Do you remember writing your diary during your childhood? Many of us used to do so and many people continue writing the same. This is what journaling is. Journaling is simply penning down your feelings and thoughts to be more aware of them and understand them more clearly. Journaling has been known to be quite effective for mental health and known to reduce stress, anxiety, depression, and even help in improving your mood.
Research has even shown that if you have been struggling with mental issues then daily journaling can improve your condition and get your life back on track.(1) Let us read on to know more about the powerful mental health benefits of journaling.
7 Powerful Mental Health Benefits Of Journaling
Journaling Reduces Anxiety And Stress
Journaling about your feelings is associated with reduced mental distress. A study conducted in 2018 taking 70 adults with elevated anxiety levels has found that online journaling for continuous twelve weeks has reduced their mental distress significantly. Long-term journaling is also linked with greater resilience.(1)
It should be made clear that excessive stress can damage your mental, physical, and emotional health and it has been proven. A study has shown that journaling or expressive writing for 15-20 minutes a day, three to five times for four months could lower blood pressure and improve the function of the liver.(2) Moreover, journaling about stressful experiences or situations helps you manage them in a better manner.
Journaling Helps With Depression
One of the most powerful mental health benefits of journaling is that it helps with depression. A study conducted in 2013 involving forty individuals with major depressive disorder or MDD, who were asked to write about an emotional event or any non-emotional regular events, showed that the participants who repeatedly wrote over several days experienced significantly reduced symptoms of depression.(3)
Keeping a gratitude journal is one more approach to depression. Research during 2021 has suggested that making a strict and consistent effort to practice gratitude can positively affect one’s mental health and also help to counteract negative thoughts that are generated due to depression.(4)
Journaling Helps With PTSD
One more powerful mental health benefit of journaling is that it benefits patients with PTSD or post-traumatic stress disorder or symptoms related to trauma. Journaling might be one of the most essential self-help techniques for some people.
A research paper in 2015 explains that symptoms of PTSD can be reduced by consistent expressive writing. It has also been suggested that writing at length about a stressful or traumatic event might help in managing PTSD symptoms.(5)
NOTE: It is recommended to practice this type of expressive writing under the guidance of an experienced mental health professional or a therapist.
Journaling Helps To Regulate Emotions
Journaling also helps to regulate emotion. Brain scans of individuals who wrote about their feelings or practiced journaling showed that they were able to efficiently control their emotions. It was also found that writing about feelings abstractly could help in controlling emotions in a better way as compared to writing vividly.
It Keeps The Memory Sharp
One of the most powerful mental health benefits of journaling is that it keeps the memory sharp and also increases the capacity of working memory, this in turn might reflect improved cognitive processing.(6)
Journaling Creates Awareness
To be more aware of self and everything else, practice journaling. When you write down your feeling about any tough or stressful situation, it allows you to understand things well and helps you form new perceptions about the events.
Even research has shown that expressive writing can help people develop more structured and integrated schemes about themselves and the world.(6) It can be said that journaling helps in growth.
Journaling Enhances Your Mood and Emotional Healing
Are you feeling low and want something great to happen in life? Start journaling. It would improve your mood and offer you a greater sense of emotional well-being. Journaling truly helps in enhancing emotional healing.
Tips To Help You Get Started With Journaling
Some of the tips that can be followed when you begin with journaling are mentioned below.
- Make sure you write your journal every day without skipping a single day.
- Keep things creative. It is not mandatory to only write about your thoughts and feelings. You can alternatively be creative and express your feelings in various ways like doodling, painting, and writing your thoughts on the art. You can also create a song or compose poetry that talks about your thoughts.
- Start a gratitude journal where you start giving thanks for everything you are grateful for in life.
- Keep things like pen, diary, or sticky notes handy with you, and start writing your feeling whenever you feel low or want to write. You can otherwise use your smartphone for journaling.
Few Journal Prompts That Might Help You
Some prompts can help you stay focused in journaling every day. Below are a few journal prompts that might help you.
- List down certain things you are grateful for in life
- Begin your morning journaling by writing about the goals for the day.
- End your day with an evening or night journal by writing about the day.
- List a few coping mechanisms that work for you.
- Write about a bad day and list it as a “LESSON” in your journal diary.
- Write about any type and number of emotions that you feel daily.
- Write a letter to the “Past-you” or “Future-you”
- Write a letter for yourself, maybe a love letter, or an apology letter.
- Write about at least three wishes that you want to have fulfilled in life
- Mention your biggest challenge.
- Write about motivational quotes and positive affirmations.
- And the list goes on.
Write Down Your Thoughts And Free Your Mind!
Journaling is one of the best means to be aware of self about the universe. It helps in various ways and is especially important for your mental health. It helps you de-stress and cool down making you feel relaxed. So, take a step ahead in improving your mental health journey and write down your thoughts to free your mind.