The benefits of journaling for mental health are not limited to the usuals like improving your mood or coping with your day-to-day stress and struggle. They go beyond these by helping you to analyze your life and take actions that help you grow.
Talking about journaling might take you back to your teenage days of maintaining those pretty diaries and ranting your heart out. Or, do you remember the English Writing class where the teachers taught you about writing a diary entry? The purpose behind that exercise was to help you become aware of your thoughts and put them on paper. Well, the good news is it works like a charm in adulthood too.
Journaling has been around for a long time. There are so many advantages of journaling because it put things in perspective, especially when you are lost in life. When you are constantly wondering about your purpose and passion in life, journaling can improve your vision. When you are clueless to find solutions to your problems, journaling allows you to seek them from within.
Hence, today I am talking about the benefits of journaling for mental health and how it can improve your well-being by clearing your mind.
9 Benefits of journaling for you [ +200 journaling prompts for beginners free pdf]
There are multiple benefits of journaling for mental health. It is one of the cheapest and most effective wellness tools available to you. Journaling helps you to discover the parts of yourself that you have been hiding for a long time. Along with releasing your stress, it also helps you to recognize people and situations around you.
It doesn’t matter how technology-driven we become as a species. The old-school charm of using a pen and paper to brainstorm your ideas or journal your thoughts will always be an authentic approach to “figuring out” life. Journaling helps you to build a relationship with your mind.
Let’s get into learning some amazing benefits of journaling for mental health that will ease your mind and bring you back to the moment:
1. Journaling can help to manage depression
When you are sad, hurt, or angry, expressing your thoughts can become harder than usual. But, it is important to get those depressive thoughts out of your mind. Journaling lets you release these harsh feelings. Instead of staying stuck with them, journaling helps you to vent them out. It is a powerful form of self-expression that can resolve your complex feelings. Journaling moderates the impact of depressive thoughts and reduces them.
Journaling is not a substitute for professional help under severe circumstances. But, in cases of mild depression, it helps you to build a bridge between the negative scenarios and your reality.
2. Journaling allows you to rediscover yourself
Your early years are the foundational years of your life. It’s time for experimenting and try different things to understand who you are, to discover your passion and purpose. But, sometimes, self-discovery takes a lot more time than others. You get puzzled and confused about what you want for yourself. Journaling gives you a much-needed pause. By journaling, you open the doors of reconnecting with yourself. Writing down your feelings helps you to understand your preferences in life. It clears the air around your dreams and desires.
Change is the rule of life. We are constantly evolving. Journaling allows you to listen to yourself, witness these changes and know yourself better as you grow in life.
3. Journaling is beneficial for anxiety
If you are an impulsive person, journaling can improve the way you react to situations. With so many distractions at our fingertips and a life filled with social media comparisons, anxiety has become a common concern. Journalling helps you to slow down, clear your mind and acknowledge yourself at the moment. It is an important tool to reach to roots of your anxiety which stems from negative self-talk. Writing about your strengthens and struggles improves your self-awareness and helps you to acknowledge your triggers.
The easiest way to cope with your anxiety through journaling is to record your progress periodically. I journal my progress every Sunday and it has only improved how I see myself.
4. Journaling helps you in stress management
It has become easy to feel overwhelmed while you juggle different roles in life. Journaling helps with everyday stress by allowing you to release those negative thoughts on paper. A 2018 study concluded that emotional journaling increased people’s well-being and reduced their stress. Journaling doesn’t have to be forced. You don’t do it for anyone else. It’s for your peace of mind. Hence, you can ramble and go on for pages and pages until you feel lighter with your head and heart.
Keeping a journal and using it as a stress management tool can keep you from pushing yourself into anxiety or depression. It helps you to understand your feelings and acknowledge them.
5. Journaling with gratitude improves your life’s quality
Practicing gratitude is a lifestyle. People who cultivate gratitude in their life are more content with what they as compared to those who are always in search of seeking more. Gratitude journaling is an effective way of accumulating positive experiences. A study showed that gratitude journaling was linked to improved well-being and reduced stress. After a month, the same study recorded greater resilience in the participants along with lesser symptoms of depression and anxiety.
Positive affect journaling led by thoughts of gratitude holds the power to improve the quality of your life. It takes you off from what’s not working by letting you focus on what’s going right.
6. Journaling improves your memory
Do you remember the good old days when the teachers asked you to learn things by rewriting them? Some research suggests that journaling can improve your memory. It frees up your cognitive resources for other significant mental processes by releasing stressful thoughts. A 2001 study concluded that students who journaled their deepest feelings had better short-term memory. They also got higher grade points both after the experiment and in the next semester. Expressive writing helps by simplifying and organizing scattered memories.
Journaling keeps your brain in shape by boosting your comprehension power. It also improves your cognitive processing by increasing your working memory capacity.
