The Surprising Benefits of Keeping a Journal
Keeping a daily journal or diary can do wonders for your mental health, boost your mood and improve your problem-solving skills. What’s more, keeping a daily journal has been found to have significant health benefits. Since the first known diaries were kept in Japan during the 10th century, people all over the world have benefited from this daily reflective practice.
Many addiction treatment centers have incorporated daily journaling into their treatment programs, finding it a useful tool for developing self-awareness and a healthy outlet for all kinds of emotional expression. Visit this site if you’re looking for a women’s rehab that uses journaling as part of its treatment regimen.
Journaling Has Emotional Benefits
Writing about your feelings in a private journal allows you to fully express your sadness, anger, fear, jealousy and other negative emotions. Releasing your feelings in this way mitigates their intensity. When you write down your feelings in a journal, you’ll find that you feel calmer, clearer and more in control afterward. You may still experience the feelings, but they’ll no longer be overwhelming.
A study from Eastern Michigan University suggests that young people may intuitively understand the benefits of journaling as an emotional outlet. The study found that young people are most likely to take up diary-writing during times of emotional upset. Other studies have found that 83 percent of young women aged 16 to 19 keep diaries.
Daily diary-writing gives you quiet time to yourself, since most people seek privacy before journaling. Journaling about the things you’re grateful for or the things that made you happy that day can make you happier in general. Writing about your problems helps you come up with solutions and coping strategies, reducing your stress even further by eliminating some of the sources of it.
In much the same way, journaling about your conflicts with others can help you resolve them, lowering your stress levels and improving your relationships. Journaling may even help you combat negative thoughts and negative self-talk, a source of much emotional turmoil for many, provided you’re willing to physically throw away the negative thoughts after you’ve written them down, according to a study published last year.
Journaling Improves Your Health
Aside from its many emotional benefits, journaling also offers tangible benefits for your physical health. James Pennebaker, a researcher with the University of Texas at Austin, has found that journaling regularly improves immunity by strengthening key immune cells known as T-lymphocytes. Further research supports the benefits of journaling for relieving asthma and rheumatoid arthritis symptoms.
Journaling Makes You More Creative
Keeping a journal may also improve your creative thinking abilities. Evidence shows that writing occupies the left side of your brain, believed to be responsible for rational thought and analysis. This frees up the right side of your brain, which is believed to be responsible for creativity, intuitive thought and emotional responses. With these mental blocks removed, you’re better able to harness your own creative capacities, which may be why journaling is such a powerful tool for understanding yourself and solving problems.
Tips for Journaling Effectively
Anyone can benefit from regularly keeping a journal. Set aside time each day when you can have the peace, quiet and privacy to write for 20 to 30 minutes. Write quickly, without worrying about spelling, grammar or punctuation — resist the urge to self-edit or correct your work. Write about your feelings, frustrations, personal and relationship problems, the events of the day — you can write about whatever you want in your journal. If you’re having problems thinking of something to write about, consider establishing daily, weekly or monthly journaling themes — try picking broad topics like “change” or “confusion.” Many people like to write down a few things they felt grateful for that day. Don’t worry about doing it “right,” because there’s no wrong way to journal.
Journaling can be a great coping tool when you’re facing emotional hardship. It can help you solve problems, become happier and more optimistic and be gentler with yourself. Journaling can even improve your physical health and make you more creative. So go ahead — grab a notebook and start keeping your own journal today!
About the Author: Contributing blogger Briana Rooney has more than 15 years of experience in addiction counseling.