I think there are two types of people in the world — the ones who buy a brand new notebook, planner or journal with excitement for a new beginning, to chronicle a new journey or adventure or track progress in a new way, and then there are the ones who roll their eyes at the first group. As you might have guessed, I'm in the first group.
I buy new notebooks and journals like they are an investment, and they are when you think about all of the benefits you receive from keeping a journal. And yes, the benefits go far beyond chronicling the crushes you had in grade school or even keeping secrets from your siblings when you were young.
Writing in a journal as an adult offers multiple long-term health and wellness benefits that go beyond simply expressing yourself on paper. Here are some interesting ways that keeping a journal may benefit you.
Yes, keeping a record of your thoughts and feelings can help you navigate your emotions, but did you know that writing about stressful events in your life can help you manage them in a healthy way? We all know how much damage stress does to our physical and emotional health. Studies have shown that writing in a journal for 20 minutes at a time for as little as five times in four months was enough to lower blood pressure and improve liver function. Journaling is also a great way to help de-stress at the end of your day or start your day with a positive mindset. By identifying how you're feeling in a specific moment, it helps to create space between your thoughts and reality, similar to how mindful meditation works.
Improve Your Immune System
I know, feels hard to believe, but it's true! Writing in a journal can help decrease your risk of illness by strengthening your immune cells. We already know it can help improve liver function, but it also can improve lung function (it's been known to help combat symptoms of asthma) and symptoms from chronic diseases. It's even been reported to help wounds heal faster, protect against inflammation and reduce pain. According to the American Psychological Association, practitioners have used writing practice to help with chronic stress, traumas and to support stronger immune systems for years.
Improve Your Memory
Keeping a journal helps boost your memory and comprehension, and can increase your working memory capacity, which has been known to improve cognitive processing. Working memory is used to plan and carry out behavior. Writing down something that has happened not only helps you remember it more specifically, but also helps you recall emotions and behavior tied to the event. Journaling can be a literal extension to your memory by capturing information and feelings you may forget over time, but it also helps to make your memories more specific with the action of writing them.
Did you know that writing in a journal has been proven to boost your mood and give you a greater sense of overall emotional wellbeing and happiness? Similar to cognitive behavioral therapy, journaling can uncover harmful thoughts that can contribute to anxiety symptoms and depression. Once you are aware of the negative, repetitive thoughts, you can learn to replace them with affirming ones instead. I use affirmations all the time in my journals, and writing it down helps me to remember them throughout the day.
Improve Emotional Health
As you continue to write and develop journaling habits, you naturally become more in tune with how you're feeling and connecting that to your needs. Journaling provides perspective and awareness, allowing you to be mindful of what you're feeling and why. It also helps your brain regulate emotion and helps you recognize patterns and behaviors. By clearly identifying how you feel, you gain clarity, boost your well-being, and decrease avoidance. It's a great way to address uncomfortable issues or feelings without pressure.
Now that you know why you should be writing in a journal and the many ways it can help you, you may be wondering how or where to start. Sometimes sitting in front of a blank page can be daunting and overwhelming, which is counterproductive to why you wanted to start in the first place. I always find a good place to start is to simply start writing thoughts down. Even if the thoughts don't necessarily make sense or aren't complete sentences. This is for you, so you don't need to worry about writing properly or doing it a certain way.
Sometimes, putting words and thoughts that come to mind on a page can be therapeutic, even if it doesn't read as a narrative. If that doesn't work for you and you need more inspiration, feel free to
download the Free Journal with Writing Prompts that I created, to help inspire writing your thoughts down on a regular basis. It offers writing prompts that may just inspire you to write more and often.
And feel free to share some ideas of your own in the comments. It's always fun to inspire one another with ideas to write!