You may think that journaling is just a teenager keeping a diary about their daily drama with their school nemesis, their parents’ “ridiculous” expectations, or their latest love interest, but it’s much more than that. As a matter of fact, journaling is scientifically proven to provide all kinds of benefits, from stress management to empowering individuals to take control of their life. So, before you dismiss the idea of writing your thoughts down every night like you did when you were a tween, consider these 10 amazing benefits of journaling.
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Benefits of Journaling
1.) Journaling Reduces Stress and Anxiety
Daily stressors have a way of building up in our systems. Work, traffic, bills, responsibilities all play a part in the anxiety and stress that we collect and hold on to. So much so, it manifests itself physically in the form of achy muscles, headaches, fatigue, and other ailments. Journaling enables you to release some of these stressors and anxiety by getting them “all out”. Instead of internalizing them, expressing these troubles on paper serves as a release valve so to speak.
The American Psychological Association wrote a piece called A New Reason for Keeping a Diary which showed that improvements made by journaling can free up cognitive resources to help individuals cope more effectively with stress. Think about it. We all have stress, it’s inevitable. The issue is being unable to cope and handle stress well. Journaling allows us to manage stress more effectively.
2.) Journaling Helps with Self-Reflection
I kept a journal pretty consistently when I was in college. Looking back at the journal now gives me so much clarity on who I am today. My hopes, dreams, and challenges from today compared to what seems ages ago allows me to better self-reflect. For instance, my challenges back then are minuscule and almost laughable compared to today, yet for me at that time I was facing a mountain. Seeing these types of comparisons does two things. First it helps me put things in perspective today. I wonder if my frustrations and stressors now are going to be laughable 10 years from now or even a year from now? Second, it allows me to see how far I have come in life.
Start journaling today, and in a year from now review what you wrote. You’ll see how far you’ve come as a person, and it will help you keep life in perspective.
3.) Keeping a Journal Benefits Your Memory
One of the benefits of journaling that many do not know about is its ability to improve your memory. Studies show us that the more senses we invoke during an experience the stronger the experience is imprinted on our minds. This is why a smell, or a song, can instantly bring back specific and powerful memories. Journaling works in the same fashion. By writing things down, you imprint them in your mind with more emphasis.
I had an acting teacher who gave us some tips and strategies on memorizing scripts. One of the methods she taught us was to write the script down, by hand, line by line. This tactic helped me greatly because I couldn’t memorize a line to save my life. Now I’m much better. You movie producers out there have nothing to worry about!
How awesome would it be to be able to recall memories more easily? Pretty amazing right? If you struggle to remember things, journaling is your chance to improve.
4.) Journaling Can Benefit Depression Management
Nothing can take the place of a mental health professional in managing depression but even most of them will suggest journaling as part of an effective treatment plan. This is because the benefits of journaling on depression and expressing your emotions in writing is backed by numerous case studies.
One study had a group of individuals who were diagnosed with Major Depressive Disorder journal for 20 minutes over three days about their deepest thoughts surrounding an emotional event. Before they started journaling the participants completed a series of questionnaires and cognitive tasks to measure their depression scores. What they found after the study, was that the participants had shown significant improvement in their depression scores, which persisted even 4-weeks after the study. This was all due to daily journaling.
There are many other studies like this one that show the tremendous benefits of journaling on depression. As you can see, keeping a journal is not just a teenager’s hobby.
5.) Improves Your Overall Happiness and Positivity in Life
Journaling gives you not only the opportunity to write down your daily experiences, but also the opportunity to get super focused and intentional about your thinking. What we focus on in life becomes our reality. So even if you journaled about your crappy day, you can still include things you were grateful for and the positive things that happened in your life that day. By keeping at least some of your focus on positive experiences, you will significantly increase your overall happiness and positivity in life.
Too many people walk around being negative, even if great things are happening for them. They pay little attention to the amazing experiences and opportunities they have and give too much thought to irritations that in the grand scheme of things mean nothing. If you tend to do this, journaling is your opportunity to change. You can journal away your negativity with just a sheet of paper and a pencil, but some journals are specifically formatted to help you focus on living a happier more positive life, such as a gratitude journal or a positivity journal. There are all types of journals out there that will help.
6.) A Benefit of Journaling Is That You Make Better Decisions
Another benefit of journaling is that it helps you make better decisions. The results we have in our life is directly related to every decision we make. Even the small decisions. By journaling, you can express different views and ideas on decisions you have to make and you can also use daily journaling to evaluate decisions that you’ve already made. Since our decisions have so much influence on our day to day, what we keep in our daily diary shows clearly and definitively how much our choices affect our lives overall.
If you are stuck and you don’t know what decision to make, journal about it. I can’t guarantee that your decisions will always work out for the best, but I can promise that overall, you will make better, more informed decisions that could transform your life.
7.) Inspires Creativity
Journaling doesn’t strictly mean you have to write down your day to day. It can be for anything! You could write ideas for short stories, you can draw (a visual journal is awesome for this), you can be creative in every way you can think of. Journaling will bring out thoughts and ideas that you never knew you had and will help get those creative juices flowing.
8.) Journaling Helps You Deal with Trauma and Life Changing Events
Daily journaling helps you deal with trauma and life changes the same way it helps you manage stress, anxiety, and depression. By expressing your thoughts and emotions in written form you can deal with life’s challenges more effectively. For instance, you can use journaling to challenge your fears about the situation. You can use journaling to keep your overthinking in check. You can also use journaling to challenge your beliefs about what happened or what is happening.
A good friend of mine used journaling to manage her thoughts and emotions during a major breakup in her relationship. She said it really helped her to analyze things from a logical perspective that had been overshadowed by the powerful emotions she was having such as fear, loneliness, and unworthiness. By writing things down expressively, she was able to look at things from all perspectives and it made this troubling time more manageable for her.
If you are going through a major change in your life or dealing with a traumatic experience, journaling will help you get through it.
9.) Keeps You in the Present Moment
Another amazing benefit of journaling is that it keeps you in the present moment, which is also called mindfulness. Practicing mindfulness has many benefits. These include reducing stress and anxiety, keeping you from dwelling on negative thoughts, and improving your overall well-being. By focusing on the here and now you are not stressing about what happened to you earlier, and you are not worried about what’s going on later. You are focused on the present moment and journaling is an excellent way to be in the present moment.
10.) Journaling Declutters Your Mind and Keeps You Focused
I don’t know about you, but I get monkey mind quite often. I can’t stop jumping from one thought to another. It makes my mind feel clogged and cluttered. Journaling helps me remedy this. I brain dump all those thoughts. This brings me clarity and keeps me super focused on the things that really matter.
As you can see the benefits of journaling are many and can improve your life tremendously. From reducing stress and anxiety to helping you make better decisions. Journaling is not just for tweens and teens, but for anyone. Take advantage of the powerful benefits that daily journaling provides.
If you could make the most of just one of these journaling benefits, how would that change your life?