Journals and diaries have been written and kept for centuries, with early diaries kept as public records of community events, decisions, and issues. However, over time the diary or journal gradually shifted focus from recording public life to reflecting our personal and private worlds.
These days dairies are used to track our personal calendar events, with journals becoming a private tool that help us to externalise our internal world in a way that feels private and safe. Journaling has many benefits for health and well being and is a tool to express emotion, detox the mind, verbalise the unsayable and to record that which is worthy of holding in memory.
Some of the many benefits of journaling are:
To Gain Clarity
Just as a mirror reflects back to us our physical body, journaling provides a glimpse into the workings of both our conscious and subconscious mind and heart. Journaling provides a record of what makes us happy or sad, what we like or dislike, what we fear and where we find peace. It provides a heightened self-awareness of everything about ourself.
The Building of Empathy
Journaling can help us to start to look at things more objectively, help us to better understand other peoples points of view. For example; an imagined dialogue with another person can help us see how another person might respond to a question about having hurt us. When we are open to other perspectives, we blame others less for our problems which help make us a happier person.
Strengthens Emotional Functions
Journaling can help in the management of personal adversity and change, and emphasize important patterns and growth in life. Research shows that expressive writing can help individuals develop more structured, adaptive, and integrated stories about themselves, others, and the world. What’s more, journaling unlocks and engages right-brained creativity, which gives us access to our full brainpower.
In our journal we never have to hold back, as it is only for your eyes to see. Letting go of intense feelings through writing helps prevent us from getting stuck in a mental loop and causing unnecessary suffering. Expressing our emotions in writing helps to release them, allowing us to feel lighter, calmer and less stressed.
Want more sunshine in your life? Try journaling. A unique social and behaviour outcome of journaling is that it can improve our mood and give a greater sense of overall emotional well-being and happiness.
Sometimes the only way we can arrive at the answer to a problem is by tapping into our creative, intuitive and emotional right-brain which is precisely what journaling accomplishes. Having a different perspective can unlock creative solutions we might never have thought of before!
The creative component in journaling can also spill into other areas of your life like music, painting and sculpting. Once we get rolling, our muse takes over ans we can try out new ideas without fear of judgment.
Boost Memory and Cognition
Journaling helps keep our brain in shape. Not only does it boost memory and comprehension, it also increases working memory capacity, which may reflect improved cognitive processing. Journaling does this by helping us to organize our thoughts and memory through presenting them clearly on paper.
When we start to journal, we may find ourself covering the same territory over and over again, which we only realize once we look back on earlier entries. These may be negative thoughts and behaviours we've identified or certain people/events that trigger us. By zeroing in on the problem, we have an opportunity to make positive changes.