As a teen, we called it keeping a diary. We wrote our dreams, fears, fantasies and woes in a little book kept under lock and key or hidden under our mattress. The very act of writing was cathartic and helped us sort out our feelings and solve problems by getting them out of our head and down on paper.
As adults, we call it journaling, and it is still a super healthy way of dealing with all that life throws us, good and bad. Even if you only write (or draw) for a few minutes every day, journaling has many benefits including physical, emotional and spiritual.
If you aren’t already journaling, maybe these reasons will entice you into giving it a go. Make it a resolution for the New Year and reap the rewards – your mind, body and spirit will thank you.
Benefits of journaling include:
A stronger immune system
Psychologists say that journaling strengthens the body’s immune cells by helping you come to terms with stressful events so that the impact of stress on your physical health is reduced.
Research indicates that people who use their writing to better understand their emotions, so as to get past feelings of anxiety, gain the most benefit.
Reduced stress and anxiety
This is the key to many other benefits. Journaling lets you work through worries and feelings of anxiety before you spiral down. Getting your thoughts on paper helps bring perspective and identify any thoughts or beliefs that are distorting reality.
Journaling about your anxieties calms your nerves and helps you find solutions to any problems.
Injuries heal faster
Tap into the physical benefit of calmness. One study says journaling about trauma helps your body heal 4.4 times faster than if you didn’t journal.
Pain and trauma can increase your body’s level of stress hormones like cortisol, which weaken your immune system and lead to slower healing. Writing about whatever you are worrying about lowers your cortisol levels and allows your body to heal itself quicker.
Learn more from your experiences
Whether in business or life in general, when you journal and reflect on the day, you’re more likely to draw lessons from what you’ve gone through.
The practice of writing can enhance the brain’s function of processing, retaining, and retrieving of information. Journaling lets you connect with ideas and concepts you encounter, so you can apply them to your own situation, and better solve your own problems.
Do you toss and turn at night, worrying about tasks that didn’t get done that day?
Journaling can help with that!
Studies suggest that people who write to-do lists and journal about the tasks they need to complete fell asleep much faster than those writing about completed tasks. Write a very specific to-do list for about 5 minutes at bedtime as the more specific the list the faster the study participants fell asleep.
A to-do list helps your mind tie up those loose ends that unravel during sleepless nights.
Writing about positive events before bedtime also helps.
Improved communication skills
Journaling helps you to better express and understand yourself, allowing you to better communicate your feelings to others. You learn to identify and label thoughts and emotions, and express them rather than bottle them up.
So many problems at work or in relationships come from misunderstandings. Writing leads to clear thinking and that gives you the ability to communicate clearly, thus reducing opportunity for misunderstandings.
Journaling gets you used to putting your emotions into words so talking about your feelings becomes a lot more natural and easier to do.
Achieve your goals more easily
Committing your goals to writing is a big step towards achieving them.
Journaling helps affirm your goals and create a practical plan towards achieving them. It also helps you identify blocks to achieving your goals such as self-doubt or limiting beliefs.
Journaling lets you track your progress and see what’s working and what’s not. It’s also a record of your past accomplishments, which can be very heartening on days when you feel nothing is going right.
Improves your memory
Simply writing something down improves your ability to remember it.
When you write by hand it signals to the mind that what you are writing is important, so it activates the brain cells that help you focus and process at a deep level.
When you go to retrieve that information ie remember it, it is quite easy to do so because your brain has given your writing high priority.
Enhances your sense of gratitude
Focusing on the things in life that bring you joy and happiness makes you feel more optimistic about the future and better about yourself.
Lower blood pressure, improved immune system and better sleep also result from keeping a gratitude journal.
Expressing gratitude may also make you less materialistic as many of the things people notice they are grateful for are about their environment and their relationships rather than things you purchase.
Boosts your creativity
Journaling gives free rein to dreaming, wondering and expressing your thoughts and ideas without fear of criticism or comparison to others.
There is no ‘should’ in journaling – it is what you make it. You are free to write, draw, collage, press a leaf … do whatever best expresses your thoughts and emotions.
Your journal is also a great place to collect the things that inspire you for example quotes, ideas, images and insights. These notes can provide amazing content for your use at work or play.
And more mental health benefits!
There seems to be no end to the ways that journaling makes you feel better about both yourself and life in general.
People say journaling helps them improve their mindfulness, self-esteem and confidence. It also helps fight the symptoms of depression, and recover from traumatic events. Journaling lifts your mood and helps bring calmness and clarity to your day.
To start journaling
- Make it easy – Buy yourself a beautiful journal – something you love having in your hands. Use a pen that flows and feels good to use. Keep these handy so you can write not only at your designated time, but when inspiration strikes.
- Try to write something every day – Set aside a few minutes each day for journaling – it’s important so make it a priority. Including journaling in your morning routine gets your day off to a great start as you will be clearer and calmer.
- There are no rules – Let words or drawings flow freely. There is no set structure, no expectation of what it should or shouldn’t look like. A journal is where you get to be you and do what you want, say what you want.
For creative ways to journal, check out 7 Fun and Creative Ways to Journal in 2022
Through journaling, you find your voice – your authentic voice.
You find the freedom to be YOU.
And aren’t you worth a few minutes a day to be YOU?