Benefits of journaling: 9 reasons why you should keep a journal

Keeping your own diary where you can explore your feelings and thoughts related to the things, people or events of your life has many benefits. Regular journaling can help you to explain your thoughts and feelings in a better way. It does more than improving your communication skills though. Journaling can be a way to deal with stress. If you had a bad day, write down about it, and soon you will see your mood improving and feeling better. Read on to know about the benefits of journaling, and how to get started.

What is journaling?

Journaling is the intentional practice of regularly writing down one’s thoughts, experiences, emotions, and reflections. It involves devoting time to exploring our inner world, processing life events, and documenting personal development, says psychotherapist and life coach Dr Chandni Tugnait.

A woman writing down on her notebook for enjoy the benefits of journaling
Journaling may help to reduce stress. Image courtesy: Freepik

What are the mental health benefits of journaling?

People who commit to regular journaling can gain a variety of mental health advantages, including:

1. May reduce stress and anxiety

Journaling, which was focused on emotions, decreased anxiety, symptoms of depression, and distress in participants during a 2018 study published in JMIR Mental Health. Journaling allows you to express and process challenging feelings, which helps you better manage stress and anxiety levels.

2. May improve mood and emotional intelligence

Writing about your feelings or thoughts can help to understand and regulate your emotions, says the expert. This can result in increased emotional intelligence and mood in general.

3. Increases self-awareness

Putting ideas and experiences into words is a great way to increase self-awareness. It allows people to develop clarity and insight into their inner worlds, beliefs, and motives.

4. Promotes mindfulness

Mindfulness is about paying attention to your thoughts, feelings, sensations, and the environment you are in. The act of journaling anchors people in the present moment, cultivating a greater sense of mindfulness and presence.

5. May boost memory and comprehension

As a child, you must have noticed that you remember things better when you write them down. That’s because writing things down helps solidify information in memory and may increase comprehension and retention.

6. Fosters gratitude and positivity

Journaling doesn’t always have to be about the negative things in life. If you write about pleasant experiences or things to be grateful for, it might help shift your emphasis to appreciating the good in life.

7. Facilitates problem-solving

Discussing things with your colleagues or family members may help in solving your problems. You can also keep a journal, as problem-solving is facilitated by writing down issues and brainstorming solutions. It can bring new views and innovative insights.

8. Keeps you motivated

We all have big or small goals in our life, and we must have made some progress. Documenting those goals, strategies, triumphs and progress may be a great source of motivation and confidence, says Dr Tugnait.

9. Provides a safe space for self-expression

Journals provide an environment in which you can openly explore your thoughts, feelings, and personal truths without fear of censure. There will be no one to judge you or criticise you, so you can write down whatever you want.

A woman writing on a diary and enjoying the benefits of journaling
Ten minutes is all you need to enjoy the benefits of journaling. Image Courtesy: Shutterstock

Journaling tips for beginners

For beginners wishing to begin a journaling habit, here are some tips:

  • Set up a particular time each day, even if it is only 10 to 15 minutes, to make it a must-do component of your routine.
  • If you are having trouble deciding what to write about, try using questions to get started. These could be thought-provoking questions regarding your day, feelings, or objectives.
  • Use your notebook for self-reflection and discovery. Consider your values, beliefs, strengths, and opportunities for growth.
  • Journaling is not just for obstacles; celebrate your accomplishments, no matter how minor.
  • Write poems, short stories, or song lyrics.

Journaling vs other stress management strategies

Journaling is not necessarily better or worse than other stress-reduction activities such as gardening, listening to relaxing music, or meditation, says Dr Tugnait. Each approach has distinct advantages, and the best technique is ultimately determined by a person’s tastes, needs, and circumstances. While journaling allows for creative writing and self-reflection, gardening offers a peaceful connection with nature. Music can induce relaxation through auditory stimulation, and meditation promotes present-moment awareness. Rather than competing, these strategies can be used as complementary tools in a comprehensive stress management strategy. The idea is to experiment with several strategies and include the ones that resonate the most profoundly and efficiently to reduce stress for your personal well-being.

What are the drawbacks of journaling?

Journaling has numerous benefits for mental health, but it is necessary to be aware of some potential drawbacks:

  • For some people, discovering and expressing profound feelings through writing can be overwhelming or triggering, particularly when dealing with trauma or highly sensitive issues.
  • If not done properly, journaling can lead to compulsive fixation on bad thoughts or events, worsening anxiety or despair. It is critical to preserve perspective and balance.
  • If you share living spaces or your journal is open to others, you may be concerned about privacy and the potential of intimate ideas being exposed or misinterpreted.
  • Developing a continuous journaling habit demands effort and time management, which can be difficult for people with hectic schedules or a lack of self-discipline.
  • For people who are prone to harsh self-judgment, writing can become an avenue for excessive self-criticism or negative self-talk if not addressed with self-compassion.

Journaling is a powerful tool that can help people to reduce stress. When practiced consistently, it can create a private space for honest self-reflection, but make sure to write about the good things in life as well.

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