There is one technique therapists have been using for decades. Successful CEO’s, inventors, and entrepreneurs also do this at the beginning or end of each day – Journaling.
Journaling is a great way to improve your mental health and set yourself on a path towards a positive mindset.
Although writing down your thoughts on paper has decreased in popularity as technology has become more available.
But whether you type out your thoughts or write them by hand, the practice has countless benefits.
Benefits of journaling
Improves your mental and physical health
Research has found time and time again that journaling is good for our health. It’s particularly effective if you’re struggling with mental health.
According to Dr. James Pennebaker, a psychologist and leading expert in the field of Expressive Writing—journaling strengthens immune cells and has been associated with drops in depression and anxiety.
It also has been shown to increase positive moods, social engagement, and quality of close relationships. Other studies find faster wound healing, greater mobility among people with arthritis, and the list goes on.
Helps you process difficult experiences
One of the likely reasons journaling is so helpful is that writing out your feelings about difficult experiences helps you to process them—and that helps you to feel a bit better about what you’ve gone through. A 2005 study even noted that people who journaled about traumatic or difficult events in their lives were less likely to get sick and were less adversely impacted by their traumas.
The act of writing expressively about your stresses allows you to lay them out in front of you. This leads you to view them objectively instead of a series of nebulous and distressing thoughts. It’s human nature to want to find meaning in our experiences, and to lay them out in our minds as narratives—with a beginning, middle, end, and a takeaway. Putting our experiences into words is a great way to do just that.
It opens up your creativity
“Writing accesses the left hemisphere of the brain, which is analytical and rational,” says Maud Purcell, a psychotherapist and journaling expert. This frees up your right brain—the side that’s more focused on expressing emotions and creative thoughts—to get all of your feelings out. Many of us have a tendency to want to analyze our pain, and journaling removes those inhibitions so we can just let out our emotions and ultimately process them.
How to keep a journal
You may be thinking how you’re not too good at writing and therefore journaling would be a bad idea. But writing down your thoughts is very easy and incredibly freeing. Here are a few tips to get you started.
Use a pen
This is entirely up to you, but using a pen and paper for journaling has been shown to allow creativity and words to flow much easier. When words are on a screen, they tempt you to go back and edit them. Editing deletes your raw thoughts and emotions in an attempt to make your writing sound “better”. You don’t want tidy sentences here. You want to see the truth.
Choose a time and place
Sometimes our environment can make it hard to relax and get into the writing mood. Try to allocate a time of day or a specific place to write. It could be a café, a park, or just the coziest corner of your home. If it’s comfortable and allows you to be inspired, then it’s a good place to journal in.
Keep it private
A journal is a written record of your personal day-to-day activities with an exploration of your thoughts and feelings. But a journal is for you. No one will be judging and no critics will be grading your writing skills. So let your words flow and be as candid as possible. Keeping your journal hidden and away from prying eyes will help you relax and write things you wouldn’t tell anyone else. These are usually the things that are key points in evaluating our mental well-being.
While journaling can often be more helpful than simply talking about your experiences to friends, a great approach is to pair journaling with the help of a mental health professional. Precipeace can help to connect you with online, confidential therapists whom you can access from the comfort of your own home. It’s a great way to process whatever emotions are coming up as you journal and creating a path to feeling better.