The Benefits of Journaling

Why is journaling important?

Journaling is a simple activity that most people overlook. Journaling has been shown to have significant mental and physical health benefits and to improve a person’s overall quality of life.

Here are five (5) evidence-based benefits to journaling.

(1) Journaling Can Reduce Depression and Anxiety Symptoms

A 2006 study showed that writing in a journal can be as effective as cognitive-behavioral therapy in reducing depression risk in young adults. Other studies have shown that journaling can reduce the frequency of intrusive and depressive thoughts in those diagnosed with depression. 

But how does journaling help with depression and anxiety?

Both depression and anxiety are often accompanied by negative thoughts. Journaling allows you to get these thoughts down on paper and process them in a more analytical, non-emotional way, which allows you to respond appropriately.

Emotional crises affect every part of our lives. You don’t just lose a job. You don’t just get divorced. These emotionally charged events affect all aspects of who we are — our relationships with others, our views of ourselves, our beliefs about the future… Writing helps us focus and organize those experiences.

Instead of simply letting negative thoughts run rampant in your mind, journaling for anxiety allows you to engage with your thoughts and determine whether they are true or false. Instead of reacting reflexively, journaling allows you to engage your reasoning mind. 

(2) Journaling Can Help Boost Immune Function

Surprisingly, journaling has been proven to improve overall immune function and decrease your risk of illness. Karen A. Baikie and Kay Wilhelm found that those who journaled regularly had fewer stress-related visits to the doctor, had improved immune system functioning, reductions in blood pressure, and improved lung and liver function.

Journaling allows a person to develop a “coherent narrative” of their life. It enables a person to take the events they experience and integrate them into their overall perspective on life. This, in turn, enables a person to think more positively about their life and create a holistic picture of themselves in relation to the rest of the world. It follows that a person with a positive, holistic view of themselves is less prone to things like depression and anxiety, both of which can cause a variety of physical health problems.

(3) Journaling Helps Cultivate Gratitude

It is well known that practicing gratitude has health benefits. Gratitude is directly tied to things like increased exercise and improved quality of sleep, both of which promote long-term well-being. It has been shown to significantly increase optimism, which indirectly affects both your happiness and your health.

Gratitude is tied to reduced levels of depression, making progress toward goals, and making a person more sociable and friendly. Journaling allows you to reflect on all the good things in your life, which, in turn, enables you to be grateful. When you don’t journal, it’s easy to forget about all the good things happening in your life…

(4) Journaling Can Help With Recovery From Traumatic Events

It has also been shown that journaling can help a person recover more quickly from traumatic events. Writing things down allows you to process what has occurred and see the good side of life, even when things are difficult. Journaling also allows you to directly confront the things you’ve experienced instead of avoiding them and not taking the time to process them.

If you’ve experienced the death of a loved one, journaling can enable you to effectively grieve in a manner that’s both healthy and healing. As you journal, you can take the necessary time to remember your loved one, process the loss, and begin to move forward.

A 2002 study by researchers Provencher, Gregg, Mead, & Mueser also found that journaling can speed the recovery of those who are struggling with various psychiatric conditions. Psychiatric conditions are often accompanied by repetitive, intrusive thoughts that can be difficult to process. Journaling allows you to get those thoughts down on paper, process them effectively, and finally let them pass through.

(5) Journaling can Improve Memory Function

It shouldn’t come as any surprise that journaling can also improve overall memory function.

Neurologist Judy Willis says, “The practice of writing can enhance the brain’s intake, processing, retaining, and retrieving of information… it promotes the brain’s attentive focus … boosts long-term memory, illuminates patterns, gives the brain time for reflection, and when well-guided, is a source of conceptual development and stimulus of the brain’s highest cognition.”

When you journal, you are both recording and processing the events of a particular time period. As you do this, you are remembering and reflecting upon the details of the events, which then helps you retain those memories for a significantly longer amount of time.

Additionally, journaling allows you to analyze past events for patterns. As you look at your journal over time, you may begin to see particular patterns emerge, whether in your own behavior or in the behavior of others. Once you spot these patterns, you can respond appropriately.

If you aren’t journaling yet, I hope these five reasons encourage you to start. Journaling is beneficial, both mentally and physically. It enables you to process the events you experience, which leads to a healthy and holistic view of yourself.

It empowers you to work through trauma, bringing healing to past wounds and insight into the way forward. It also improves your memory of events and enhances your ability to see patterns in life.

So, take the first step and start journaling with us!

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