Content Table - Benefits of Journaling for Mental Health
I keep and maintain a daily journal religiously. It has become an important part of my morning routine and it helps me to cultivate a positive start to my day, all whilst forming an important and integral part of my mental health management toolkit.
The benefits of journaling for mental health are numerous and because I’ve had such positive experiences with this process I was really keen to share those experiences here. In addition and in support of journalers everywhere we’ll be shortly releasing some related products in our Bee Amigos Shop to really help you enjoy the process, an A5 black or gold dotted journal with a gold inlaid bee. For every sale we’ll be making a donation to a local charity, Don’t Lose Hope, who provide counselling services and support to people of all ages, you can read more about the great work they do here at dontlosehope.co.uk.
Not only are there benefits to journaling, but there are scientific benefits which have been scrutinised and peer reviewed in depth, some areas require additional study for sure but the overall premise is the same, journaling is proven to help with your overall health and wellbeing. So lets jump into some of those specifics and we’ll follow up on how best to get started.
Benefits of Journaling for mental health
Reduces stress and anxiety
We all have areas and events in our lives which add to our daily stresses and exacerbate our anxieties, they bounce around erratically in our head, not giving us a moments peace; without some time to reflect and focus on those concerns they start to impact us in various ways depending on our personalities. We might become more snappy, less tolerant of others, want to eat more, want to sleep more, etc. Usually nothing positive.
Taking a little time and engaging directly with those anxieties by putting them to paper helps us to cultivate a better understanding of why these things are worrying us. It’s a common problem for many that we often turn a small concern into a worst case scenario so writing about it helps us to maintain a more realistic and grounded perspective. Sometimes the worry is about something we have absolutely no control over so we can look to identify those specifically and cast them aside, you have enough to concern yourself with and with all the will in the universe you can’t control something you can’t control.
With a little practice, journaling will naturally provide you with an avenue for reducing stress and anxiety and either set your day off on the right foot or allow you to deflate comfortably at the end of a hectic day.
Helps you to regulate your emotions
Similarly through this process of reducing your stress and anxiety, you are engaged in a process that will help you better understand your emotional state and what your emotional triggers are. Writing about how you feel in different situations is often eye opening, you will start to understand yourself better and overtime you can better regulate your emotional states in the moment and not just review them retrospectively. It’s a skill that takes time to hone fully following a commitment to the journaling practice but it’s a huge pay off.
Improve your immune system and physical health
One benefit of journaling is something that probably requires more scrutiny and that’s the study showing improvement in your immune system and speeding up the repair of physical injury. This is both misleading and … true. Sort of.
Journaling as we’ve alluded to already helps reduce stress levels and as a million other studies show, your mental and physical health are tightly interwoven. Any detrimental impact on one will have a negative impact on the other. Any positive improvement on one and there you go, potential positive returns on the other. Journaling isn’t directly improving your immune system and physical health, the reduction in stress levels however probably are, so don’t expect anything too extraordinary. Journaling as part of your mental health toolkit will assist in maintaining healthy bodily function overall and even a little can only be a good thing.
Help you to recover from trauma
At some point in our lives we’ll suffer from a shocking or traumatic event that sends us reeling and with very little in the way of recourse, often, at the time or around the time of this event it can feel that there’s little that can be said or done to dig you out of the emotional difficulty that you find yourself in. If that sounds familiar to you then writing might be a way to tackle something emotionally difficult yourself without having to endure what might feel like empty platitudes from others, or address that temporary state of hopelessness.
Writing will help you process what has happened internally and help you make sense of what’s happening, why it happened, and perhaps help you find a way to start moving forward. Some things like this can be a little double-edged and in early stages of such an event it might not be the right time to start fully investigating it through your journal, if that’s the case then leave it, allow a little more time to pass and try again.
The benefits of journaling for mental health are important but they are not a replacement for seeking professional support. Journaling should be supplementary and not the primary means to deal with trauma.
Improve your writing and communication skills
This is perhaps a better understood benefit because it’s self-evident in the process. Writing regularly, often, about complex ideas and thoughts will help you to better express and put ideas into words. As a side effect you are naturally improving your writing. When (if) you are using paper and pen you are also switching the writing gear, taking your time and really processing your sentences further developing this skill.
