The Benefits of Keeping a Journal

Not too long ago, you could say I was in a bit of a rut. Health problems and money issues were bogging me down, and the fact that my husband and I had just recently moved to a new state meant that my support group was far and away (of course we skyped and texted and talked on the phone, but sometimes you really just need a hug from your mum…) I woke up in the morning scared and unsure. I could tell something was brewing inside that was making me sad and was holding me back from accomplishing much more than just getting out of bed in the morning. I had lost touch with myself.

One day, as I was walking around a bookstore, AKA ‘my happy place’ and I stumbled across a Moleskine product stand. It had been awhile since I had journaled, and the simple black cover and empty lined pages were beckoning to my very soul. My sad, heavy soul. I needed to do something to lighten it. I picked up a journal and made my way to the checkout stand.

It sat around my house for a few weeks. Then I carried it around in my purse for a few days, promising that I would write in it later, later, later… I was afraid to face the facts.

But then, one rainy morning (the rain always inspires me) I made my morning coffee, grabbed my journal, and poured some of my heavy soul into it. I cried, I laughed and I faced the facts. I kept at this routine for the next few days, and it didn’t take long for me to recognize some patterns in my day to day life that I can work on.

 

Over the weeks, the improvements were noticeable, not only to myself, but even to my husband and close friends. I felt less anxious, and more able to tackle my personal problems. After doing a little reading, turns out I’m not the only one who feels this way. Tons of studies have been conducted on journaling and it’s health benefits. Here are five benefits that I found in my research that I can personally attest to.

CLARIFICATION

It’s easy to get lost in your own head. We sometimes put up roadblocks for ourselves, so we don’t have to think about the scary or unpleasant things. But writing in a journal is a safe place to sort it all out and put on paper the things that are really bothering you, or the things you really want in life. Sometimes, it just takes seeing it written down to fully grasp those concepts. And it’s easier to deal with something, once you know what you are working with.

REDUCE STRESS

Writing down and facing your personal issues has proven to reduce stress. And who couldn’t use less stress in their life?

RECOGNIZE PATTERNS

Sometimes after you’ve been journaling for a little while, you might notice some repetition. It might be a frustration, or an insecurity. Once an issue has been established, it’s easier to come up with a strategy plan to overcome it. Or you might recognize a happy pattern! Like an appreciation for a supportive spouse or a relative, or happiness in your job or a hobby. Recognizing these patterns can remind you to be grateful of the things you have, and add to your self confidence and sense of self.

IMPROVED HEALTH

Long term journalers have reported improvement in immune system functioning, increased or improved moods, and an enhanced sense of psychological well being. These are just some of the reported health benefits from practicing expressive writing in your journaling.

IMPROVE YOUR EMOTIONAL INTELLIGENCE

Emotional intelligence or EI is defined as ‘the ability to recognize one’s own and other people’s emotions, to discriminate between different feelings and label them appropriately, and to use emotional information to guide thinking and behavior.’

Being able to identify your emotions and process them in a safe and productive way is a a very helpful skill to hone. Recognizing patterns in your journaling can help you to recognize what makes you feel certain ways, and gives you the time to reflect.

 

Now that you know the benefits of keeping a journal, read my article with tips on how to start a journalling routine.

 

Journaling helped me get myself back on track, and now it is a part of my routine that I thoroughly enjoy. I’m happier and less afraid of all the scary unknowns that had previously been crippling me. 

Are any of you out there avid journalers? I would love to hear about how journaling has helped you!

 

References:

http://apt.rcpsych.org/content/11/5/338

https://idea.library.drexel.edu/islandora/object/idea%3A281/datastream/OBJ/download/Written_emotional_disclosure__what_are_the_benefits_of_expressive_writing_in_psychotherapy_.pdf.

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