writing exercises to help people connect different areas of their lives together: be that their personal relationships, career, body and health, dreams and imagery, and their purpose or meaning in life. This holistic approach was designed to help people work through their issues faster, and the concept was a huge success.
In more recent years, there’s been a variety of new journal methods gaining popularity and success, such as the bullet journal or Best Self.
The rise of social media has exploded the popularity of expressing your innermost thoughts, dreams and wishes in public and private forums. To some extent, we’re all digital diarists.
Why would I want to write a sex journal?
The boom in journaling has also filtered through into sexual wellbeing.
Social entrepreneur Levina Li discovered sex journalling very early into a new relationship:
“My partner Caleb and I started keeping a sex journal about a month into our relationship, and it transformed our lives. Having a ritual of journaling about our sexual experiences, then debriefing with each other opened up so many important conversations that we previously weren't holding space for. It's become an avenue for us to check in and explore, and it's brought us so much closer together.”
After sharing the idea with friends, she brought the idea to life as A Sex Journal.
The benefits of sex journaling
Write to organise your thoughtsJournaling can help you to figure out what your priorities are. They can even signpost things that might be excessively worrying you.
Writing your thoughts and ideas helps your brain separate big, confusing concepts into more manageable chunks, while also improving your retention and recall of information.
Levina says: “Even our couples format starts with individual reflection. Taking the space to check in with ourselves about our sexual experiences provides the opportunity to integrate them—and that's important whether we have a partner or not. Journaling and reflecting with a partner is a way to bring two totally unique human beings a little bit closer. That usually leads to better experiences in the long-term.”
Write to enhance your creativityPutting pen to paper exercises the left side of the brain - the hemisphere associated with logic and reasoning. While that side is busy, the right hemisphere is free to express its creativity. Writing can help you overcome mental obstacles and blocks, and find new, imaginative ways to solve a problem.
Write to reflectWriting lets you carve out the time and mental space to think back over a past experience. Whether it was positive or negative, reflecting after time has passed allows you to consider what happened with additional perspective and insight.
As you document something over and over, it gives you a higher chance of seeing patterns in your own or others’ behaviour. The more you learn about yourself, the higher your resilience and emotional intelligence.
Write to heal trauma and improve emotional resilienceResearchers at UCLA found that if you simply label your thoughts, i.e. “I’m feeling X about this situation”, you can gain more control over that emotion. This labelling disrupts the amygdala, which is responsible for your quick emotional reaction to some kind of stimulus.
Writing doesn’t just have a positive mental effect... one study from New Zealand showed that writing expressively can even heal physical wounds more quickly.
Levina notes: “A ritual of journaling about our sexual experiences opens the door for us to look at what's working for us and what's not. Overall, that gives people a pathway to explore what's pleasurable and what makes them happy.”
Why sex journaling is amazing for womenWe asked Levina why she thinks women can benefit from using a journal to enhance their sex life. She said:
“It's amazing—I often say that confidence in the bedroom equals confidence in the boardroom, which I just noticed is on the Skirt Club website! I think of sex as a microcosm for the rest of our lives. What we bring there is a reflection of what we bring everywhere else.
We're in such an interesting time—I think women's pleasure is still a relatively new concept in our collective consciousness. As much as we talk about it, discovering what works for us is an entire other adventure—and that takes time. Having a ritual, a structure, and a space for that discovery is a commitment to that journey. Keeping a sex journal is a wonderful, simple way of investing in yourself. And I promise that will impact you way beyond your sex life.”
I'm in! What next?As the old adage goes - practice makes perfect. Just get started, and you'll figure out over time what works best for you and gives you the most value.
Using a tool like the Sex Journal takes some of the hard parts out - it provides you with a simple structure to guide your thoughts and your writing. It also contains additional resources specific to sex and relationships that you can explore alone, or with your partner.