7. Journaling can help you recover faster
Journaling (combined with professional guidance) has also been concluded as an effective therapeutic tool for people seeking recovery from traumas. It can help you heal and overcome your emotional struggle of staying in the spiral of those traumatic thoughts and feelings. A traumatic experience can change the direction of your life. If you (or someone you know) are suffering from the repercussions of a traumatic event, journaling can help you reconnect to the good in life and get back on track.
By coping with painful thoughts that may trigger a relapse, journaling gives you a chance to process the loss and reduce your grief. It solidifies your sense of self and identity.
8. Journaling helps you to process your emotions
The human mind is wired to get disturbed and concentrate on situations that may not turn in your favor. It is easy for it to incline negative thoughts and emotions. Journaling helps by separating yourself from this negativity. You don’t want to stay in a pool of thoughts that don’t serve you. Journaling gives you the opportunity to recognize these thoughts and makes it easier for you to manage them. Your dairy becomes a safe space for you to process your emotions and detach yourself from the ones that hold you back.
Journaling allows you to control your emotions. This helps you to understand how to proceed with your next step by giving you a clear of your needs and desires.
9. Journaling can improve your immune system
Coming from all the benefits of journaling for mental health you just read, here’s a bonus. Journaling also impacts your physical health. We just read how journaling helps ins stress relief. Well, lower stress means a decrease in the release of stress hormones like cortisol and adrenaline. The overproduction of these stress hormones impacts the immune system negatively. Thus, journaling can improve your immune system and lower the risk of illness. Journalling for 15 to 20 minutes can lower blood pressure and improve liver functionality.
According to a 2013 study, expressive writing or journaling also healed the participants’ physical wounds faster as compared to those who don’t journal.
Now that we have understood the benefits of journaling for mental health, let’s brush up on some scientific facts about this free writing therapy.
Scientific facts about the benefits of journaling:
The human brain is divided into the left and right hemispheres. While the left hemisphere does all the analytical and rational thinking, the right hemisphere enjoys the freedom to wander and play. Journaling or expressive writing access the left side of your brain. This means that the right hemisphere of your brain is free to do what it does best: create, have intuitions, and feel. This is how expressive writing removes your mental blocks. It allows you to use your brainpower to understand the world around you in a better way.
With journaling, your creativity flourishes and it creates a big difference in your mental health as shared above.
According to a 2008 article published in Scientific American, even blogging releases dopamine and reaps similar therapeutic benefits as pen and paper writing. Similar to journaling, blogging also regulates your emotional response and improves your mood.
What to write in a journal? How can you start today?
As the synonym suggests, journaling is all about expressive writing. Building a journaling habit is not just about the benefits we talk about or the facts we just read. It is also about focusing your energy and attention on habits that can make a difference in your life and improve it.
Let’s cut the chase and be real for a moment. There is a lot of chaos going on in the world right now. It could be personal, professional or maybe even your mind is at battle with you. The truth is you cannot fix everything at the same time. You’ll have to start somewhere and climb up the ladder step by step.
I practice and preach “one thing at a time, one day at a time”. To witness real changes in your life, you will have to start with habits that will lay the foundation for these changes. And journaling is the easiest and most effective of them all. It keeps you centered by holding a mirror in front of you that shows your strengths and weaknesses.
You don’t have to sit with a blank notebook and wonder what to write. Just start writing by focusing on the basics like;
- What did you do today?
- How are you feeling today?
- What are your plans for the next 3 to 4 hours?
- Did you do something good today?
- What are the things you are grateful for at this moment?
These are some very basic questions you can ask yourself to begin your journaling habit. Let simple things stay simple, don’t complicate them. All you have to do is be brutally honest with yourself while you journal. You don’t have to pretend or “look good”, just be who you are. Nobody is going to see it.
If you want to do deeper on self-reflection and self-analysis, here’s a free resource filled with excellent prompts for different aspects and situations of your life. This compilation of more than 200 journaling prompts for beginners will help you to align your thoughts and feelings with actions that will create a difference in your life.
Journaling can do wonders to your mental health if you practice it the right way. Journaling is meant to free you from the prison of negativity. So make sure you don’t allow it to consume you. Live your life to collect the experiences as they come.
There is a lot of advice online when it comes to journaling. I journal for pleasure and write for a living. Thus, I can vouch for journaling for that feeling of lifting a heavy weight off my chest whenever I am not feeling good.
In the end, I hope this piece gave you a better understanding of journaling and all the benefits, facts, and experiences it can bring to you.
Remember, your journal is for you and you only. Keep this in mind when you express those thoughts. Make sure you vent out without any filter. You are free to be who you are with your notebook. All you have to do is spare a few minutes every day to become a better version of yourself. Even if it is just by 1 percent a day.
So tell me, are you keeping a journal?
Will you try answering these free prompts after reading this blog? If you do, make sure you come back and share your experience in the comments below.
Thank you for reading and happy journaling!!!