5 Reasons Why You Should Start Journaling Today

If you have been wondering why so many people seem to love journaling but you have never really gotten into it so far, then this article is for you! Journaling has many benefits – it is not just good to foster creativity but also helps to work through all kinds of hardships that we all go through in the course of our lives. We all eventually face conflicts or stressors that we have to process and this is exactly where expressive writing can be a promising tool to support you. While of course journaling is no replacement for psychotherapy there are still amazing ways in which journaling can benefit you.

1. It improves your mental and physical health

Expressive writing can improve your mental health by helping with things such as distress, depression, anger and anxiety. Furthermore, it also helps with physical health by improving functions of the immune system, disease outcomes and physical symptoms. Expressive writing also seems to improve other areas of life such as social relationships, cognitive functioning and performance in school or at work. [1] In addition, expressive writing interventions also help to recover from stressful experiences [2] and – in today’s fast-paced world – we can all make very well use of this!

2. It fosters creativity

Another benefit of journaling is that it fosters creativity. In her book, The Artist’s Way, Julia Cameron describes a method called morning pages, which includes writing three pages every morning with the aim to help break through creative blocks [3]. While this of course sounds beneficial to artists, it also is useful in everyday life because creativity is not just about drawing or painting but creativity is valuable in all kinds of creation – from cooking to doing yoga.

3. It helps you work through difficult experiences

Journaling can help to construct a coherent story about one’s emotions, which is healthier to process them than in a chaotic way. [4] The construction of a coherent story paired with the expression of negative emotions can work together in a therapeutic way. Especially through potential new insights gained by journaling and by using causal links in writing, considerable improvements often follow. [5]

4. It lets you tell your story

Expressive writing in this way can also be a way to change perspective and course correct your life because it makes you look back at your life and evaluate the experiences you have faced so far, who you are, what you are doing with your life and why you are doing so. Journaling can help you make sense of your life, search for meaning and wisdom. Journaling can help you live with a feeling of satisfaction, peace and gratitude. [6]

5. It is easily accessible

Journaling is a very fast and inexpensive method. The only thing you need is a notebook and pen; and you are ready to go! In order to benefit from expressive writing you also do not need to write for any given amount of time – a study found that even just 2 minutes of writing on two consecutive days lead to fewer health complaints. [7]

So how do I start journaling?

In studies, the recommendations often are to write about experiences that you are thinking a lot about during the day so you can start to process what happened. [8] Furthermore, it seems best to do the journaling at home in a private setting [1] and in hand writing if possible because this helps in processing thoughts and feelings more deeply than typing because of its slower pace. [4] In addition, when journaling it seems to be beneficial to focus on emotions and cognitions around stressful or even traumatic events instead of just emotions – because this prevents you from ruminating about the negative emotions surrounding this experience. [9] But really write in whichever way and about whatever you want to! Because studies showed how both trauma and positive experience writing helped with self-reported health complaints. [7] So despite some kinds of journaling potentially being a little better than others – the important thing is that you just start writing!

References

[1] Frattaroli, J. (2006). Experimental disclosure and its moderators: A meta-analysis. Psychological Bulletin, 132(6), 823–865. https://doi.org/10.1037/0033-2909.132.6.823

[2] Boals, A., Murrell, A. R., Berntsen, D., Southard-Dobbs, S., & Agtarap, S. (2015). Experimentally reducing event centrality using a modified expressive writing intervention. Journal of Contextual Behavioral Science, 4(4), 269–276. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jcbs.2015.10.001

[3] Cameron, J. (2002). The Artist’s Way: A Spiritual Path to Higher Creativity (Anniversary). New York: Jeremy P. Tarcher/Putnam.

[4] Friedman, H. S., & Silver, R. C. (2007). Foundations of Health Psychology. Oxford University Press, USA.

 [5] Pennebaker, J. W. (1993). Putting stress into words: Health, linguistic, and therapeutic implications. Behaviour Research and Therapy, 31(6), 539–548. https://doi.org/10.1016/0005-7967(93)90105-4

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Melanie Bamert

Melanie Bamert

Melanie Bamert is a psychology student from Switzerland who is passionate about holistic health and wellbeing. She works in psychology research where she focuses on motivation and behavior change. Mel also loves to be outside in nature with her puppies, practice yoga daily, and spend time with her loved ones.
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