The Health Benefits of Journaling
If you’re considering picking up a journal, you’re not alone. From improved mental wellness to faster personal growth to advanced career development, there are countless benefits to making journaling a part of your everyday routine. At the same time, keeping a journal has been associated with both mental and physical positive health outcomes — making it an essential habit for a healthy lifestyle.
What kinds of positive health outcomes might you experience when you start journaling? Keep reading for a list of benefits — and journaling strategies — that can turn your journaling practice into a part of a healthy, well-rounded lifestyle.
1. Reduced stress
Stress is the mind-killer. In addition to headaches, increased depression and anxiety, heartburn, insomnia, a weakened immune system and even a greater risk of experiencing a heart attack, chronic stress can tank your enjoyment and appreciation for life. Fortunately, journaling can help!
By making journaling a part of your everyday routine, you can effectively manage stress and reduce the symptoms that come with it. In fact, studies show that writing everyday can significantly improve your ability to fend off and fight diseases such as asthma, cancer and AIDS.
The best part? Respondents in this survey didn’t need to journal for hours on end each day — a simple 15–20-minute journaling session before bed was enough to improve their bodily functions and lead to greater positive health outcomes.
2. Improved sense of self worth
It’s easy to get down on yourself. If you’re someone who chronically hyper-assesses their day-to-day behaviors and replays everything they’ve ever done and said in their mind, you should definitely take up journaling. Why?
Journaling is historically known for helping people improve their own self-worth. In addition to providing a space to vent about issues with your self-esteem, there are a host of journaling prompts you can try to help boost your mood and opinion of yourself.
Need some self-worth journaling strategies? Try opening up your journal and answering any of the following prompts the next time you need a self-esteem boost:
- What special aspects about you make you unique and different?
- What would you do if you knew you couldn’t fail?
- Who are some of your favorite role models? How are you working toward becoming more like them?
- What would you do with your day if money wasn’t a concern?
- What are you good at?
- What’s the nicest compliment someone’s ever given you?
- What can you contribute to your community that’s unique to you?
- What are three things you can remember doing that you’re proud of?
These are just starter journaling strategies — there’s countless questions you can ask yourself to improve your self-esteem. Try answering a few of these questions before coming up with some of your own.
3. Boost mood
It sounds simple, but journaling makes you happier. It really does! Diarists have been proven to quickly overcome emotionally upsetting events and move toward happier, healthier thoughts faster than those who don’t journal. Studies show that journaling about taxing memories actually dampens parts of the brain that elicit strong negative emotional responses, leading to improved overall mental wellness.
4. Strengthen relationships
Looking to improve your relationships with those around you? Journaling can help you with that, too. There are loads of ways journaling can boost your relationships with others — namely, by writing about the important people in your life, journaling can help you reflect, process and understand your interactions with those around you.
Additionally, journaling can be used as a way to form new connections with other likeminded individuals. One such way is through online journaling platforms, which connect diarists with coaching professionals who go back and forth with one another to develop important life skills. Coaching through journaling can help you develop strategies to be a great friend, coworker, workplace leader, family member, parent, sibling and more.
The best part? Your coaching professional will become just another strong relationship you’ll have formed as a result of online journaling.
5. Reduced anxiety
Anxiety: everyone suffers from it from time to time. It’s a chronic day-ruiner that can hit at random and wreck all of your plans. Fortunately, journaling is one of the best ways to keep anxiety under control for greater mental wellness.
One way journaling can improve your anxiety is by helping you plan and organize your life. If you’re constantly feeling stressed and overwhelmed by your daily responsibilities, taking 15-20 minutes to plot out your day when you wake up can help you feel more in control about your to-do list. Conversely, journaling before bed and cataloguing everything you accomplished that day can help you feel less stressed before turning out the lights at night.
If that still sounds stressful, you can use your journal as a meditation tool instead. Try letting your mind run free and journaling about nothing at all. You can write about what you had for breakfast, your favorite colors, something you saw on your drive to work, or why you love your pets… the list goes on. Eventually, you’ll find your mind carrying you away, and your anxiety will be washed out by the gentle ebb and flow of passing thoughts.
Journaling: the best tool for positive health outcomes
Alright, by now you’ve got the picture — journaling’s a wonderful tool that can improve your mental wellness and lead to a host of positive health outcomes. Now that you’ve got that information, don’t just let it sit in your mind! Pick up a journal or log onto your preferred online journaling platform and start writing. With the right journaling strategies, you’ll quickly be on your way to a healthier, more rewarding lifestyle.
Want to drill down on sleep? Click here to read our take on improving your sleep through journaling.