As for the communication part? We live and operate in a digital world of communication and email, social media, text messaging, are often primary forms of written communication and are usually preferred over verbal, at least in the first instance. Any opportunity to sharpen your writing is a beneficial side effect. The verbal side is improved as you learn to better articulate your thoughts and ideas. Combine the practice with regular reading (a challenging book from time to time) and this will further strengthen your vocabulary.
Through the process of journaling you’ll be recalling, retaining, organising, and processing past and present events on a nearly daily basis. Because of this it’s not surprising to see that through your journal journey you’ll be helping to strengthen your long term memory. Journaling is a truly incredible way to stimulate cognitive function and it’s in the regularity that drives and maintains that improvement.
Help to articulate thoughts and ideas
There’s a surprising amount going on inside our heads that rarely sees the light of day, all those thoughts and ideas sometimes never get the opportunity to be heard and putting them to paper does a couple of things. It helps you better understand your own thoughts and ideas by putting them into words that make sense, it gives them form and helps you correct your own thinking. Your ideas are important and writing can help flesh them out fully into something more actionable.
If the intent is to present your ideas to others it can be really difficult to express them on the fly in the hope you can make sense of them as you go, writing helps you to prepare them to be heard by others after you’ve ironed out your own kinks and errors of judgement. For this reason alone, journaling is a critical skill for knowledge works by allowing you to get your thinking straight and coherent.
Learn to open up
This is an important one for me. Guys are notoriously bad at opening up and talking about the way they feel, it’s a well-documented phenomenon usually attributed to either our societal upbringing or something more deep rooted in evolution. Either way, we suck at it. Women are generally much better so instead may prefer my previous point in that journaling can help you better articulate how they’re feeling.
For me personally the inability to open up and be completely upfront about how I feel about any given situation has hampered both my personal and professional relationships in the past. Journaling has carefully picked away at the shell allowing me to get out what I need and confide in the important people in my life.
Eliminate unnecessary brooding
Sometimes it will get the better of me, whatever it is, and I’ll brood for a notoriously long time if left unchecked. Brooding over a particular problem has a range of negatives that would easily generate another 2000 words but needless to say the process just draws out the anguish and agitation which gets in the way of life in general. Putting frustrations to paper can alleviate that brooding process, it gets it all out and once reflected it’s likely (in most cases) that you’ll realise that it just isn’t worth your attention.
Get Started with Journaling
I’m often asked how one gets started. Googling the question will present methods, techniques, and processes that verge on the excessive and anal-retentive. Bullet journaling, gratitude journaling, task managing, habit journals, commonplace journals. Journaling for the morning, the evening, dream journaling. I could go on. What this inevitably does is create the impression for those starting up that there’s a particular or specific way to journal, but this couldn’t be further from the truth.
It doesn’t hurt to investigate what others are doing for a little inspiration, but when all is said and done, you just need to pick up a pen and write. About whatever you want, whenever you want, and how much you want. What’s important to begin with is just to do it on a regular basis, look to build in five minutes into your daily routine and let it develop from there. How you journal will constantly evolve.
When we say pen and paper, this is absolutely our tool of choice. As mentioned already this way will ensure that you slow your writing and take your time processing your thoughts. As someone who has lived the majority of their professional career in front of a computer I found the pen an paper liberating and you should look to start this way at the very least.
Dotted Journal with Gold Bee
To further inspire anyone wanting to try journaling, whether for fun, prosperity, or mental health I wanted to find the right tools and make them available on our online shop. This took a crazy amount of time but we finally found something fitting. An A5 dotted journal in either gold or black with an inlaid golden bee design.
160GSM TOP-GRADE PAPER – Thicker paper resistant to bleeding, rough erasing, and shading. Perfect as a Bullet planner, travel notebook, journal, diary, business/executive / office notebook, gift, workout journal, travel journal, school journal, recipe journal you name it. Just make it yours 🙂
DURABLE HARDCOVER JOURNAL – A stronger hardcover than the average notebook. Our Notebooks and Journals are lay flat binding to allow for easy and convenient writing. Size: A5+ Medium (16 x 21.5 cm); 160 pages. Dotted and Numbered.
STYLISH DESIGN – These journals are simple yet beautifully designed, sporting a gold inlaid bee. Fits well in the hand and perfectly sized to take on the go.
EXTRA FEATURES – Also includes a re-enforced rear pocket, dual page markers, an extra thick elastic belly band, pen holder, index, key and pen test pages so you don’t ruin your pages.