Do you know, you were involved in journaling regularly when in your teens?
You must have had a diary when you were a teenager. The journal mostly lived under your mattress. This diary was your best friend. It was the safest place you could imagine. The diary had all your secrets, anger, anxieties, troubles, elusive thoughts, etc. When you wrote in your diary, you were not afraid of being judged or punished for what you wrote. The process of getting your thoughts out of your head and putting them down on a piece of paper felt nice. When the thoughts were written on the paper, the brain felt less foggy, and the world appeared less hazy.
As time passed, you grew older. You start having less and less time for that best friend of yours. Eventually, you forgot about your diary completely. However, the stress of life continued to increase. The struggle of maintaining your mental health and keeping It on the positive side of the spectrum started to become more and more difficult. Now, your brain is filled with thoughts that require a release. Why not go back to your best friend from childhood? Having a diary is now referred to as journaling. The process is as simple as putting down whatever is going on your head on a piece of paper. Having your thoughts and feelings written down allows you to comprehend them better.
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What is journaling?
Journaling is the act of maintaining a record of your personal feelings, discoveries, thought processes, etc. You do not have to necessarily note down what is most important in your journal. Your journal can contain anything from the random thoughts in your head, what you want to know, who you don’t like, how you wish the world was etc. What you can put down in your journal is limitless. You can either choose to go for an offline journal like a diary/notebook or opt for an online journal like typing on your computer or writing down your feelings on a note-taking app on the tablet. The simple practice of jotting down your thought processes is a straightforward, low-cost, and quick way to work and boost your confidence and mental health.
How can journaling help mental health?
When the world starts to feel overwhelming, people need a release. Some people find escape in painting, sculpting, walking, hiking, running, etc. Some people find their freedom in the form of writing. There is one problem with all the other forms of release options. When you run, hike, jog, paint, etc., there is no way to revisit your emotions at that point later. However, when you journal your thoughts, your thoughts get immortalized on a piece of paper or in an online document. You have the option of going back, revisiting your thoughts, and analyzing the emotions that you are feeling when you write those lines. This is not available with any of the other forms of release. This is why counselors ask patients to journal their thought processes to be reanalyzed and reassessed at a later point in time. When you journal, you can also check your progress over time. How your mood patterns have changed, how your perceptions have altered, the feelings which are constant, and the feelings that are in an active roll, etc. These factors can only be assessed when you engage in regular journaling.
How can journaling help with depression?
There are many ways journaling can help you if you are struggling with depressive disorders. Maintaining a journal can help you manage your symptoms, track your progress, and enhance your mood by prioritizing which issue has been worrying you the most.
When you journal regularly, you can track your symptoms daily. This way, you learn what is acting as a trigger to the depressive episodes. Once you have a fair idea of the trigger, you can then work on desensitizing yourself towards the trigger or asking people in your immediate vicinity not to do anything that may act as a trigger for your depressive episode.
Your journal is your safe space. You know that no one will ever look into what is written there. Thus, you can safely create an environment of positive self-talk and recognize your negative ideas and behavior, contributing to your depression. When you write down the problems you face, you also figure out the solution you need to work on to deal with the situation. When you engage in journaling regularly, your brain becomes more analytical. It analyzes the problems to find a solution. The answer is often right in front of us, but it is hard to spot. Journaling provides you with that microscopic view needed to locate the key hidden in your own words.
Finally, having a notebook with a ton of stickers would remind you of your childhood, a time that was much happier and more peaceful. The memories would provide you with a sense of calm and relaxation.
How does journaling boost self-confidence?
When you journal, you keep track of all your goals and accomplishments regularly. Eventually, a month or 15 days later, when you look back through those pages, you realize how much you have grown, what goals you have completed, and which goals you still have to work on. When you track your progress, you see your growth. Knowing that you are growing as a person and gaining skills helps boost self-confidence. You feel good about the path you have taken and about the journey you have been on.
With us constantly existing in a social media world, it has become challenging to unplug. However, it becomes your ‘me’ time when you journal regularly. It becomes a time when nothing else exists in the world except you and your journal. Spending time with your journal helps you unwind, reboots the brain, allows your brain to analyze all perspectives, and helps enhance relationships [because you start understanding the other person much better as you write down your experiences].
|How can journaling boost self-confidence?
How does journaling help emotional health?
Emotional health is primarily related to the mood of the person. Over time, journaling habits evolve. The people involved in journaling regularly get more attuned to their emotional health while connecting with their inner desires and wants. Journaling also promotes awareness and assists individuals in being present in the current situation while maintaining their own perspectives.
The habit of expressive writing allows for emotional catharsis and emotional regulation in the brain. It improves a person’s self-identity and provides a better sense of self-assurance. Journaling can help people handle specific life changes, personal adversity, and grief. It can also help highlight patterns and growth phases of the person. When people look back at what they have written previously, they start to think logically and more analytically. This helps them construct a more structured and logical scheme about themselves and their environment. Writing has also been known to activate the creativity of the brain’s right side, allowing people to use the brainpower that is otherwise not accessed. Thus, journaling, in other words, promotes mental and emotional health.
