Why Journaling is Important for Your Mental Health
Written by Sotonye Alamina
You may have heard about how people journal their thoughts down as a way to pass time or to write about their day. Although it isn’t as known, journaling can influence your health in many positive ways.
Things Journaling can Help You With:
Stress. When writing down your thoughts you can pinpoint the exact things that are stressing you out and you can work towards finding solutions for those things. According to a study, journaling for 15-20 minutes 3-5 times a day was enough to lower blood pressure in four months. Reduced stress lowers your blood pressure and gives you more of a chance to relax.
Expressing gratitude and mindfulness. According to Ali Abdaal, when he looks back at his previous journal entries, he is filled with gratitude and is amazed at how much his life has progressed. He was able to look back at what his life was like 2 years ago because he was journaling. If you were to write everyday or frequently, you will be able to look back and see how far you’ve grown and how your thinking process has evolved. Recognizing how far you’ve changed is crucial to your personal/self growth because you are able to track your progress. You can become more grateful and mindful of the things that are happening around you and that will allow you to understand yourself better.
Speed up physical healing. Surprisingly, the benefits of journaling doesn’t stop at just your mental health. According to a study in New Zealand, they found that people who wrote about their feelings about upsetting things healed faster after a biopsy as opposed to those who wrote about their daily activities. According to another study, women with breast cancer who wrote about their experiences while having the disease had less symptoms as well as less cancer-related appointments.
There are many ways to journal and none is better than the other. You should choose the method that makes it easy and convenient for you.
Pen and paper. You can find any pen and any paper lying around and just start to write about anything. You can write about how you are feeling, what you did today, and anything that comes to your mind.
Journaling prompts. Writing based on journaling prompts is a good way to get yourself started. You can also make your own journaling prompts and write about those. Some simple prompts you can start with are:
What is something that makes me happy today?
What is one thing I am grateful for?
What happened today that negatively impacted my mood?
Although there are many good things that involve journaling, sometimes writing about unsettling moments can increase feelings of discomfort and bring up unwanted feelings. It’s always good to journal and write down your emotions but it should be done at your own pace and what you feel you should write. You don’t have to write down anything you aren’t comfortable with.
Journaling also doesn’t replace professional therapy. If you have genuine concerns for your mental health, it’s best to seek a professional who is specialized in taking care of people with mental health concerns.
In short, you can use your journal in any way you see fit. Your journal should be a safe space for you to put down anything on your mind. Journaling not only has mental benefits, but physical benefits as well. You will see a great improvement in your life when you start to implement journaling in your everyday routine.