Journaling has been proven to be an effective tool for combatting symptoms of depression, anxiety, and improving overall mental health. Many of us may have journaled when we were younger and then abandoned the practice as we got older, busier, and perhaps less interested. You may even believe that the introspective nature of journaling encourages a sort of self-centeredness inappropriate in adulthood.
However, journaling is simply a tool. There are as many different ways of journaling as there are people who choose to journal. But the general consensus is clear: journaling is good for us. Study after study shows it. Writing expressively can improve cancer patients’ psychological and physiological health, enhance marital satisfaction (1), and even boost employment rates among job searchers.
Considering all the benefits of a regular journaling habit, it is well worth trying out or revisiting as part of positive self-care. At Fort Behavioral Health, our dual diagnosis treatment program uses journaling as part of the healing process.
The Benefits of Journaling
The many benefits of journaling include:
- Journaling helps you manage your emotions. Journaling about your feelings helps you identify your emotions, identify the triggers for those emotions, and take action around the emotions.
- Journaling helps improve communication skills. Writing is a form of communication. Often, the hardest things to communicate are the things we experience internally. Journaling teaches you how to articulate your thoughts and feelings — even if you think you are just free-writing.
- Journaling may also make you feel more comfortable talking about certain subjects, as you have already had some “practice” doing it. This can enhance both your willingness and ability to share your thoughts and feelings with loved ones.
- Journaling helps you set and achieve goals. If you have a goal in mind, journaling helps you work out the details around that goal. It encourages you to keep yourself accountable and teaches you that no goal is too overwhelming when you take it one day, one step at a time.
- Journaling helps improve your problem-solving skills. By writing about your problems, you gain perspective on them. You start to notice certain patterns and trends. You start to see where they may have started and where they may go. With this level of clarity, you may find solutions to problems you would not have thought of otherwise.
- Journaling helps enhance creativity and curiosity. Although journaling is an introspective, solitary act, we do not exist in a vacuum. We are always interacting with the world and engaging with other people. These experiences, the impressions they leave, and the decisions we make around them will inevitably make their way into our writing. You may find yourself looking outside of yourself with more curiosity and finding new ways of expressing what you see.
- Journaling helps build self-discipline. Habits are difficult to build. It requires patience, perseverance, and focus. By successfully practicing self-discipline in this area of your life, you may find it easier to build self-discipline in other areas as well.
- Journaling helps reduce the stress of trauma. Researchers have found that writing about trauma and the thoughts and feelings surrounding trauma help people process their experiences. For example, women who participated in writing exercises showed greater reductions in PTSD symptoms, depression, and anxiety (2). The same was true for another study examining the effects of journaling on women with a history of childhood sexual abuse (3).
- Journaling helps improve physical health. By improving overall mental health, journaling also improves physiological health (4). Some notable physical benefits of journaling include improved memory, better sleep, lower blood pressure, and a stronger immune system.
Get Started with Journaling Today at Fort Behavioral Health
Journaling is a cheap and accessible way of improving your mental health. It is easy to work into your self-care routine and can even be used in tandem with therapy or other mental health treatment. At Fort Behavioral Health, we encourage people to implement journaling as part of the self-care routine. Learn more by calling 844.332.1807 or completing our online form today.