Explore the Mental Health Benefits of Journaling
Did you know that journaling can have positive impacts on your mental health?
Writing encourages reflection, emotional healing, and has a number of other benefits. Today we’ll explore the psychological benefits of journaling, including writing tips that you can use to help develop a positive journaling habit.
Psychological benefits of journaling
Writing can help us explore our thoughts, make peace with ourselves and our pasts, dissect our days, and much, much more:
Mindfulness. Writing pushes you to be more mindful, and mindfulness correlates to overall happiness.
Emotional IQ. Journaling helps you process, and therefore understand, your emotions. This increased self-awareness allows you to be more empathetic with others, and with yourself.
Improved communication. Writing also strengthens your communication skills, which will come in handy throughout your life.
Train your brain. Writing can help you learn and retain information better.
Practice gratefulness. Actively expressing thankfulness can dramatically improve your mental well-being and overall happiness. Journaling is a great way to acknowledge these positive feelings.
The physical benefits of writing
Writing doesn’t just benefit your mind, it can also help your body. Recent research indicates that expressive writing (writing about emotions and stress, for example) might help improve immune function in patients with illnesses like HIV/AIDS, asthma, and arthritis.
In the studies, there were two groups of patients. One set wrote about “emotionally neutral” subjects, like their daily plans. The other group wrote about things like the most stressful event of their lives. Patients in the latter group experienced greater improvements in their diseases and physical health.
How to get started journaling
Sitting down to write is simple enough, but turning daily journaling into a consistent habit requires some more finesse. Therefore, try to identify the methods that get you excited about journaling.
If you prefer paper and pen, look for a journal that you love seeing on your nightstand. A nice, leather-bound notebook or something with an eye-catching print could become an item you treasure and look forward to using. The same goes for your writing instrument — find a pen or other tool that you enjoy using.
Next, choose a time to journal every day. You could even set a reminder for yourself in your calendar each morning or evening. If you’re low on time a quick 10 minute journaling session will still be beneficial, so try not to let time constraints become a mental roadblock.
Not sure what to write about? Start with writing down some things you’re grateful for, and why. You could even answer some questions from the timeless Proust Questionnaire. As a bonus, you’ll learn about yourself as you write down your answers and explore your thoughts.