Journaling has many benefit to our mental and physical health. Sometimes when we think of journaling, we picture a young girl sitting writing in a pink notebook of how her day was. We might consider it to be childish and not hold so much thought to how much good it might bring into our lives.
In this post, we will dive into 13 benefits of journaling. But first,if you have no idea on how you can start journaling for mental health or what journaling is,check out my detailed guide here. It will take you step by step on how you can create a journaling habit for mental health.
What are some of the benefits of journaling?
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1. Journaling enhances your communication skills
When you take out your journal to write, you are able to understand your thoughts and feelings. It ,therefore, becomes easier to express your thoughts in your journal. This in turn helps you know how to express yourself to others.
You are able to identify when you are having a bad or good day and the cause of that. The more you understand your thoughts and feelings the better you are at also standing up for yourself. If someone or something is deteriorating your peace of mind, then you are able to tell the person to stop hurting you or to get rid of what is hurting you.
The good news is that journaling is a skill which can be learned like any other. One trick for checking and improving your writing skills is to read it aloud. Reading text forces you to slow down and you may pick up problems with the flow that your eye would otherwise skip over. This in turn helps you to be a good communicator through writing. You not only become good at writing in your journal but also in other areas.
Checking for poor writing and spelling mistakes should be seen as a courtesy to yourself as it helps you improve on your writing even though you are not writing a formal letter. Taking your time to reread what you have written in your journal is as important as writing. If you do not know the spelling to some names you are free to google and learn them. Communication skill is practical. You only learn by doing.
2. Journaling helps in reflecting and learning from experiences.
Writing about your day helps you reflect on it and ask yourself some tough questions. Was it a good day? Did I achieve my objectives from this day? Was I my best self? What would I have done to make it better? Is there anything I can improve on?
Reflection often leads to growth when used well. It helps you draw lessons from your bad and good days. You are able to know the mistakes you will not be repeating and what works for you. You can only learn by reflecting.Writing it down and then reading what I’ve written helps me reflect on what happened and live through it all again.
What is reflective journaling?
Reflective journaling is the activity of writing both your experiences as well as your interpretation of those experiences.
Reason to start a reflective journal
- It gives you the opportunity to look at a situation from different perspectives.
- Gets thoughts out of your head so you can look at them objectively.
- It allows you to share your life learning with others. Ultimately you can pass your journal on to your children as your autobiography. Then can then pass it on to their kids.
- You are able to unveil your values and beliefs.
- Gives you a deeper understanding of your life experiences.
- It gives you the opportunity to review events in your life to see patterns and themes.
- Helps you understand who you truly are.
- It allows you to learn from your past so you can live your future aligned with who you are.
- A reflective journal allows you to live life as an experiment. You make assumptions about underlying reasons for events which can be compared to the underlying reason of future events.
5 tips to consider when starting a reflective journal.
- When you are writing, just write. Don’t worry about grammar and spelling or how neatly you are writing. Get the thoughts and ideas down first and then go back and correct grammar and spelling.
- As much as possible write about the experience with as much detail as possible before you start analyzing and interpreting the experience.
- When describing the experience really step into the experience and try to relive it. Describing the experience in this way will make the experience real when you review it in the future.
- Create notes during the day when the experience happens to remind you to journal the experience later.
- Review your journal regularly, especially what you have learned from the experience. It is best if you are using some form of a digital journal to be able to find what you have journaled in the past.
3 reflective journal prompts to use
- What happened?
- Why did it happen?
- What can I learn?
3. Journaling helps in managing anxiety and stress better.
When our minds are filled with thoughts and mixed feelings, it is hard to not get stressed and anxious. However, sitting down to write about your feelings will help you have a clear picture of what is bothering you. Therefore, its easier to deal with the problem once you know what it is and its cause.
One way journaling can manage stress is by helping you work through anxious feelings. Anxiety can lead to stress and contemplation if it is not managed. Some of the roots of your anxiety can be minimized through a bit of focused examination through journaling.So anytime you feel overwhelmed, take out your journal and write. Don’t be afraid to put down all those little things you would never tell anyone. You will end up feeling better afterwards.
