Although for some, the thought of opening up a notebook, writing 'Dear Diary', and proceeding to re-count every detail of the day, may seem... cringey (or at the very least, tedious), there are many reasons why NOW is the best time to start your own journaling practice. If the afore-mentioned process doesn't appeal to you, keep on reading - in this article we will share the benefits of journaling AND some alternative ways to get started.
Why You Should Try Journaling
It Helps Ease Symptoms of Depression and Anxiety
There is a substantial body of scientific research that shows that journaling (especially 'expressive writing' that focuses on feelings) can help minimise the symptoms of depression and anxiety, and the impact that they have on patients' lives. Read more about research evidence by clicking here!
It Helps with Stress Management
Journaling is a well-known technique for managing stress-levels - both in terms of lower level everyday stress, and for processing bigger traumatic experiences (although for this, it often needs to be used in conjunction with professional therapy).
Lower stress-levels are also tied to other benefits, in relation to physical wellbeing and cognitive functioning.
It Boosts Motivation and Self-Awareness
Journaling can be adapted to suit your personal goals. If you want to boost your motivation, writing about what you want, visualising it, and thinking about how you're going to get there can make a big difference. If you want to look within and build your self-awareness, taking a meditative approach and using prompts could be very helpful.
It Can Improve Physical Health Too
There is growing evidence that journaling can also be beneficial for physical health (likely as a direct result of its stress-regulating properties). Research has linked journaling to a stronger immune response, and decreased symptoms of asthma and rheumatoid arthritis.
Different Forms Of Journaling Practice
What you write in your journal doesn't need to make sense - in fact, one of the good things about it is that the process can help you make sense of a situation. Free writing is one of the best ways of doing this. Set yourself a timer - it can be just five minutes and try and write continuously. Don't worry about grammar or punctuation or spelling or readability - just write. It may even just be the same word over and over again. This method can help draw out of your sub-conscious the things that are really bothering you, or allow you to recognise what is dominant on your mind at that given moment.
This is a very quick daily exercise that can make a big difference to your life! Just take a moment to write down 3 things that you are grateful for every day. Done in the morning, it can put you in a good mindset for the day, or if done in the evening, it can help you end the day on a positive note. Expressing gratitude daily is a research-backed way of improving long-term happiness - even more so than other journaling practices.
If you are looking to gain self-knowledge through journaling, this may be one of the best methods for you. Begin your practice with a prompt - which may be a question or a sentence starter - to help direct your reflections. There are many journal prompts available online - for example, here.
Some of our favourites include:
What is the biggest challenge in your life right now?
Write about the happiest day of your life (this can be a memory, or a day that hasn't happened yet)
What does 'home' mean to you?
If you could spend a week anywhere in the world, where would you go? What would you do?
If you had to choose one thing in your life to 'do-over', what would it be?
A Sentence A Day
Even quicker than five minutes of free writing - just coming up with one sentence per day. Whether you write about one moment of the day that stands out, your feelings, or a brief summary of events, it's up to you! There are many one-sentence (or one-line-a-day) journals available on the market if you prefer to have prompts included in a structured way - but you can just as easily do it yourself, in a notebook, a Word document, or even the 'Notes' app in your phone.
If words aren't your thing, journaling still can be. Art journaling is completely versatile - it can be a doodle, a sketch, a collage, embroidery, or sculpture... whatever suits you. Creating something everyday, or even once a week, can be beneficial in terms of building memories and self-expression.
Did you find this blogpost helpful? Leave a comment to let us know your thoughts, or share it with your friends and family so more people can experience the benefits of journaling!
Check out some related blog posts:
Intermountain Healthcare - 5 Powerful Health Benefits of Journaling
Kaizen Journaling - 5 Ways To Use Journaling For Motivation
PositivePsychology - 28 Benefits of Gratitude and the Most Significant Research Findings
PositivePsychology - The Science and Research on Gratitude and Happiness
Psych Central - 64 Journaling Prompts for Self-Discovery
Psych Central - The Health Benefits of Journaling
University of Rochester Medical Center - Journaling For Mental Health
VeryWellMind - The Benefits of Journaling for Stress Management