People have been keeping journals for centuries. Records dating back as far as 55 AD China reveal inscriptions of people’s daily sentiments, ideas, and musings. From great thinkers like Albert Einstein to everyday individuals like Anne Frank, people of all backgrounds, ambitions, and cultures have kept journals for various purposes.
But what role does journaling play in your life? Maybe you used to have a journal at school that’s now lying under your bed, hidden under a pile of books and photo albums, collecting dust. Maybe you have a close friend or family member who keeps a journal and writes daily entries. Or maybe journaling is something that you think belongs in the movies–something childish that you don’t think is worth taking time out of your day for.
Wherever you stand, the fact is that regularly journaling has immense mental health benefits that are worth recognizing. Not only can journaling help reduce your daily stress, but it can help navigate through challenging dilemmas, better process your emotions, and reveal new perspectives.
1. Daily journaling helps reduce stress.
According to a 2018 research review, spending some time every day to write your thoughts and feelings can lead to lower stress-related visits to the doctor’s office, improved mood, and greater well-being. The next time you’re feeling overwhelmed about that big assignment you have due or the important work meeting you have coming up, find some time in your day to write down what you’re feeling.
2. Journaling can help you navigate through dilemmas.
Oftentimes we find ourselves at a crossroads, faced with problems that force us to make difficult, stressful decisions. When faced with a challenging dilemma, taking some time to write down your difficulties can help guide your brain toward the right decision. Writing down the pros and cons of each possible course of action can help you process the implications of an otherwise emotionally overwhelming decision.
3. Journaling can help you process your emotions.
Our emotions aren’t always clear to us. Sometimes we’re faced with situations that leave us feeling conflicted, unsure of how we feel, or confused about how we’re supposed to feel. In situations like this, writing down the specific emotions we feel in detail can help us process our emotional condition and bring us one step closer to finding peace with our emotions.
4. Journaling can reveal new perspectives.
Somewhere in the depths of our brain is a breadth of ideas and perspectives we may never have thought existed. Sometimes, all it takes to discover new perspectives is an effort to dig deeper than the surface of our brains. Journaling can allow you to take a moment from your day and scratch that surface.
If you’ve never journaled before, you might find yourself unsure of what to write in your first entry. Don’t worry, it’s pretty simple. The beauty of journaling is that there are no rules. All you have to do is pick up a writing utensil, and write what you’re feeling. It doesn’t need to sound pretty or be grammatically correct. So grab a pencil and a piece of paper and journal away.