Journaling has always been touted as a great way to process emotions or remember moments you don’t want to forget. But does journaling really benefit you? The short answer is yes. But we can let these clinical trials speak for themselves before we get into the reasons you should journal.
A randomized controlled trial was published in JMIR Publications that revealed that web-based journaling with a focus on positivity could serve as an effective intervention for “mitigating mental distress, increasing well-being, and enhancing physical functioning among medical populations,” essentially improving ones quality of life.
Another study found that not only was writing beneficial to emotional wellness it could also help injuries heal faster. I know, I know, it doesn’t sound possible. We’ll break it down. The study was conducted on 49 healthy adults between the ages 64-97. The patients wrote about upsetting events or daily activities for 20 minutes three days in a row two weeks before a medically necessary biopsy. 76% of the adults in the study were fully healed 11 days later while only 42% the control group (which didn’t journal) had recovered. This all has to do with the release of cortisol (stress hormone) levels that occur when journaling. Cortisol impedes the immune system therefore lowering your cortisol levels can help you heal!
But if these clinical trials didn’t convince you enough here is a list of other reasons to put your pen to paper or just start typing out your thoughts!
1. Organizing your thoughts
Journaling can help you organize whatever your thoughts are – whether it be feelings you have about something, or ideas you are trying to work out. Sometimes keeping everything in our minds can leave us frazzled and exhausted from trying to navigate it all. Writing these thoughts out can provide clarity.
Journaling provides you with a space to release pent-up stress or thoughts. But another side of that habit is that it allows you to reflect on whatever you are writing about and recognize how you feel about it. Self-reflection is one of the keys to self-improvement and writing is one of the best possible ways to accomplish that.
3. Remember moments you don’t want to forget
Some moments in your life are ones you never hope to forget. A family gathering, a fun night with friends, a particular date with your significant other, a trip you went on, or simply just a day you want to remember. Journaling is a way of memorializing those days not only to help you remember the day itself but also so that you can look back on that journal entry and look back on your memories.
4. Reduce stress
We mentioned this reason to journal in the clinical trials but it’s been proven that expressive writing can reduce your cortisol levels. If you find that you are often stressed journaling might be a step you can take to reduce your stress.
5. Improve your writing
This isn’t often considered a reason to journal but there is a reason so many great writers have kept a journal. The more you practice your writing the better you get! Even if you aren’t looking at journaling as a way to as a way to improve your writing the simple act of writing itself will gradually make you better!
6. Releasing pent-up feelings
Every day things happen that make us feel a certain way, but trapping those feelings inside can often feel overwhelming. Writing out your feeling is a way of releasing those bottled up emotions – ultimately helping you feel better!
7. Achieve goals
Writing out your goals creates a level of accountability that is different from simply keeping them in your mind. Whether those goals are big or small is of no matter – simply writing out your goals and your will to achieve them makes them all the more real and you all the more likely to accomplish them!
So you want to journal? But how do you get started?
Start small. Often there is a pressure to journal every day that can seem overwhelming and ultimately disheartening if you don’t follow through. Start with writing when you can, the less pressure you put on it the more likely you will be to make it a life-long habit. If it helps, you can dedicate times in your day to focus on journaling but the key is to find what works for you and not to feel disheartened if you forget! There is never a wrong time to start again.