5 Health Benefits of Journaling
By Chris Brown
It may only take a pen, a notebook, and 15-minutes per day for you to change your life for the better. Journaling has been shown to improve mood, mental stability, and even physical health. Improve your mental and physical states with these five reasons to start a practice of journaling today.
Reduces Anxiety and Depression
There is much research into journaling's effects upon depression and anxiety. Most have seen links between frequent journaling and reduced mental distress. In fact, a 2006 study found journal writing to be as effective as cognitive-behavioral therapy at reducing depression symptoms in adolescents. In a separate study, researchers found that those who wrote for simply 15 minutes three times a week had measurable increases in well-being, with reduced anxiety and depression, after 12 weeks. Anxiety only reduced further for participants who maintained this practice over the following year.
Helps You Get Over Traumas and PTSD Symptoms
In times of trauma, obsessive thoughts and negative rumination can run rampant. Studies have found that journaling can help one process traumatic events and reduce obsessive thoughts in the process. The trick, according to a study of 120 college students, is to write about both one's feelings about traumatic events as well as rational strategies for coping with the stresses. Keeping the idea of a traumatic event's "silver lining" while you journal also helps reframe the tragedy into a more manageable, controllable situation in your head.
Regulates Your Emotions
The ability of journaling to regulate one's emotions has been quantitatively revealed in brain scans of study participants. This is theorized to arise from the fact that journaling allows the writer to frame their pent-up negative emotions into a positive and proactive light. This, in turn, creates a barrier between the negativity of the emotion and their sense of well-being.
Improves Your Memory
Because reducing daily anxieties increases bandwidth for the brain, a side effect of journaling is an improved short-term and working memory. This was shown in a 2001 study in which journaling students were found to develop greater short-term memory and improved grades for a full semester following the experiment.
Can Physically Heal You
If you think journaling's benefits are limited to mental health, you'd be entirely mistaken according to multiple studies on its effects upon physical ailments. In one study out of New Zealand, adults who journaled about sad events 20 minutes a day following a biopsy healed quicker than those who did not. Other studies have shown that these benefits may extend to both aiding the effectiveness of vaccines and preventing future illnesses. In one such study, students who wrote about stressful events daily were less likely to fall ill that semester than those who were assigned more neutral writing topics.
A daily journal writing practice can alleviate many mental health concerns and could keep you physically healthier. Starting a journaling routine is not difficult, but requires discipline until it becomes habitual.
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