The Benefits of Journaling That Will Get You Journaling Immediately
For several reasons, we keep journals. We keep particular diaries for various aspects of our lives, such as travel diaries, dream diaries, journals of gratitude, and journals of prayer. Many people used to keep private journals where they would record their thoughts and daily events. Without diarists like Anne Frank and Samuel Pepys, we would not be able to learn anything about the private aspects of our past. Even while many people in today's world have blogs or vlogs and document their lives on social media, very few of us retain diaries in which we can record our experiences. Why not give it a shot then?
Why is Journaling Good for You?
A popular non-pharmacological method for coaching, counseling, and the treatment of mental illness is journaling. In psychotherapy, two types of journaling are particularly prevalent:
Usually done throughout three or four sessions to gain access to the people's deepest emotions and thoughts; the emphasis is on the emotional experience rather than on things, events, or people.
Emphasizing life's positive side by recording the circumstances, happenings, and interactions for which we are grateful.
According to research keeping a journal of one's thoughts and accepting negative emotions and feelings is especially beneficial for promoting mental wellness.
Boosting Physical Health Benefits
Getting out of a never-ending loop of worrying and melancholy
Even if journaling is not done every day, it can still have a good impact on a person's wellness and help them understand their needs better.
Research on Journaling
According to studies, when we write down our thoughts and feelings, we frequently disclose a wide variety and depth of emotional trauma.
Although writing can be distressing, people say that they find it to be worthwhile and significant, and ultimately, an important step in the acceptance process.
In reality, according to self-reports, research points to a variety of physical, mental, and emotional health advantages of expressive writing, including:
Reduces Blood Pressure
Improved liver and lung health
Fewer hospital stays and happier emotions.
Better psychological health
Less depression and avoidance behavior
Decreased healthcare visits due to stress and decreased absences from wor
Less time off work after losing a job.
Higher average grades for students
In addition, research on thankfulness journal writing indicates that participants who consistently highlighted parts of their lives that made them feel fortunate boosted their optimism. There is, however, a warning. Keeping a daily gratitude journal might get boring and even sap our positive energy. A couple of days per week might be adequate.
The Psychology Behind Journaling
The habitual propensity to accept one's mental experiences has repeatedly been associated with better psychological health. According to study results, acknowledging our emotions is related to greater psychological health and productive treatment results, such as elevated moods and decreased or elevated anxiety symptoms.
And here's when journaling might be beneficial. It can encourage acceptance—and thoughtful acceptance in particular—which is a useful and potent means of breaking free and enabling onward motion.
The following psychological processes may be implicated, to a greater or lesser extent, in journaling's beneficial effects on one's physical and mental health, albeit the precise mechanisms by which this occurs are unclear.
Emotional Release: Emotional conflict resolution through the expression of negative emotions.
Increased Processing Cognitively: Spent constructing logical accounts of what occurred.
Recurring Exposure: Increased and extended exposure to stressful situations may result in a decrease in negative thoughts and emotions.
Emotional Restraint: Negative emotions need great effort to actively suppress, which puts additional strain on the body and mind. By confronting them, you might help your understanding and cognitive integration.
There is evidence that both supports and refutes each suggestion. Although the advantages of journaling are obvious, the underlying mechanisms are still not fully understood.
Benefits of Journaling
The therapeutic intervention of journaling is widely employed across various academic fields and psychological theories.
It can help people dealing with various mental health difficulties because it is simple to apply and get started.
Journaling for Stress
You can manage challenging circumstances and decrease their consequences by keeping a notebook. Additionally, journaling may help you avoid burnout and long-term worry. Studies show that putting ideas and feelings about challenging circumstances on paper and writing them out in privacy can help people feel less disturbed.
Writing down our feelings in a notebook can help us manage stress and may even make us more likely to seek out social support. In turn, this promotes emotional recovery and increases stress resistance.
Journaling for Immune Function
It might surprise you to learn that keeping a journal might also boost your immune system generally and lower your risk of getting sick. According to researchers Kay Wilhelm and Karen A. Baikie, participants who journaled for 20 minutes per day on three or more occasions saw the following advantages:
Fewer doctor visits due to stress Better immune system performance
Blood pressure is lower, and lung function is improved.
Improved liver performance
How can keeping a journal just benefit your mental health journal too?
A person can create a "coherent narrative" of their life through journaling. In other words, it permits a person to incorporate the experiences they encounter into their entire worldview.
As a result, one can think more favorably about their life and construct an accurate portrait of who they are in connection to the rest of the world. Therefore, a person who has a positive, holistic picture of themselves is less likely to experience conditions like sadness and anxiety, both of which can result in several mental distress and physical health issues.
Journaling for Depression
According to research, keeping a gratitude and expressive writing journals can help people in therapy address their depression by reducing its symptoms.
Similar to anxiety, such interventions seemed to be more successful when they lasted longer than 30 days. Even while the advantages of journaling may not be as substantial as those for anxiety and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), it still seems to be an effective therapeutic.