What are the other benefits of journaling?
There are various benefits to journaling regularly. Journaling is not a relic of the past anymore. It is also not restricted to people of specific age groups. Besides helping you think analytically, journaling also benefits your health in various ways.
When your daily life is complex, and it seems that everywhere you go, all you can feel is stress. This buildup of pressure can negatively impact your emotional, mental, and physical well-being. It has been observed that journaling regularly can act as an excellent stress management system and as a healthy practice that reduces the negative effect of stress on your physical health. Recently researchers found that if you spend around 20 minutes on your journal, 3 to 5 times every day over four months, it can reduce blood pressure and enhance your liver function. Furthermore, describing your stressful events can help you manage them in a better manner. If you want to avoid your everyday stress, make journaling a habit.
Improvement in immune function
This might be hard to comprehend, but it has been observed that expressive writing can boost a person’s immunity and reduce the risk of sickness. Journaling has also been linked to a better function of the immune system. It has been shown to reduce rheumatoid arthritis and asthma symptoms. Expressive writing has been observed to boost the liver and lung function and combat specific ailments. If a person is wounded, expressive writing has been observed to enhance healing.
Sharpens the memory
Journaling is a fantastic way of keeping your mind active and in shape. It not only improves understanding and memory but also boosts the capacity of the memory to think analytically logically and enhances the process of cognitive thinking.
Improvement in mood
When the heart is unburdened, you will feel better even though it is on a piece of paper. Thus, journaling can significantly enhance your mood and provide you with a greater sense of emotional well-being and satisfaction.
When you journal about your emotions, you reduce your mental anguish. A study was conducted on patients with illnesses and anxiety. They were asked to write online for 15 minutes, three times a week for 12 weeks. After 12 weeks, researchers observed that the participants felt better and showed a reduction of the symptoms of depression. Thus, journaling regularly improved the mental health of the participants.
Helps in recovering from traumatic past
When a person has had a traumatic past, they generally tend to enter into a never-ending cycle of compulsively thinking and worrying over what already happened and what might happen. Journaling can help break this never-ending cycle of negative thought loops. You start with writing about the traumatic experience. Sometimes, people cannot verbally speak about their traumatic past. Under such circumstances, writing can be of great help. Once they have written down the instances of their traumatic past, they can revisit it at a different time and look at it more logically. Thus, a memory may come to the surface that they could not remember before due to the blocking defense mechanism of the brain. This would help them understand the situation more clearly. However, some studies have also indicated that writing down a terrible incident right after it occurs can make people feel worse. However, in the future, it might be extremely beneficial.
When life is difficult, the brain becomes a mess. Writing down what has been bothering you about the challenging circumstance can help you navigate your feelings. You will be able to build new perceptions about the occurrences by reading your own words and filling up the gaps that were there before.
Helps keep emotions in check
It has been observed that people who write about their sentiments have better emotional control compared to those who do not. Furthermore, those who engage in abstract writing have been observed to be more relaxed compared to those who write vividly.
Encourages people to open up
As I mentioned before, sometimes it is challenging for individuals to describe their traumatic past to the counselor. Under such circumstances, writing can help the person explain what really happened without saying a word. This helps in emotional recovery.
Whether you’ve had a traumatic past, are suffering from PTSD, depression, or are under severe stress of everyday life, you can benefit from journaling regularly. All you need to do is find a notebook and a pen, a laptop or tablet and start noting down your feelings. It does not have to be relevant or meaningful. Just write whatever comes to your mind. Making journaling a habit can help you battle stress, anxiety, depression, PTSD, and other mental health issues. Furthermore, you can boost your emotional quotient by analyzing your past and working on yourself, work on your confidence levels and finally, boost self-confidence by understanding the journey you have been through and how far you have come.
Find some time every day to journal. You don’t have to spend five minutes of every hour journaling. Start with baby steps. Take out 15 minutes from your time on an everyday basis to journal. Eventually, you can incorporate this habit at different times of the day. There is no right or wrong mannerism of journaling. Whatever you do is right. You do not need to bother about your sentence structure, spelling, or what others may feel if they read the journal. Your journal is your safe space. You can write anything you want about whoever you want. If you want to know how you should start journaling, stay tuned for the next blog post.
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|Journaling regularly can boost mental health
Do you journal? Since when have you been journaling? How did you start? How did you make it part of your everyday life? How has journaling regularly helped boost your emotional health? Please share your experiences about journaling in the comment section below so that others stuck in a similar predicament can work through it. Remember to not have unrealistic expectations for yourself. It will take time for the habit to cement and for journaling to take effect. However, it will assist you in learning much more about yourself and seeing yourself in a new light.
See you in my next blog post