Struggling with stress, anxiety, and other negative emotions? You may find some relief in chronicling everything you’re feeling and thinking between the empty pages of a notebook.
Since journaling has many benefits, many mental health experts recommend intuitive writing as a way to release toxic emotions and maintain sound mental health.
And why not? Journaling is easy, cheap, and you can do it anywhere. Starting a journal is a great idea with several benefits.
Why don’t we take a look at some of them?
Journaling benefit #1. Reduces Stress
Sometimes, our thoughts can overwhelm us and our inability to deal with them leads to anxiety, stress, and at times, even depression. Repressing our emotions is harmful and influences our overall health and well-being.
Journaling is cathartic because it gives us an outlet for everything that’s going on inside, including emotions that we try to hide. Since the pages of a notebook won’t judge, we can be ourselves without fear of rejection or being reprimanded.
#2. Helps Us Reach Our Goals
If there’s a goal that we’re trying to reach, journaling can help us become aware of obstacles that are keeping us from achieving our goals. It encourages us to think deeper and reflect. Once we’re able to process a problem internally, we can think about what we can do to deal with it.
Journaling thus helps us review past mistakes, learn from them, decide on a resolution, and move forward.
#3. Improves Emotional Intelligence
Our emotional intelligence is defined by our ability to identify, understand and deal with our emotions and the emotions of those around us. Stress and anxiety can take that away.
When we’re able to resolve our internal conflict, we become more empathetic and compassionate human beings. We gain the ability to put ourselves in other people’s shoes and respond in less selfish ways.
#4. Better Memory
Which are you most likely to remember — information that was just presented to you or information that was presented to you and you were asked to write down in your own words?
In a study, 35 university students were asked to write down their feelings and thoughts about college life for seven weeks while another group was asked to write about trivial topics for the same length of time. After the experiment, the first group showed higher memory gains than the second.
#5. Improves Physical Health and Immune Response
A paper published by the Cambridge University Press claims expressive writing improves not just mental health, but physical health too.
From increasing your chances of fighting diseases like asthma, rheumatoid arthritis, cancer, and AIDS to speeding up the process of healing wounds, improving liver function, and reducing blood pressure, journaling can have a range of positive effects on our physical health.
How? Journaling helps us regulate our stress levels and responses. When we pen things down in our journal and actively look for ways to eliminate the problem, we decrease our body’s stress levels which in turn stunts our body’s stress response.
#6. Boosts Creativity
Writing engages our entire brain. The left side allows us to write, analyze, and form logical connections while the right side of our brain is the creative side that fuels our imaginations and inspires us to birth all kinds of fantastic ideas and stories.
Taking this fact into account, it’s easy to see how journaling healthily engages both sides of the brain and unlocks creativity.
Additionally, it also allows us to make connections and look at things from different perspectives. When you experience a mental or creative block, journaling can thus help us direct our brain back to the path of productivity.
#7. Reduces Depression Symptoms
Another benefit of journaling daily is that it can help us battle depression. While journaling can’t eradicate depression completely, it can significantly reduce its symptoms by giving individuals the opportunity to release pent-up emotions, fears, and intrusive thoughts.
Journaling can also help us identify patterns and triggers for depression, an important part of managing the condition. By knowing the things that lead to depression, we can learn to avoid them if possible and know how to cope with them if they should occur.
Other benefits of journaling include:
A Note for the Journaling Novice
There’s no right or wrong way to journal. Whatever works for you works. This is the one place where you don’t have to get the spelling or the grammar right. What’s important is that you’re honest with yourself and don’t avoid any of the feelings or thoughts that you normally would.
All the things that people might judge you for, sentiments that may be less than politically correct, and thoughts you might be ashamed of are welcome and encouraged when it comes to journaling.
Some even like to combine their scribbles with drawings. You can do that too if you’re so inclined.
Don’t expect the benefits we mentioned above to happen overnight though. Journaling is a process. You might not feel that comfortable writing down your feelings as you start out but confidence and honest self-expression will come with time as long as you keep doing it.
Don’t be too hard on yourself and take each day as it comes. Be patient, and all those journaling benefits will become a reality in due time.