Journaling for Gratitude
Journaling has been demonstrated to foster thankfulness in addition to assisting with the management of depression and anxiety and enhancing general physical and psychological health benefits too. Why is thankfulness so crucial, you might ask?
Numerous research has demonstrated the distinct health advantages of gratitude. Increased exercise and better sleep quality, both of which support long-term wellness, are closely linked to gratitude. It has been demonstrated to greatly improve optimism, which has a knock-on effect on your mental health benefits, and happiness.
Having gratitude is associated with lower levels of sadness, achieving goals, and becoming friendlier and more outgoing.
Gratitude may make a huge difference in living a healthy, happy life. By reflecting on all the positive aspects of your life, journaling helps you feel appreciative. Without keeping a journal, it's simple to lose sight of all the positive things going on in your life and descend into sadness or anxiety.
Journaling for Recovery
According to research, journaling, especially expressive writing, can benefit those who are going through or recovering from the emotional trauma linked to PTSD.
Another creative method that seems to provide veterans with long-term support combines writing and visualizing.
Other research supports journaling as a beneficial and successful intervention for addiction rehabilitation.
Journaling can aid in the recovery of women receiving residential treatment for substance use disorders, according to a 2022 study. The intervention "helped participants to recognize positive self-talk about what was positive about recovery, to achieve significant short-term goals, and to feel optimistic and proud of their accomplishments," according to the results.
Journaling for Memory Function
It should not be a surprise that journaling can enhance general memory performance.
Writing regularly helps improve the brain's ability to take in, process, store, and retrieve knowledge. It helps the brain maintain focused attention. increases long-term memory, highlights patterns, allows the brain to reflect, and, when done properly, is a source of conceptual growth and stimulation for the highest levels of cognition.
By keeping a journal, you can keep a record of occurrences as well as process them. This helps you maintain the memories for a much longer period since you are thinking back and reflecting on the specifics of the occurrences.
Additionally, journaling enables you to look for patterns in the past. You might start to notice certain trends in your behavior or the behavior of others as you read back over your notebook over time. Once you recognize these patterns, you can act accordingly.
Journaling for Reflection
It's challenging to analyze our circumstances clearly when under stress or when we're thinking only negatively. Writing in a reflective journal can assist us in establishing the time and distance needed to think about the past, the present, and the future.
The detachment required to accept our sentiments and commit to the adjustments we need to make can be achieved by journaling, which can establish adequate cognitive diffusion (looking at thoughts rather than being in them).
Journaling for Goals & Ideas
Your goals, aspirations, and ambitions for the new year should all be written down in a diary. Keeping a goal notebook will help you keep track of your progress and motivate you to strive toward your next goal.
You may gather all of your thoughts in one place at any time by journaling, which is a benefit. In your journal, you can write down any ideas that occur to you. When you return to these ideas later, you may be able to make new connections, come to conclusions, or even come up with original thinking!
Journaling for Mental Health
Despite the obvious advantages of journaling for reducing stress, we are frequently less ready to put our feelings on paper when we are having the most difficulty.
It's not always enjoyable, after all. We are going back to ideas and feelings that we might have been avoiding. We might experience emotions like sadness, rage, guilt, or anxiety right away after writing time. But over time, writing promotes our long-term mental and physical wellness.
Start Journaling: How to Get Started
The following gives an illustration of a typical expressive writing lesson that can be altered and customized to the circumstance and the person's needs (adapted from Baikie & Wilhelm, 2005, p. 338):
"For the next four days, please write down your thoughts and feelings regarding your most traumatic experience or a severe emotional problem that has had a substantial impact on you.
Try, if you can, to let go while jotting down your most profound feelings and ideas, such as how you relate to those closest to you, your past, present, and future, as well as who you are and how you'd like to be. Feel free to use the same topic repeatedly, or if you'd rather, pick a different one each day.
Do not worry about spelling, punctuation, or style as your work will stay private. Try to write honestly and openly because you are not being judged."
People who are new to journaling or are having trouble getting started can benefit from specific and personalized prompts. Answer one or more of the following questions to get started:
What emotions do the changes in your life elicit? How are you adjusting to changes at work, at home, and in your relationships?
What causes you the most worry or uncertainty? What's up with it, and how are you handling it?
What three blessings have you experienced today, or for which three things are you most grateful?
What are your favorite moments from your life or the lives of your kids?
What do you fear, and why?
What activities do you relish, and why?
What would your closest friend or family member say about you?
What would the ideal day look like for you, and why?
When you're at your best, how would you manage a challenging situation?
What would it look like if you have everything you truly desired when you woke up tomorrow?
What to Remember
I hope these five reasons why journaling benefits will motivate you to start journaling if you haven't already.
Writing in a journal has several advantages, both psychologically and physically.
It enables you to make sense of the things that happen to you, which results in a wholesome perspective on who you are.
You can work through trauma, allowing for the emotional healing of old scars and the development of new perspectives.
Additionally, it strengthens your capacity to recognize patterns in life and your memory of past occurrences.