Journaling has always been a popular hobby among people of all ages, but it really soared to new heights during the pandemic.
Many individuals who were isolated at home turned to journaling to work out their thoughts and stave off feelings of loneliness.
One of the biggest appeals of journaling is there is no wrong way to journal. Journaling involves writing your thoughts and feelings in as much detail as you like.
Some use journaling to process their negative feelings, writing how they are feeling and exploring what is causing unhappiness. Others use journaling to celebrate their happiness. It is also a way to explore what you want for the future.
No matter what your reason, journaling is a great hobby for self-improvement. There are also practical benefits to journaling as well, such as reducing your stress and improving your health.
Find more benefits of journaling and get tips for how you can get started.
Getting Started with Journaling
There are several journaling techniques out there.
Some writers are more comfortable with a formal, handwritten journal. Handwriting may feel more personal, but digital journals are also acceptable.
Digital journals are often preferable because it is common to have a computer on hand, plus everything can be stored locally. If you want to get rid of an entry, it is as simple as deleting a file.
One of the hardest parts about starting a journal is turning off your inner critic. Part of the fun of writing a journal is the freedom.
There are no right or wrong ways to journal. You do not need to worry about your spelling mistakes or whether you use the proper format.
Plus, you can write as much or as little as you want. You do not need to constantly write in your journal, or if you are having a particularly impactful day, you can write multiple entries.
You can also choose what you write about. Some days, you may want to go into detail about your feelings, but the next you may choose to write about an amusing incident at work or a dream you had.
With your journal, you are always writing for yourself. If you are having trouble getting started, there are plenty of online journal prompts to help get you writing.
1. It Can Improve Mental Health
Journaling can be a wonderful way to improve your mental health. Writing down your thoughts is a way to relax, manage your anxiety and deal with depression.
Medical studies also show journaling is a safe way to identify and prioritize your problems.
Many individuals who are unhappy may not understand what is causing their depression. When you journal, you can honestly appraise your feelings, and you may subconsciously write down a source of stress you were otherwise keeping compartmentalized.
Identifying what causes your stress is the first step in overcoming your anxiety. You can also use a journal to study what does and does not help you deal with stress.
You may notice on certain days you perform specific activities or avoid certain situations which ultimately make you happier.
Journaling is also another way to look at your day. Many writers use their journal as a source of humor, writing jokes and amusing anecdotes about their day.
Humor is an excellent and healthy way to deal with anxiety, and if you are feeling down, you can go back and read your previous entries to boost your mood.
2. It Can Improve Your Physical Health
Journaling is not only good for your cognitive health, but it can also boost your immune system and help you recover quicker from illnesses.
The positive health benefits of journaling have long been up for debate in the medical community. But in 2018, a Cambridge study put the issue to rest.
Participants were told to write their deepest thoughts and discuss stressful situations in their journal for a period of four months. The study showed these participants experienced fewer doctor visits and less sick days.
A 2013 study conducted in New Zealand produced comparable results. In this study, participants with ongoing conditions were told to journal about their experiences for a brief period. The participants experienced relieved symptoms and faster recovery times after journaling.
3. It Can Help You Organize Your Goals
Journaling can be great for your health, but it has practical benefits as well. If you’d categorize yourself as an “unorganized” person, you might find it helpful to gather your thoughts while you are journaling.
Instead of writing about your feelings, you can focus on your future goals, using your journal as an opportunity to explore different ideas. This is especially popular among athletes, who set training goals for themselves.
Even if you are unable to reach your goal, you can track your progress and use the information to come up with more realistic goals in the future. It may also help you think about why you were unable to meet those goals in the first place and give you insight on what areas you need to improve upon.
4. It Can Boost Your Self-Confidence
Journaling is a wonderful way to boost your self-confidence.
It is easy to overlook your personal achievements if they are not highlighted. When you record your successes, it allows you to take a deeper look at everything you accomplished.
It also provides you with a safe space to write about your positive traits. If you are feeling down, you can look at your previous entries to remind yourself about your past accomplishments and all your strengths.
If you normally have a tough time complimenting yourself, it is often easier to practice writing positive thoughts in writing instead of speaking to them aloud.
5. It Can Inspire Your Creativity
You can dig deeper into your creative ideas by journaling. Many authors use journaling as an outlet for their creativity, jotting down different ideas while they are fresh on their mind.
In many cases, these ideas function as an early outline. You can read your journal later and build on the ideas you wrote.
Even if you do not want to turn your ideas into projects, getting the information down can improve your overall creativity, which can improve your cognitive functions.