When you hear the word “journal”, what do you think?
For some people, it sounds like an enormous waste of time. For others, journals are just an adult friendly term for “Dear Diary”, and why the heck should you do something that a 13-year-old girl is probably doing? Maybe journaling just doesn’t feel like something that an adult should do.
I recently wrote a guest post on the blog Michele’s Finding Happiness about how journaling has positively affected my life. After I finished, I couldn’t stop thinking about how such a simple activity has really been a source of positive growth throughout my life. But why aren’t more people journaling, too?
RELATED: Check out my guest post on Michele’s Finding Happiness: Journaling – The Free Therapist You Need
Personally, I think has a lot to do with the stigma that such an activity is childlike.
But let me tell you, if you’re not keeping a journal you are missing out on some deep soul reflection!
There are literally hundreds of reasons as to why you should start journaling, but I’m going to highlight the top 7 benefits that I’ve personally experienced, and why you need to start journaling too.
Ready? Let’s go.
1. Improved Mental and Physical Health
You know that borderline euphoric feeling that happens once you’ve gotten something off your chest?
With a journal, this feeling doesn’t have to occur only once in a blue moon. With consistent journaling, you get to a point where that rush of relief becomes common. Eventually, you get to a point where writing down your feelings becomes so natural that if you stop, you’ll become emotionally constipated. And no one likes to be constipated.
After I write in my journal, I walk away with a sense of understanding of my emotions and the underlying reasons why I feel a certain way. It’s a way of keeping pulse on my overall mental state.
But it doesn’t just end there. Aside from the mental health benefits, journaling has also proven to have a positive effect on physical health as well.
In the June 2002 issue of Monitor on Psychology, the American Psychological Association highlights a health study where asthma and rheumatoid arthritis patients were asked to write in their journals about a negative life experience for 20-minute intervals over a 3 day period. The patients who wrote in their journals improved physically and deteriorated less than the control patients who didn’t have a journal.
2. Dependable, judge-free zone
Imagine a place where you can share your candid thoughts without the possibility of judgment. (Good luck!)
That place you’re looking for is a journal. When you become your own audience, it gives you the freedom to be completely uninhibited with your thoughts. You are allowed to be your authentic self with pressure to sugar
When you become your own audience, it gives you the freedom to be completely uninhibited with your thoughts. You are allowed to be your authentic self with pressure to sugar coat or filter yourself. No more worrying about if you’re a bad person. There are no attachment, no judgments, just your raw thoughts, and emotions.
Even our best friends don’t get our complete unfiltered thoughts. The truth is, everyone places judgment…Heck, we even judge ourselves. And when you get to a point where you can reread past entries, there will be A LOT of judgment going on. (When I read my old entries, I often find myself saying “OH NO YOU DIDN’T!” It’s okay, totally normal.)
A journal is a safe place that’s available 24/7. It’s there if you need it.
3. Capture day to day occurrences that you would normally forget
Journaling is something you do whenever you feel moved to write. Some people only journal when the shit hits the fan. Other people journal religiously every single day, even if nothing significant has happened. Me? I journal when life is going
Me? I journal when life is smooth sailing, when life gets hectic, or just because I’m bored. Once you get in the habit of journaling, you may start writing every day because it’s become a part of your routine. Wen I get nostalgic and reread some of my past entries, the entries I enjoy the most are those which document an average day.
It’s the day-to-day musings of my past that I’ve come to enjoy the most. They bring back memories that weren’t significant enough to remember long term, but still make me smile when I’m reminded of their occurrence.
While flipping through your journal, you may recall a conversation you had with a good friend, or drum up the excitement of going on a first date. You might also be reminded of a day you spend with a family member who is no longer living. There are so many insignificant daily events, but it’s those insignificant events that make up the majority of our lives. It’s fun to go back and relive a few memories that you’ve forgotten.
4. Measure Your Growth
There is no way more effective to track your emotional maturity than a journal. Without journals, we are unable to venture back in time and observe how we handled various situation our lives. Journals grant us that time travel ability.
When you’ve built up enough entries that span over several weeks/months/years, you are able to see how your reactions to issues have evolved over time. You’re also able to pinpoint what your triggers, and how you solve problems. Our memories don’t show us this, but our journal entries step up to the plate.
Your own words and raw feelings revealed on paper becomes a palpable measuring stick of your emotional progress.
5. Easy to spot trends in your life
When you begin keeping a journal over any extended period of time, you’ll start to notice trends in your behavior.
You may start to notice your vices, justifications, the types of people you are drawn to, recurring themes, etc. You can use these observations to evaluate what trends are helpful to your self-development, and which trends need to be corrected/eliminated.
Having this simple information is invaluable to making positive changes in your life.
6. Keeps you honest about the past
One of our greatest downfalls is our ability to romanticize the past. Everyone does it, no one is immune. We especially tend to romanticize the past when it comes to previous relationships. Even if the good times were few and far between, those are the memories that we tend to remember most often.
But hold up… A journal will be right there, knocking off those rose colored glasses. Journals allow you to go back and see how life really was, not just how you’d like to remember it.
I remember a time when I once considered going back to an ex-boyfriend… THEN I re-read some of my journal entries. On those pages, I was reminded (in exact quotes) certain statements he’d said to me in the past, and how it made me feel. Any feelings of reconciliation went flying out the window. And that’s what I love about journals… You can try to lie to yourself, but your journal is not havin’ it.
7. Builds self-confidence
Self-confidence is a cumulative result of all the previously mentioned benefits.
Having improved mental (and physical) health means that you no longer feel as though you don’t have control over your emotions. Your journal then becomes your safe outlet to express yourself. When you’re able to express yourself, you also feel more confident in yourself.
Being able to see the progress you’ve made by reading older journal entries as gives you reassurance that you’re heading in the right direction.
More than anything, journals show you that you’ve survived tough shit in your life. You’ve faced difficulty in the past, and you’ve conquered it. You can do it again.
Ready to start journaling?
If you’ve ever been apprehensive about journaling in the past, I hope this post will inspire you to give it a shot.
You don’t need anything fancy, your journal could be a simple college ruled notebook or a composition book. TJ Maxx and Marshalls has a great selection of journals that you can choose from – most are around $5.
Just pick it up, start writing, and see what bubbles to the surface.
This post was proofread by Grammarly