Journaling is a hot topic right now and while not all of us are wizards with the pen, it is definitely worth trying noting some thoughts, feelings, aims and dream on paper.
In this post we are going to take a some of the positive benefits that come from doing bit of journaling
- Boosting Memory and Comprehension
When you write down your experiences, thoughts and thought processes in the form of journaling, it gives permanence to those thoughts and, in turn, triggers memories of the past, of various events and even the feelings and emotions experienced during those events.
Clarity also gets a boost when you write down what takes place in your life. If you are confused or unsure about a situation jotting down your thoughts and emotions brings focus and attention to the issue. Journaling helps illuminate an issue and further prevents it from fleeing your awareness.
Journaling about a positive experience allows your brain to relive it. And reaffirms your abilities when the ugly head of self-doubt appears. The release of endorphins and dopamine will boost your self-esteem and mood. These reflections can become a catalog of personal achievements that you continue to go back to.
- Evoking Mindfulness
There's a solid link between being happy and practicing mindfulness. When you’re being mindful, you’re only focusing on the present–and writing in a journal helps you be present by putting aside hardships from the past and preventing you from thinking about anxieties about the future.
There are so many documented benefits of practicing mindfulness, some of which include helping improve your sleep, reducing stress, and allowing you to engage in an overall healthier lifestyle. And the more mindful you can be, the easier your everyday life will be as well.
Journaling brings your wandering mind back to being able to focus and actively engage with the present moment and your current thoughts–and this state of awareness in itself is practicing mindfulness. Journaling will help you learn to be alert and concentrate in the moment.
- Healing & Sleep
Expressive writing is a route to healing -- emotionally, physically, and psychologically. Dr. James Pennebaker, author of Writing to Heal has seen improved immune function in participants of writing exercises. Stress often comes from emotional blockages, and overthinking hypotheticals. He explains, "When we translate an experience into language we essentially make the experience graspable." And in doing so, you free yourself from mentally being tangled in traumas.
Studies have also shown that the emotional release from journaling lowers anxiety, stress, and induces better sleep.
- Stretching Your IQ
A hot topic, but strong cases support the ability to change your IQ. A report by the University of Victoria noted that "Writing as part of language learning has a positive correlation with intelligence."
Journaling is an exploration of language, you'll have the natural urge to search for new words and increase your vocabulary. The report goes on to say, "One of the best single measures of overall intelligence as measured by intelligence tests is vocabulary."
- Achieving Goals
We know the importance of writing your goals down on paper. Think of your journal as the blueprint for your life, where you can gain clarity on exactly what you want to accomplish and plan out what you need to do to get there.
Journaling often involves thinking about your dreams and visions for the future, and even though the thought of writing some words down can seem like a stretch when it comes to helping you ultimately achieve your goals–think about how likely you are to achieve anything if you don’t write it down and commit to it.
- Emotional Intelligence
Emotional Intelligence is the ability to perceive and manage your emotions, and that of others. Journaling is an outlet for processing emotions and increases self-awareness. This internal familiarity becomes a bridge of empathy, you'll better intuit and understand what others are experiencing.
Being able to get on the same page with someone is a mark of emotional intelligence, and allows for a much deeper connection.
- Strengthen Your Self-Discipline
Setting time aside to write, whether morning or evening, is an act of discipline. And discipline begets discipline. Like a muscle, the more you exercise it, the stronger it becomes. And habits formed in one area of life have a tendency to spread; as keeping your office clean leads to keeping the bedroom tidy, your daily practice of writing will domino onto other healthy habits.
- Helps Reduce Stress
Research has shown that journaling effectively helps reduce stress. In fact, both physical and emotional benefits are experienced by those who journal. Writing down your feelings is cleansing, illuminating and liberating.
Journaling is cleansing because it helps you sort out your thoughts and emotions; illuminating because it brings your findings to light and liberating because it releases negative pent up feelings and emotions. Expressing yourself in a journal is a healthy way to release the tension and stress you otherwise may be internalizing.
- Improve Communication Skills
"Writing has critical connections to speaking" according to a Stanford report. Journaling is a form of written communication, albeit to oneself. Nonetheless, the subvocalization of tracing your written thoughts naturally translates in actual vocalization.
Of course, anyone journaling must have a deliberate aim to tidy up their writing in order to see benefits in their verbal communication. But making that decision during writing will benefit your speaking.
Putting your thoughts to paper forces you to articulate your ideas and, in turn, find words that express those ideas accurately and concisely. The more you journal/write, the better you get at it and the more your communication skills improve.
- It Can Reduce Symptoms of Depression
If you’re battling with depression, writing in a daily journal can help alleviate some of your symptoms. In fact, in a study of 40 people suffering from major depressive disorder, researchers found that there were significant decreases in depression scores in those who wrote in a journal for 20 minutes every day for a month than those who didn’t.
The participants were asked to write about their thoughts and feelings around a current event in their life that was evoking negative emotions, and at the end of the study, the researchers measured that event’s impact on their life after journaling about it.
Yet another study looked at the impact that journaling had on women who were newly diagnosed with breast cancer. The study measured the women’s feelings and level of depression over the course of 12 weeks, and found that those who wrote more (both in quantity and in frequency) had significantly lower levels of depression than those who did not use journaling as an outlet for their feelings.
Whether journalling is something you practice religiously or just dip in and out of, the advantages are numerous and proven.
So why not grab a pen and paper (or laptop) and give it a try - it might be just the thing for you.