I can remember being 13 years old and owning my very first diary. I would write in it daily, sometimes up to 3 times a day, sitting quietly and pouring out my heart and soul. Even as a young girl, I understood the benefits of journaling.
It was good for my soul.
I wrote about how much I hated my parents, how I hated that girl, Jennifer, how I wished Jamie would want to be my boyfriend, etc. I wrote and wrote and wrote. Almost 50 years later, I’m still writing, except they don’t call them diaries anymore; they call them mental health journals, and I don’t hate Jennifer or want to marry Jamie either.
Journaling has saved me.
I now write and talk an awful lot about how you should try journaling and how good it is for your mental health. I’m not so convinced yet that everyone believes me. I think after you see all the benefits of journaling for yourself, maybe then you’ll believe me.
How to Journal
Before we get into the benefits of journaling daily, and yes, I said daily, let’s talk a bit about how to journal. Now, I can only share my ritual, but you’ll soon find a practice that works best for you.
It’s best that you find a nice quiet spot in your place where you won’t be disturbed. You can turn on some soft music or just sit quietly. You can light candles, burn essential oils or incense, or not. You set the mood however you want; just make sure it’s peaceful and pleasing to you.
Many people aren’t quite sure what to write about in their journals.
In the morning, I write about all the things I’m grateful for, and it sets the tone for the day. Sometimes, in the late afternoon or early evening, I may journal about some challenges I’ve had and how they made me feel.
Writing all that out helps release it from your mind, and it takes the weight off your chest. You’ll feel better after that, trust me.
Some of my journaling includes forgiveness/truth letters to people who have hurt me. Triggers pop up randomly, and I need to get the hurt and anger out. These types of letters are extremely therapeutic.
You can also simply write just to write out your feelings, regardless of what they are. Good, bad, happy or sad. And when you’re feeling worthless and poopy, a love letter to yourself is gold!
These letters are journaling. Here’s a great article from Mental Health America on how to keep a journal for mental health.
13 Benefits of Journaling
1. Enhanced Self-Reflection
It’s easy for us to get caught up in our emotions and allow them to control us. Many of us are also really good at hiding or burying our emotions in hopes that they will go away. That’s not how it works, and you will never heal from your pain if you do that.
Journaling daily will increase your awareness of your thoughts and emotions helping you to get more clarity and understand yourself more. When we dig deep down and really feel the feels, we can understand them better and work towards healing.
2. Stress Reduction
In my opinion, one of the best benefits of journaling is stress reduction. This is a powerful way to unload and release negative emotions so they aren’t trapped inside of you. We carry so much pain around without realizing how heavy and damaging it is to us, mentally and physically.
Journaling your thoughts promotes relaxation and inner peace.
3. Improved Mental Health
It’s no secret that we bottle up all our emotions, good and bad, and bury them deep so they don’t resurface and no one can see them. Please don’t do that. You’ll eventually boil over with hurt, anger, and pain and eventually erupt, hurting those around you.
When we journal our emotions, it helps to manage anxiety and depression and has the potential to boost our mood and emotional well-being.
4. Increased Creativity
One of the surprising benefits of journaling is that it stimulates imagination and innovative thinking. Automatic writing is one way that helps your creative juices flow naturally, and it’s wonderful. All journaling doesn’t have to be solely for your mental health.
As you start writing and jotting down thoughts, emotions, and ideas, it might surprise you that some creative answers to your problems suddenly appear.
5. Emotional Healing
I know I’ve already mentioned it here, but writing is so therapeutic. Remember, keeping all your emotions bottled up inside only hurts you more. Journaling helps in processing and healing emotional wounds.
It’s also a really great way to allow for forgiveness to those who hurt you and yourself and to help you have a little self-compassion.
6. Increased Self-Awareness
Once you’ve been journaling for a while, you’ll be able to start recognizing patterns and behaviors that you’ve adopted that probably need some healing work. It helps us to become more aware of who we are and why we have been doing or tolerating toxic behaviors from others for so long.
When you start identifying these key points, you can recognize your personal strengths/weaknesses and locate the areas for growth.
7. Clears Your Mind
Let it gooooooooo!!! All those hurtful, toxic thoughts that are plaguing you night and day need to be released. Period. Writing your thoughts down on paper can help to clear your mind and allow you to process your emotions.
I can recall many times while journaling how different I felt once I was done. I felt a lot freer and lighter. I was also able to think more clearly without anxiety.
8. Provides a Safe Space
We can share some secrets with some friends, and other secrets with other friends but let’s be honest here, there are just some things you don’t want to share with anyone, at all, ever. One of the greatest benefits of journaling is that it’s a space for you to get those thoughts out without being judged or shamed.
Journaling can be a safe space to explore difficult or painful emotions that you may not feel comfortable sharing with others.
9. Increased Productivity
You know that when your mind is full of toxic, chaotic, and stressful thoughts, there’s no room for productivity. I mean, you probably don’t want to do anything that involves thinking or moving at all. Journaling helps clear the mind and enhances focus so you can work on things that matter.
Once your mind is less cluttered, you’ll have more time to focus on more things, hopefully more joyful things!
10. Improves Sleep
If you suffer from insomnia, journaling will be your new best friend. Too often, we go to bed with so many thoughts ravaging our minds it becomes impossible to sleep. If you write out all those thoughts before bed, you’ll be in a more peaceful state to promote sleep.
It’s so important to quiet the mind before bed and one of the best benefits of journaling, especially before bed, is that it does just that: quiets your mind.
Benefits of Daily Journaling
It can be hard to get into the habit of journaling, especially when you’ve never done it before, but once you start and get into a nice morning or evening routine, it’ll become second nature to you.
Just as we need to take care of our bodies daily through food and hygiene, it’s also crucial to take care of your mental health daily as well. Journaling is a powerful way to do this.
Benefits of Gratitude Journaling
I want to talk a little more about the benefits of gratitude journaling. This is something I do every single morning before I really start my day.
Actually, I pray a bit first, and then I pull out my journal and write out all the things I’m grateful for. A grateful heart is a magnet for miracles. Take some time each day to count your blessings, not your problems.
This is so important. Too often, we forget to be grateful for the things in our lives, even the tiny things.
How long should you journal a day?
There’s no magic number here. You journal for as long as you have to or for as little time as you have; the most important thing is that you take time each day to do it.
It’s important to make time for it. Morning, afternoon, or evening – doesn’t matter. Just do it.
Journaling is a simple yet incredibly powerful practice that can have a huge impact on your mental, emotional, and physical well-being. Whether you’re looking to reduce stress, increase self-awareness, or crush insomnia, the benefits of journaling are undeniable.
Grab a pen and paper, find a quiet space, and let your thoughts flow onto the page. You might just be surprised at the impact it can have on your life. Give yourself the gift of self-expression, reflection, and inner peace. It’s time you take control of your mind and life.
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