Journaling is an ancient tradition that dates back to at least 10th century Japan. In addition, successful people throughout history have kept journals. So what’s all the hype about? Research has shown a multitude of powerful health benefits – physical, mental, and emotional. Here are 8 ways it can improve your wellbeing:
- It relieves stress.
- Writing about painful thoughts and feelings can help you to let them go, which in turn relieves stress.
- It reduces anxiety and depression.
- Journaling can reduce anxiety and depression by giving you a place to express problems, fears, and concerns, and identify the causes so that you can develop a plan to work through them.
- It helps you to clarify your thoughts and feelings.
- The dialogue in our heads can often be all over the place. Taking the time to put your thoughts and feelings on paper can help you organize them, and thereby understand and clarify how you feel.
- It decreases worry.
- Allowing yourself to put your worries into words and write them down can help you let them go.
- It boosts your immune system.
- As you reduce your stress, you improve your immune function.
- It improves your mood.
- Letting go of negative thoughts and feelings, reducing stress, anxiety, and depression, and decreasing worry all help to improve your mood.
- It helps you get to know yourself better.
- The more you journal, the more you will begin to recognize your thoughts and patterns and find ways to work through the things that you struggle with.
- It increases self-esteem.
- The better you know and understand yourself, the better you feel about who you are.
With all of these benefits, it might seem like keeping a journal would be a simple choice. However, for many people it can be overwhelming to figure out what to write about, how often or how much time to spend writing, and other details. There is no right or wrong way to journal, but here are a few simple tips to help you get started:
- Choose a time of day that you know you can carve out some quiet, uninterrupted time. Many people choose first thing in the morning, before others in their family are awake, or just before bed.
- Aim for 15 minutes a day, 3 days a week to start. Work up to 20 minutes daily.
- A fancy journal isn’t necessary, but if having something special will motivate you to write in it, then by all means, get one! A favorite pen can also be a nice touch.
- If you don’t want to hand write your entries, try your computer instead. Penzu is a great online journaling platform, but you can use whatever word processing program you have on your computer, too.
- Don’t worry about grammar, punctuation, or neat handwriting. Remember, your journal is for your eyes only.
- You don’t need to choose something special to write about, just let your thoughts flow!
Still unsure? Finding a journal with guidance and prompts can be a great way to start. Check out my books – Motivated Mornings: A Guided Journal for Making the Most of Every Day, or Finding the Silver Linings: A Guided Journal for Increasing Your Optimism.