Journaling is just one of many popular ways to enrich our lives. You’ve probably heard about them: the power of writing things down, the benefits of visualization, even the ability to “write your own history.” Well, journaling isn’t so much about remembering things but it’s more about documenting what you do, who you are, and how you see the world. As a society, we are constantly learning and changing. And through our journals, we are revealing to ourselves what we have learned and what we’re still learning. Here are 10 ways journaling benefits you both mentally and physically.
Journaling provides an expressive writing space that allows you to sort out your thoughts, feelings, and experiences. If you feel stuck or frustrated about something in your life, jot down your thoughts and observations about the situation. Over time, this will help you to recognize patterns or to find new insights into your situations. Journaling can foster a feeling of openness and accountability with yourself that will lead to better mental health.
Another way to benefit from journaling is to improve your working memory. A working memory is your mental “working pencil,” enabling you to rapidly process large amounts of information. Like an artist working in paint or pencil, your brain uses imagination, schematics, and association to recall details and images. But like an architect working with blueprints, your brain has to translate the actual physical information you are looking at into the abstract mental pictures you have in your head. Regular journaling practice strengthens your working memory by encouraging you to notice your thoughts and then mentally translate those thoughts into actual actions or accomplishments.
Poor memory is not the only thing that negatively impacts how well you remember things. Many people also have trouble focusing and staying on task. This leads to a decrease in productivity and can even lead to a decrease in your self-esteem. By regularly journaling about your thoughts and experiences, you can notice when you become distracted, step back, and refocus your attention. You might even learn new ways of focusing and staying focused so you don’t lose track of time as easily.
Finally, one of the greatest benefits of journaling comes to you through the development of your critical thinking skills. Your critical thinking skills are nothing more than your mental version of Kung-fu. When you focus and pay attention, you become more aware of potential problems or opportunities. You can develop greater abilities in such areas as mathematics, music, and art as a result of your increased ability to think critically.
If you are experiencing trouble remembering things and your memory is suffering as a result, a journal can be a great ally. You may find yourself writing as a means of coping or as an aid to remember things. Your journal may even help you realize what may be a lack of focus or concentration. As you continue to read your journal and take note of your thoughts, you may find yourself developing skills that you never realized you had. In fact, your brainpower may increase as a direct result of your journaling.
Another great benefit of journaling comes to you via a mental health perspective. People who are working toward self-discovery and self-improvement will often keep track of their thoughts and experiences in a daily journal. By doing this, they are keeping track of patterns and activities that lead up to particular goals and initiatives. If you are working towards changing a habit, for example, you may find that keeping a journal helps you stay on task and focus. On the other hand, if you are working to manage your stress levels, journaling can allow you to identify potential stressors and better prepare for coping with them in the future.
Finally, another powerful benefit of journaling relates to motivation. If you find yourself procrastinating, or not getting anything done in your life because you are in a “zone,” you may want to jot down some thoughts and observations as a way of identifying where you need to focus your energy and fortitude. It can be very beneficial to take a moment to write down your goals and to see what your goals would look like when all the planning is done. Likewise, if you notice that you are becoming distracted or lose focus, you can quickly jot down a note to remind yourself of what needs to be done. Ultimately, working to improve your mental health and to develop a sense of purpose and direction through your daily journaling can prove to be a tremendous source of motivation.
Lisa is a lifestyle article writer for a local newspaper. Aside from that, she is part-time English teacher on a high school. She also speaks at seminars and workshops. She is currently living with her husband and two kids.