This post contains affiliate links. Read the full disclosure here.
Journaling has the power to transform your life.
I have been increasingly looking into the benefits of journaling so thought it would be useful to share my findings with you.
This post is for anyone that hasn’t started journaling yet, or is currently journaling and wants to take it to the next level.
The benefits of journaling do not take long to take shape.
According to a study by Cambridge University, writing for 15 to 20 minutes a day for three to five times in a four-month period helped the participants to lower their blood pressure and see increased liver function.
This is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the benefits of journaling.
Let’s dive in and find out more.
What is Journaling?
Journaling typically involves keeping a written record of our thoughts and emotions around particular events in our lives.
It’s often used as a way of expressing difficult feelings into healthy and creative solutions.
As you write down all your thoughts and emotions, it forces you to take a step back, slow down, and pay close, careful attention to everything that is currently happening in your life.
Journaling also allows you to create a meaningful connection with yourself. This is just as important as having close connections with your friends and family.
The art of journaling can take many forms which I will touch on later in this post. However, for simplicity’s sake, it is simply expressing your feelings on paper.
The General Benefits of Journaling
Before we dive into the more scientific benefits of journaling I think it is useful to highlight some of the most common anecdotal benefits that are widely recognized among people who journal regularly.
- A journal can help to increase your long term general well being, reduce symptoms of physical pain, and improve the quality of your sleep.
- It helps you to improve your commitment and self-discipline.
- Help you to become more grateful.
- Enable you to become a friendlier person and generate positive feelings.
- Gives you the chance to reflect both positively and negatively on what is happening in your life and allows you to make the necessary changes.
- It leads to higher levels of optimism, which improves your happiness and health.
- Allows you to develop a record of key lessons and learnings over a period of time which you can use to shape your future actions.
The Benefits Of Journaling For Depression
Depression is one of the most challenging mental health issues of today.
Even more challenging is finding effective ways to help people suffering from depression.
However, it is encouraging that there are multiple health studies that look at the benefits of journaling for depression.
Here are the key points of the most important studies:
- A study in 2005 revealed that journaling has the ability to significantly lower symptoms of depression in women who had suffered abuse from their partners.
- A later study in 2006 has shown that journaling has helped to reduce the rumination and brooding of students who are known to be more vulnerable to depression and anxiety.
- A fairly recent study reveals that just 20 mins of expressive writing every day for 3 days helps to lower symptoms of people who have been diagnosed with Major Depressive Disorder
- Journaling has been shown to lower depressive symptoms in high-risk adolescents by the same level as CBT (cognitive behavioral therapy)
- Journaling has also been shown to moderate the impact of intrusive thoughts on depressed individuals.
It is clear there is a strong correlation between journaling and lowering symptoms of depression.
It helps those individuals to maintain a more positive outlook on life and lowers the impact of negative thoughts.
The Benefits Of Journaling For Stress Management
Journaling can also be an extremely effective way for people to lower their stress levels and possibly prevent more serious mental health issues.
Elizabeth Scott, a wellness coach that specializes in stress management and quality of life says that having and writing in a journal helps you to release tension and allows you to explore all your thoughts and emotions.
Here are some of the most prominent benefits of journaling for stress management:
- It can strengthen your immune system
- It can negate many of the side effects of stress
- Helps to decrease symptoms of asthma, arthritis, and other health conditions
- Allows you to examine and study your thoughts through a different mindset
- Improves cognitive functioning
It is clear from the above that there are many benefits of journaling for stress management and it is a really useful tool to have in your armory in times when you are feeling stressed.
Better still, make journaling a habit every day and you may find that you generally feel less stressed.
The Benefits Of Journaling For Anxiety
Another benefit of journaling is that it can help to lower stress by helping you to work through your anxious thoughts.
If left, anxiety has the capacity to lead to more stress and rumination.
Journaling can be used as an extremely powerful tool to both examine and alter your thoughts from anxious to focus orientated and ambitious.
Similar to depression, the benefits of journaling for anxiety are well documented.
It can help by:
- Clearing your mind of intrusive thoughts
- Improving your self-awareness
- Releasing everyday stress and pent up feelings
- Helping you to detect emotional triggers
- Helping you to measure ongoing progress
There are also scientific studies that back up the benefits of journaling for anxiety:
- A 2008 study by LaClaire says journaling can reduce physical symptoms, health problems, and anxiety in women.
