It may come as a surprise to some that simply writing down your thoughts can be beneficial to your wellbeing. It seems strange that something as simple as keeping a journal can have a significant impact on your health, but the past thirty years of scientific research suggests just that.
There are a variety of ways to journal, from daily entries in a diary or keeping a log of writing on your computer. Journaling usually explores the thoughts and feelings you have towards life events. Its best when engaged as a daily practice but even sporadic journaling can be beneficial if you focus on emotional processing.
Below are five of the main benefits of journaling to encourage you to get started today.
- It Reduces Stress
Journaling is a very accessible stress management tool. Its free and you don’t need to book a class or be taught by someone. All you need is a pen and paper.
There are three main methods for journaling to relieve stress which are:
This a practice of making daily entries of what you’re grateful for. This can make you more aware of the good in your life and encourage you to appreciate the little things even when times are tough.
This is a journaling practice that helps you stay organised. Most use a bullet journal to keep track of what they have to do each day and any goals they want to work towards. Being more organised is a great way to feel more in control of your life and relieve stress.
Emotional Release Journaling
This is a form of expressive writing about your thoughts and feelings toward any troubling life event. This can relieve stress due to its physical and mental benefits which we’ll discuss further below.
- It Regulates Emotions
Journaling is an opportunity for emotional catharsis. By transferring thought to paper you allow your brain to process the emotions you feel instead of supressing them. By writing down your emotions, you can alleviate their intensity.
Journaling can also help you be mindful and bring a better perspective to any situation. This can be helpful for regulating emotions, as it can be difficult to see past your how you’re feeling in the moment. By bringing a better perspective to the situation, you can better understand what triggered you and ease the strong emotions you feel.
Regular journaling also has the benefit of greater self-identity and confidence. This is important for managing strong emotions and helping you to feel more equipped to overcome any challenge you face.
- It Boosts Your Mood
One of the benefits of regulating your emotions is that you’ll be more able to boost your mood. By recording the details of your day-to-day life your brain is more able to process the emotions that come with life events. This increases your overall sense of wellbeing as you’ll feel happier, calmer and more in control.
By keeping track of your emotions and what triggers them, you’ll become more self-aware. This well help boost your mood as you become more aware of what results in positive feelings and what doesn’t. You’ll be better at seeking out what makes you feel good and more able to avoid anything that doesn’t.
- It Helps With Memory
Keeping a journal improves your memory, comprehension and working memory capacity.
A 2012 study on college students explored how expressive writing about emotional events can significantly improve autobiographical memory. This is beneficial as having more specific memories about your own life can help you to navigate future goals and problems.
Studies in improving working memory, also known as short term memory, have also found that writing expressively about thoughts and feelings is beneficial over other forms of journaling.
Although it isn’t entirely clear why the research shows that expressive writing is better than trivial topics when journaling, you can certainly reap the health benefits.
- It Improves Your Immune Function
Believe it or not but regular journaling actually decreases your risk of illness. Studies by psychologists in the healing effects of writing suggest that journaling about emotions and stress can boost immune functioning in patients with HIV, asthma and arthritis. Expressive writing has also been reported to improve liver and lung function.
Journaling can even make physical wounds heal faster. A study from 2013 found that 76% of adults who spent 20 minutes writing regularly about their feelings two weeks before a medically necessary biopsy had fully recovered eleven days later. Contrastingly, 58% of the control group had not recovered.
To Sum Up…
The benefits of journaling are undeniable, and it doesn’t take a big commitment to start experiencing the effect. Begin with just fifteen minutes a couple times a week and increase from there when you feel ready.
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