What's all this hype about journaling?
It seems that this has been one of the most well-kept secrets of history makers, (say, Maya Angelou, Charles Darwin, and Frida Kahlo), and also of today's celebrities and great minds like Lady Gaga, Emma Watson, and Sara Blakely — just to name a few.
But you don't have to be a famous creative, scientist or innovator for this practice to be worthwhile. Journaling is for everyone.
Because the benefits of journaling are too good to be kept to just a few, we collected seven science-based reasons why you should start journaling today.
The benefits of Journaling
If you’re serious about becoming a wealthy, powerful, sophisticated, healthy, influential, cultured, and unique individual, keep a journal.
- Jim Rohn
1. Journaling Helps You Achieve Your Goals
Journals can work as your accountability buddy. Keeping one helps you to develop goals and simultaneously provide a framework for accomplishing them. If you've been looking for ways to boost your productivity, writing in a journal may be the answer.
But how come journaling can help you achieve your goals?
A study by psychology professor Dr. Gail Matthews discovered that those who write down their goals and dreams on a regular basis are 42% more likely to achieve them than those who do not.
When you write down your goals, you essentially tell your brain what you want, which activates your subconscious mind to flag relevant opportunities and tools to achieve that goal.
Plus, journaling can help you organizing information, tracking your progress, and remind you of what you're aiming to achieve.
2. Journaling Sharpens Your Memory
We all know that, more than ever, we're constantly being bombarded by more information than we can process.
According to a study by Microsoft, our attention span has evolved from 12 seconds (2000) to 8 seconds (2015), which means that we're becoming even more selective about what we choose to devote our attention to.
One of the most effective ways to concentrate, remember, and make sense of what happens is by keeping a journal.
When you write down you activate your reticular activating system (RAS) of the brain, which is responsible for filtering information. Since our memory is selective, you're more likely to remember the information you focus on.
Also, because of its slow nature, it has been proven that writing by hand helps to retain and comprehend information more effectively versus typing.
3. Journaling Sparks Your Creativity
Writing in your journal is a great way to let your creativity flow freely.
The trick is this — the more you practice, the more you're detached from the perfection of the outcome, which will give you the freedom to think openly without the fear of self-judgment.
As a consequence, you're simultaneously improving your ability to generate ideas both in quantity and in quality on a regular basis.
4. Journaling Can Heal a Broken Heart
Were you the kind of teenager who kept a diary to write down about your crushes and your broken heart? Me too. And guess what, there's a reason for that!
Post-breakup emotions can be super overwhelming. It can get hard to focus and think clearly as so many emotions are happening at once.
Research shows that regularly journaling about how you're coping with your breakup helps you redefine your sense of self and make the experience more comprehensible.
Moreover, journaling can also be a great way of letting go by releasing the thoughts and emotions that have built up during the breakup.
5. Journaling Reduces Anxiety and Depression
Approximately 1 in 5 adults in the U.S. (46.6 million) experiences mental illness in a given year (source: nami). On a global scale, the numbers are alarming and exponentially increasing.
You may be now wondering how can the simple act of writing down can have a significant impact on your mental health. Allow me to explain.
First, journaling reduces the symptoms of depression and anxiety by reducing the frequency of intrusive thoughts and by calming your mind.
Then, if you're struggling to overcome past trauma and self-destruction emotions, journaling can help you find healing.
As you kindly put pen to paper, you'll be confronted by inhibited emotions (reducing the stress from inhibition), and even be able to see the positive learning and growth from that experience.
On top of that, journaling makes you more aware and therefore it helps you to detect unhealthy patterns in our thoughts and behaviors, leaving clues to the root cause of the issue.
6. Journaling Boosts Your Physical Health
Aside from drastic improvements to your mood and emotional well-being, journaling can actually benefit your physical health as well.
Research shows that writing down your emotions and thoughts can increase the chance of fighting specific diseases such as asthma, rheumatoid arthritis, sleep disorders, and cancer. But there's more: it can even help physical wounds heal faster.
A study conducted in New Zealand found that 76% of adults who spent 20 minutes a day journaling about their daily activities and life events for three days in a row before a medical biopsy fully healed on the 11th day, as compared with 42% of the control group.
The study concluded that expressive writing is key in reducing stress, and therefore strengthens the immune system.
7. Journaling Declutters Your Mind
Vague thinking leads to vague results. Creating a life on your own terms requires clarity of mind and self-awareness.
Journaling is a liberating process in which you transfer thoughts onto paper, allowing you to creative distance from the ego and analyze them from a third perspective.
When you write down your thoughts and emotions, you free up mental space and therefore create new room in your mind for fresh thoughts to arise.
I sincerely hope that this article has left you with a better understanding of the so many positive outcomes that keeping a journal can have for you and your loved ones.
Remember, you don't have to be an accomplished writer to start journaling today. If you're just beginning your practice, I'd recommend you to start by understanding what journaling type is right for you.
What benefits have you experienced with your journaling practice so far? Share with us by commenting below!