Writing is something that comes natural to me but not to others. However, I find it exceedingly difficult to write in my journal like I did when I was younger. I noticed that I would mainly write in my journal about all my failed relationships rather than about my feelings about everything in general. This caused me to stop writing in my journal for a long time. It wasn’t until recently that I started keeping a journal again and started writing in it somewhat more consistently.
There are actually a lot of health benefits to writing in a journal, regardless of what you’re actually writing about. Here are some reasons why journaling is actually good for your mental health:
- Reduces stress/manages anxiety/helps cope with depression. One of the most important reasons is that it reduces stress. You can write about your anger, sadness, happiness, and other emotions. Doing this may seem silly, but it actually allows you to be yourself without feeling like someone is judging you. Don’t edit anything, just let the thoughts and feelings pour out of you as if they were automatic.
- Helps prioritize and solve problems. Generally, we solve problems by thinking or by talking; by writing, we are engaging in a different part of our brain that unlocks our creativity, which can actually help us view the problem from a completely different perspective, helping us see the problem from a different angle allows us to find a solution.
- Helps resolve disagreements with others. One of the most frustrating feelings is when you have an argument with someone over something and you don’t know how to resolve it. As I mentioned in #2, by writing you are using a different area of your brain and it’s easier to see the situation from the other person’s perspective.
- Understand yourself better. The biggest challenge for some people is to understand ourselves as a person. What makes us unique from everyone else, how we feel and think about certain things. It’s through consistent journaling that you can look back and reflect on what you are saying about your feelings. Are there certain triggers that cause you to feel a certain way? How do you self-talk to yourself in your journal? Journaling is a great opportunity for us to discover how we are treating ourselves through our own self-talk.
- It helps you switch your brain from passive to active. By writing down your thoughts, you are actively thinking about how you feel. In our busy day-to-day lives, we are so often on “auto-pilot,” which means we aren’t using our brains as often as we should. By sitting down and writing out how we feel we are actively engaging our minds, which can also help our IQ.
- Helps memory. Believe it or not, writing down what you are thinking is actually helpful for your memory! When you think about your feelings, your brain is working through all the memories you’ve had of the day or past week, etc. and those memories are stored somewhere safe in our brains. When we think about those memories again, it’s much easier for our brain to retrieve and recall those memories because we wrote them down. Think of it this way, when we think about something briefly, it makes a little “pathway” in our brain, but if we don’t do something about those memories, they “collect dust” and are harder to retrieve. By writing things down, we’re actually strengthening this little “pathway” so that it’s clear from debris or other things blocking our memories.
- Helps achieve goals. Ever heard of a dream board? There’s a reason why people make them and put them somewhere they can see every day. It’s the same as writing consistently. By writing, you are allowing yourself to express your dreams and desires for the future freely. By writing them down, it’s like you are “officially” making a statement to yourself and the world that you want to do those things.
Remember, your journal is your own private sanctuary. If you are worried about other people finding your journal around in the house, you can also keep a word document that is password protected.