- A 2012 study shows that journaling helps students better manage their stress and reduce levels of anxiety which improves classroom participation.
- Another study in 2012 shows journaling can help lower anxiety for patients with multiple sclerosis.
The Benefits Of Journaling Every Day
Journaling is definitely a strong contender for being one of the most important habits you should do daily.
There are lots of additional anecdotal benefits to journaling that have not yet been covered in this post. I will outline in a list below:
- Unfolds the writer in you
- Allows freedom of expression
- Is fun, playful and sometimes humorous
- Exercises your mental muscles
- Starts the sorting and grouping process
- Expresses and creates
- Plants seeds of growth
- Improves career prospects
- Increases breakthroughs
- Helps you to live life to the fullest
- Enhances self-expression
- Creates more results in life
- Offers progressive inner momentum to static unrelated events
- Focuses and clarifies your desires and needs
- A move towards wholeness and growth, to who you really are
- Integrates life experiences and learnings
- Explores your spirituality
- Improves congruency and integrity
Know Yourself Better
- Helps in connecting causes to effects
- Helps you see yourself as an individual
- Reveals your processes – how you think, learn, create and use intuition
- Helps you identify your values
- Shifts you to the observer
- Clarifies your thoughts, feelings, and behavior
- Reads your own mind
- Connects you to the bigger picture
- Creates awareness of beliefs and options so you can change them
- Reveals outward expression of yet unformed inner impulses
- Reveals your greater potential
- Creates mystery
- Reveals the depths of who you are
- Reveals different aspects of self
- Is honest, trusting, non-judgmental
- Act as your own personal counselor
- See yourself as a larger, important, whole and connected being
- Reduces past bad memories
- Integrates peaks and valleys in life
- Balances and harmonizes
- Strengthens your sense of yourself
- Recalls and reconstructs past events
Creativity & Intuition
- Awakens the inner voice
- Improved sensitivity
- Interprets your symbols and dreams
- Directs intention and discernment
- Provides insight
- Enhances self-trust
- Increases memory of events
- Bridges inner thinking with outer events
- Offers a deeper level of learning, order, action, and release
- Holds thoughts still so they can be changed in the future
- Increased stability
- Detaches and lets go of the past
- Re-experience the past with an adult mind
- Helps to disentangle thoughts and ideas
- Releases pent-up thoughts, frustrations, and emotions
- Reduces the scatter in your life
- Improved focus
Strategies For Journaling
So you have read through all of the benefits of journaling and now you are probably thinking where on earth do I actually start on my journaling journey?
Below I will highlight two different schools of thought on effective ways to journal.
There is no right or wrong answer and you can adapt parts of each to suit you.
If you feel more comfortable journaling in entirely your own way then that is absolutely fine too.
Baikie and Wilhelm lead the way on some of their work on journaling and offer up the following tips to make sure you get the most out of your journaling:
- Try to be consistent. Aim to journal at least once a day over a three/four day time period.
- Write in a place which is free from distraction
- Reflect after your writing
- Structure your writing in any way you feel works for you.
- Your journal is private. Keep it for your eyes only and away from friends and family
Another useful strategy to follow is that of the Centre for Journal Therapy. They like to use the acronym: WRITE.
- W – What to write about? This can be anything that is happening in your life right now, your goals and aspiration, thoughts, and emotions. It really is up to you.
- R – Reflect. After writing, take a few moments to be silent and focus on what you have just written.
- I – Investigate. Delve deep into your thoughts whilst you are writing. Once you are on a roll just keep going.
- T – Time. Set yourself a goal for the amount of time you want to journal for. If it is 10 minutes set a timer to go off once the 10 minutes is up. This will help to build discipline into your writing.
- E – Exit. Have a plan for ending your journaling time. Read over what you have written and take another moment to reflect. Sum up the experience of today’s journaling in two short sentences.
Hopefully, this post has highlighted some of the key benefits of journaling and some have resonated with you.
Journaling can improve all areas of your life from personal growth, mental health, and helping to know yourself better.
Luckily it is something that doesn’t need to be done every day for you to see the benefits.
If you haven’t journaled before, start off small – once a week – and gradually build from there.
Don’t Miss A Thing
Follow us on:
Or why not subscribe to The Growth Reactor and get all the latest self development tips straight to your inbox every week?
Enter your name and email address below to subscribe.