In a long list of things to do to stay healthy–exercise, maintain a good diet, get enough sleep–adding something else to the list might seem a bit daunting. But an ancient tradition that dates back to early Japan, favoured by many intellectuals, writers, thinkers and philosophers plays a significant role in maintaining your mental and physical wellbeing: journaling.
The practice of writing down your thoughts is as old as language itself; it may be considered old fashioned by many but its benefits are undeniable.
Health Benefits of Journaling
Contrary to popular belief, keeping a journal or a diary isn’t just for teenagers or old people. There is increasing evidence to support the fact that journaling has a positive impact on one’s well being.
Unlike the traditional diary writing or note taking, therapeutic journaling involves writing down your thoughts and feelings about experiences. The kind of private reflection and introspection that takes place while writing can help with processing trauma and allow for a deeper understanding of self. There are spiritual benefits to be gained from journaling as well – it can evoke mindfulness. Journaling sharpens the mind’s way of processing events and forces us to actively engage with our feelings. This helps remove the mental blocks and allows you to use all your brainpower to better understand yourself and the world around you.
All these benefits may seem intangible and abstract; however, there are results that can be physically measured to journaling, as well. If you’re still not convinced, TABIIB has compiled the best, scientific evidence to remove all doubts:
1) Manages And Relieves Stress
Stress can be damaging for your physical and mental health. Keeping a journal can work as an amazing stress management tool and as a daily habit can reduce the impact that stress can have on your mental health. In fact, an article stated that people who keep a journal and write in it consistently have a better liver function and blood pressure.
2) Improves Memory
The act of writing something down allows for greater cognitive recall. It can enhance your brain’s intake and retaining capacity for information. When you write in a journal, you’re recording and processing the day’s events, which then helps you to retain those memories for a longer period of time.
3) Strengthens Emotional Intelligence
As writing habits are developed, the end result may also be for the long-term. Keeping a journal provides an outlet for emotional catharsis while developing perspective. It can help the brain regulate emotions and foster better mental health. Journaling engages right-brain creativity helping you become more in tune with your mental health.
4) Improves Immune Function
This may come as a surprise but journaling has also been known to reduce your risk of illness. In a study conducted, researchers observed that the participants who were consistent with writing in their journals showed the benefits:
-Reduced stress visits to the doctor
-Improved lung function
-Improved liver metabolism
-Reduced blood pressure
It has even been reported to help wounds heal faster.
5) Boosts Mood
Journaling about a positive experience helps you relive it and reaffirms your belief in your abilities. These reflections can become a guidebook of all your personal achievements and successes that you can look back on.
How To Start Journaling
There’s no set rule for how a journal should be; it’s your choice how you want it to look. So it doesn’t matter if it’s a notebook or even pieces of paper. Since it’s a reflection of your own self, it doesn’t have to abide by any rules or conventions.
However, one of the easiest ways is to start small. Keep aside 5-10 minutes everyday to reflect and jot down everything that stood out to you during the day. Write often, and write in your own style. It might be tough to stick with initially but it becomes a habit when you’re consistent with it.
While journaling no doubt will benefit your mental, and physical health, it’s usually best to combine it with other aspects of a healthy lifestyle. To reduce anxiety or stress, take time to meditate for a few minutes everyday.
If you’re struggling with mental health and anxiety, reach out to a psychologist who can help. Book an appointment on TABIIB.