As a child, I was always told about the benefits of journaling. Although, the idea of journaling and keeping a diary seemed like a very “old-fashioned” concept to me, especially as a pre-teen. I tried it when I was about twelve and it definitely didn’t work. It felt pointless writing down the same, trivial things day after day.
However, years after, the diary made a triumphant comeback into my life. Contradictory to my opinion as a preteen, now I understood the benefits of journaling and realized keeping a diary was the best decision I’ve made in years. It changed many things for the better. Thanks to journaling, I was able to understand why I was unhappy with my nine-to-five coding job and discovered my interest in psychology, marketing, and other things I am passionate about.
I used journaling to help me combat my procrastination. Now I have minimized the stress of looming deadlines just by getting things done without creative block, fear of failure, and other anxieties. If you are still skeptical about keeping a diary, just read on. I bet you’ll find some of the benefits described below quite attractive!
10 Benefits of Journaling:
1. It Develops Your Emotional Intelligence
First of all, keeping a diary helps you to identify and acknowledge your emotions. One writing session can allow you to vent your feelings and adopt a more positive attitude. It helps you to identify and address whatever upsetting you in a mindful manner.
You become more skilled in communicating your feelings without projecting your raw emotions on every person you speak to. For example, instead of being irate and cranky, you can say, “I feel very angry about losing time in traffic.” Through recognizing your own emotions, you are more likely to identify the emotions of others and empathize with them.
2. It Improves Your Relationships
Recognizing your fears, effectively communicating them, and being able to put yourself in your partner’s shoes, can create a huge difference in your relationships. If both partners keep diaries, they have the tools needed to resolve their issues as a couple and maintain a strong and healthy relationship. You should never dump your emotions on your partner, you should rather process them and calmly present the problem and an effective solution.
You also don’t let everyday nuisances interfere with your relationships. Instead of bottling up your irritation about other people and lashing out at whoever is the closest (unfortunately, it’s often your partner, friend or family member), you should vent in your diary. If you never tried meditation or do not personally prefer it, try discovering the benefits of journaling instead!
3. It Promotes Your Communication Skills
By physically writing a diary, you often have to find words to accurately describe your emotions, thoughts, and feelings. Through this, you will learn to express yourself in nuanced ways. It may take some time to untangle and label your emotions and identify important things, but with journaling, it becomes easier.
In a month’s time, I guarantee you will see an improvement in your vocabulary, allowing you to become one smooth operator. Once you’ve mastered eloquence in your personal writing, words will come easier to you in emails and verbal conversations as well.
4. It Boosts Your Mood
It doesn’t matter what you write. You may write down all your negative thoughts, keep a gratitude journal, fill the pages with positive affirmations, or even mine for anxieties.
Different techniques serve the same purpose of processing your feelings to lead you to better emotional balance. One of the reasons why keeping a diary has this therapeutic effect is because while you write, you use the left hemisphere of your brain. The left hemisphere is responsible for logic and analysis. This way you can distance yourself from your emotions and approach them rationally.
5. It Enhances Your Health
James W. Pennebaker, a professor of psychology at the University of Texas, spent years studying the power of expressive writing in helping people cope with emotional turmoil, trauma, and PTSD. Most recently, he has been focusing on the ways that words can reveal the psychological states of writers. His research provides evidence that expressive writing helps to relieve PTSD and depression symptoms, recover, and heal. Moreover, the individuals he studied have shown improved immune function and other physical symptoms after a course of expressive writing.
Professor Pennebaker isn’t the only one fascinated with the health benefits of journaling. Research published in 2005 by K.A. Baikie and K. Wilhelm, shows that expressive writing about anxieties and traumatic events (as opposed to simply reciting the events of the day or jotting down plans), brings measurable emotional and physical benefits. It also discusses how expressive writing should be used in psychiatric treatment to supplement therapy and medication.
6. It Acts As A Digital Detox
Writing in your diary immediately after encountering something upsetting can be very soothing. Most often, just writing down and analyzing your thoughts can make you feel better and allow you to forget about any issues and get on with your life.
As a writer, I am constantly facing negative comments. Whenever this starts to get to me I choose to write about it and sometimes even publish my thoughts as a calm and weighted answer in my feed.
Therefore, rather than going on a social media hiatus, writing about your emotions is definitely always a healthy coping mechanism.
7. It Helps You Sleep Better
Better sleep is a natural outcome of keeping a diary. When you are more mindful of your emotions, you are less likely to toss and turn at night ultimately enabling you to get rest.
If you have trouble falling asleep because of stress or thoughts zip-zapping through your brain, try writing in your diary before going to bed. This will empty your mind of any worries and anxieties. Moreover, fine-motor movements of the handwriting are proven to have a calming effect. For this very reason, colouring books are also very popular for stress-relief.
8. It Boosts Your Creativity
The left side of your brain is responsible for logic and critical thinking whereas the right side is responsible for imagination and creativity. When you are writing you are integrating the left side of your brain with the right side of your brain.
When your left and right side of your brain work together, it allows your intuition and imagination to come up with and pin down all your wonderful ideas. An additional benefit of journaling is that it also is a great creative exercise for anyone, even people who aren’t conventionally perceived as “creative professionals”.
This shows us how rather than bottling up your feelings and mourning them, when you discuss things and write them down, it helps your thought process too!
9. It Is Incredibly Memorable
People forget things. They forget how they were, what they worried about, and what used to bring them joy. By documenting your life, you will be able to revisit your past whenever you feel like it. Your diary is your personal chronicle.
Apart from nostalgic value, it gives you some perspective. We tend to perceive ourselves as constant and unchanged. Yet we do change, every year, A LOT. Whether it’s our views or overall personality, we are always becoming wiser. Our knowledge and experiences influence our worldview. It’s always useful to see what you used to think about some things ten years ago. Sometimes it can bring deep insight, but it is always a humbling experience.
10. It Changes Your Life
Good habits tend to trickle down and positively impact all aspects of your life. For example, if you make a rule of de-cluttering your closet once a year, you will be more likely to keep your desk in order too. One cornerstone habit can change your life for the better in many little but meaningful ways. There are many benefits of journaling, it is also a fairly easy habit to adopt!
As Bridget Jones once said,
It is a truth universally acknowledged that when one part of your life starts going okay, another falls spectacularly to pieces.
When you choose to understand the benefits of journaling and commit to writing every day, or every other day, you introduce structure and discipline in your life. This newly found “structure” will start spreading to other areas of your everyday life. You will notice that other healthy routines like exercising or time management, also begin falling into place.