Journaling is expressive writing, and it’s a wonderful, creative and stress-free way to help boost your health as well as your mood. Keeping a daily journal has many benefits, both professionally and personally, but it also helps you step back, gain perspective and write your thoughts down. Journal writing just involves pen and paper, and quiet time to gather your thoughts, and gain a better view on your life. You can write down your fears, accomplishments and thoughts.
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This relaxing activity in fact can improve your mood and boost your mental health, as well as overall health. Here are 6 ways that journaling can positively boost your health:
1. Helps Relieve Anxiety
Journaling reduces our worries, relieves anxiety and stress, and helps us to stop overthinking. Journaling allows us to express in writing what our mind is thinking and takes the edge off stressful tasks that we have to do. Instead of our minds working hard on worried thoughts and getting burned out over upcoming to-do lists, it’s better to write it down so you can perform the task with less stress.
2. Decreases Depression Symptoms
People who have been diagnosed with major depressive disorders can use expressive writing in their journals to decrease symptoms of depression. A study was published in the Journal of Affective Disorders in 2013 by a research team that showed a big decline in depression scores, following individuals who wrote down their feelings and fears in a journal.
3. Improves Your Memory
Studies reported in Journal of Experimental Psychology: General as well as research out of Lancaster University have concluded that writing in a journal can improve your memory. It helps your brain de-stress. When a person writes about a negative situation or a stressful event, it diminishes intrusive thoughts and improved the memories of people participating in a study. The research found that the more energy your brain spends on stress, the less energy it has to shape memories.
4. Helps You Sleep Better
A 2013 study published in Time magazine showed a mind-body connection where expressing emotions about a traumatic experience helps mental health and physical health. Writing has a calming effect. Research participants who wrote down their traumatic experiences in a journal improved their sleep. A control group that was told not to write about their emotions did not show better improvement in their sleep patterns. Interestingly, physical wounds healed better for people who journaled.
5. Helps You Achieve Your Goals
People who wrote down their goals achieved more of them than those who did not. A study from the Dominican University of California showed writing down goals makes a greater difference in achieving what they set forth, over people who just listed their goals off the top of their head. Another interesting by-product of the study was whether participants shared their goals with friends. People who wrote down their goals and shared them with friends were more successful in achieving their goals than those participants who wrote down their goals in their journal but did not share them with anyone else.
6. Makes You Kinder
For people who keep a “gratitude” journal in which their expressive writing solely speaks of gratitude, there are many benefits to your mental health. A study reported in the University of California Berkeley’s Greater Good Magazine found that college students who kept a journal focusing on expressive gratitude boosted their mood and improved their mental health. This was true also for those students who reported a diagnosed mental health disorder with issues related to anxiety and depression.
Gratitude changes you and your brain. People who count their blessings tend to be happier and less depressed. Journaling is beneficial for healthy, well-adjusted individuals as well as those struggling with mental health concerns. Journaling stops you from ruminating on toxic emotions like jealousy or anxiety, and be present and grateful for what you have.