Journaling is an activity once associated with teenage girls and their sticker-covered notebooks; often overflowing with descriptions of childhood crushes, in-depth recitations of the school day or frustrated rants directed at parents. However, this practice is actually harnessed by individuals from all walks of life, for a variety of purposes.
Many people use journals as an opportunity to explore their thoughts, articulate their feelings, reflect on their achievements and set future intentions. This process of introspective contemplation typically provides a heightened sense of clarity and often uncovers subconscious thoughts or knowledge. Beyond self-expression and personal exploration, the health benefits of putting pen to paper (or fingers to keyboard) are increasingly reported, and not just for teenage girls either.
Here are five reasons that you should consider journaling to monitor and continually improve your health.
Whether it is a significant traumatic event or just the stresses of everyday life, journaling allows individuals to clarify their thoughts and feelings, thereby gaining a new perspective. Often a problem that seems unavoidable and disastrous in our mind can be systematically broken down on paper, producing otherwise overlooked solutions. With a greater understanding of our thoughts and a rational outlook, it is easier to manage, reduce and avoid daily stresses.
Improves Immune Function
Journaling doesn’t just control and limit ongoing stressors but also supports improved immune system functioning. By strengthening individual immune cells, our bodies are better equipped to fight off illness and disease. A study by Cambridge University found that individuals who write for 15 to 20 minutes, 3 to 5 times a week experienced fewer doctor’s appointments, improved immune system functionality, reduced blood pressure and reported a better psychological well being overall. These benefits make journaling a simple and effective way to take your physical health into your own hands – literally.
Keeps Memory Sharp
Writing expressively in a journal is found to improve working memory too. By recording the actions of everyday life, your journal gives permanence to an otherwise fleeting moment, increasing the likelihood of remembering intricate details, feelings, and social interactions. Such a systematic and recorded recollection of your thoughts ensures you can hold yourself accountable, learn from your mistakes, keep sight of your goals and move forward in a considered and deliberate manner.
While journaling can inadvertently uncover solutions to troubling issues, it also provides the perspective to understand your thoughts and feelings. This profound act of personal reflection shuts out the loudness of everyday life, allowing you to find gratitude, celebrate your small wins and track your personal evolution. With a greater sense of self and a clearer direction, you’ll experience improved well being and happiness in every aspect of your life.
Strengthens Emotional Functions
Journaling challenges individuals to critically and logically examine their thoughts. Over time, writers become increasingly in-tune with themselves and can clearly identify their inner needs and desires. This connection to self fosters the emotional catharsis and regulation we need to understand our reactions and behaviours. With a deeper self-awareness comes an increased ability to tackle adversity or conflict. This enhanced sense of self also encourages the introduction of other daily rituals that support our vision and purpose.
Where do you start?
Even with the health benefits laid out, the thought of starting a journal if you’re not a writer may seem overwhelming or entirely out of reach. The easiest way to begin is simply to start. Ditch the guilt of being inconsistent or lacking instant motivation and just open a blank page wherever you are. You might write a single line, the specifics of what you ate for breakfast or a list of what you are grateful for today. Just write, be yourself and don’t censor your thoughts. This journal is just for you, after all.
Like most things in life, journaling works in ebbs and flows. Some days your thoughts might pour evenly onto the page in an artistic, understandable and straightforward manner. Other times might feel disjointed, strained and nonsensical. Just embrace the process and reap the health benefits in return.