If you’re like me, the phrase “keeping a diary” probably invokes some specific imagery. Maybe a slumber party, or frantically burying your diary in your sock drawer to keep it away from a sibling. Maybe it seems plain-old old fashioned. However, there are some very real benefits to keeping a diary or journal. They aren’t just short-term benefits from venting about an annoying occurrence, either—you can reap long-term benefits, too. Here’s how journaling helps you the most.
You know that stress takes a mental toll, but it can cause physical harm, too. Journaling can help you manage stress because it allows you to get out negative thoughts. It also gives you a healthy way to manage stressful experiences. In fact, 15 to 20 minutes of journaling can help lower blood pressure over time.
Journaling about stressful events doesn’t just help you comprehend them. It can also improve your mood. The “expressive writing” characteristic of journaling has been used as a method of therapy since the 1980s. So, if you begin journaling, you may notice you’re more in touch with your emotions and experience fewer depressive symptoms.
Journaling helps you remember things better. It can also enhance your comprehension and expand the capacity of your working memory. This may be because writing out your feelings helps you make better sense of stressful events.
In a study, researchers found people who journal regularly are less likely to get sick. Journaling even helps people fight specific diseases, including AIDS, asthma, and cancer. The same study showed it may also help your body heal physical wounds more quickly.
Journaling doesn’t just improve your day-to-day mood. It has long-term benefits on your overall emotional well-being. You may notice yourself becoming more mindful and able to remain present. The emotional catharsis you receive through journaling can also help you regulate your emotions and feel more confident.
The good news is, it doesn’t take much to start journaling. While physically putting pen to paper is most effective, you can also benefit from writing on the computer. You don’t even need any fancy supplies to begin—any old notebook will do.