4. Journaling helps you fall and stay asleep
This has been my biggest benefit of journaling. This is because, I have struggled with insomnia for a few years now. I did not know why until I was diagnosed with major depressive disorder a few months ago. Although my medication helps me sleep, sometimes I am just having a bad day and its hard to sleep with all the emotions running through my mind.
Last week, I was so stressed about something before I slept and was telling my friend how scared I was that I might relapse back to depression. She told me to journal about three things that I liked about my day and sleep. I did not exactly write what she had told me but I ended up writing about what was stressing me. That night was the best night of my life. I slept well and could not tell when morning came.
Although it is advisable to write about positive events that happened during the day before you sleep, it works differently for everyone. Personally,writing about what has stressed me before I sleep helps relieve tension within. Also, writing a specific to do list for the following day lowers your anxiety levels and helps you sleep. If you have been struggling to sleep,try journaling. You willend up sleeping like a baby.
5. Journaling improves your memory
Depression has severely damaged my memory. Although I am on medication now, I still struggle forgetting things like my phone,keys and other things. My psychologist has been encouraging me to write so that I can remember things. Journaling helps in retaining information. Its a way of telling your mind that whatever you are writing is important and it needs your attention and also remembrance.Let’s making journaling part of our habit so that we can improve our memory together.
6. Journaling helps move you towards your goals.
Writing down your goals makes it tangible. Its not enough to just say that you want to do something. You commit your goals to writing.
Journaling also gives you a chance to review past failures and success. You are able to understand what works and what doesn’t. Its also easier to be accountable to your goals when you write them down rather than thinking about it or speaking it to others.
7. Journaling improves your mood
Whenever you are having a bad day then you journal your feelings, you end up feeling better. It lifts your spirits and relieves the burden in your heart. Journaling is like talking to your close friend about what is bothering you without fear of feeling judged. You always end up feeling better.
8. Journaling helps you solve your problems.
The more you complain about something, the more you get tired of it. The same applies to journaling. You will eventually get tired of writing about the same thing every day and finally look for a solution to your problems.
9. Journaling improves mindfulness.
When you journal, you have a better understanding of your thoughts, your state of mind and emotions. This makes you aware and mindful of where you are in your life. Therefore, you are able to respond to things around you proactively rather than re-actively.
10. Journaling boosts creativity
Writing opens your mind to ideas that you never thought you had. Sometimes I sit down to write expecting to write one page and end up writing five.
The best way to go about it is to set a timer and start writing anything that comes to your mind. Then when the timer rings, stop writing and read what you have written. Its a technique known as brain dump. The more you do it. The more creative you become.
11. Journaling reduces symptoms of depression
I was recently diagnosed with major depressive disorder and I can testify that journaling reduces the symptoms. Depression can sometimes cause too much sleep or no sleep at all. For my case, I struggled falling and staying asleep before I began taking my medication. Journaling before bed time would help me fall and stay asleep.
Sometimes I would feel sad or cry for no reason. Journaling during those times would help me understand what has made me sad and help me know what to do about it. I would feel better after writing.My depression also caused memory loss. Journaling would help me remember things therefore improving my memory.If you are going through depression or know someone who is then start or encourage them to journal. The symptoms will reduce with time. Its important to note that its not a one time quick fix. It takes time before the results become noticable.
12. Journaling helps you after a traumatic experience.
Going through a traumatic experience is hard. I know this because I have gone through one. Sometimes you feel sad. Other days you are doing well. Sometimes you can talk about it without crying while others you bowl out your eyes.
And sometimes the stimatization or trigger that comes with it doesn’t spare you. That’s why journaling about your everyday victories and downfalls is so important. When you feel down journal. When you are happy journal. Healing is a process and journaling about it every day makes it easier.
13. Journaling improves sense of gratitude
Have you ever taken time to write three things you are grateful for about your day? If you haven’t, you should start. The more you look for things to be grateful for, the more you will find them.
The truth is, they are so many things to be grateful for. If we change our view from our problems to our blessings , we learn to be more grateful.
Free self love journal
We have dived into some of the benefits of journaling. They are more than I have mentioned here. I love doing things practically. If you want to start experiencing the benefits of journaling, you can start for free by downloading my FREE self love journal with prompts that is available in A5 size. You can download it down below.
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