Scientists and researchers have discovered what many diarists have known all along – keeping a journal is good for you!
Last month, we looked at ten famous journal keepers to discover what made journaling so important to them.
This month, we explore more deeply explore the benefits of keeping a journal.
Susan Sontag famously said, “In the journal, I do not just express myself more openly than I could to any person; I create myself. The journal is a vehicle for my
sense of selfhood.”
Journaling is good for your health
She is not alone. Researchers have found that writing a journal can help people to make sense of important life events and move forward lower depression and anxiety, and deliver important health benefits – such as a lower heart rate, higher heart rate variability, and strengthening of T-lymphocytes immune cells.
Psychologist Dr. Jane McCarthy argues that writing in a journal helps to bring a sense of perspective to our life experiences. “Writing something down stops things from going around and around in our heads… it stops you from obsessing and can help make sense of our jumble of thoughts and feelings. It’s particularly useful for people who have problems sleeping. If you wake worrying at 3 am about problems, just get them on the page.”
In this way, journaling can be a form of mindfulness and reflection.
Journaling to success
In “Sure Ways for Success in Life and God Realization”, Hindu spiritual teacher Sivananda Saraswati argues “Blessed is he who keeps a daily diary and compares
this week with that of the last, for he will realize God quickly!”
The simple act of writing down our experiences and feelings helps us to learn from them.
Similarly, US author Sandra Marinella, whose work promotes the value of writing for healing from illness, trauma or loss, makes the point, “Journal writing gives us insights into who we are, who we were, and who we can become.”
On the page, we are free to sketch out ideas about what we would like our life to be like – the first step to realizing the life we want for ourselves.
A positive approach to productivity and success
What’s more, writing helps us to develop a more positive approach to achieving our dreams.
Studies have shown that using the page to express one’s feelings helps to increase self-awareness and bridge the gap between inner thoughts with external events – releasing pent-up emotions. Making it possible to let go of the past, and creating a path forward characterized by greater objectivity and positivity.
To boost the positive effects of journaling, UK psychotherapist Dr. Lucy Beresford recommends using your journal to practice gratitude.
Practicing gratitude has been shown to make people happier and more optimistic, as well as boosting self-esteem and reducing materialism and self-centeredness.
Beresford says simply writing a list of things for which you are grateful can help to offer a different perspective and reveals to you the many good things in your life.