When you were younger, did you keep a diary? There isn’t a rule that says you have to give up that habit as you get older. Journaling actually offers significant health benefits and can even help you live a longer and happier life.
As the pandemic drags on, mental health concerns continue to grow. What if you could decrease your chances of anxiety and depression without medication? You can—and all you need is a pen and paper to reap the health benefits of daily journaling.
As much as you may feel tempted, social media is not typically an appropriate place to pour out one’s problems. At worst, saying too much can reveal personal information to cybercriminals. Online trolls can produce real-life emotional angst, and you don’t want future employers to know the sordid details of your divorce or other traumatic life events.
Journaling allows you a safe and private place to vent without risking that harm. If you worry about prying fingers opening a written journal, you can invest in a secure app that keeps your thoughts private. A future colleague may ask to friend you on Facebook—but they won’t ask for your diary password.
Are you working through emotional trauma? If so, you might experience symptoms such as intense bouts of fear and apprehension, irritability and emotional reactions and an inability to concentrate that adversely impact your career and family life.
One way to manage your behavioral patterns is by identifying your triggers and using healthy coping mechanisms to avoid a meltdown. Journaling can help. When you experience something that makes you lose your cool, write about the events leading up to going ballistic.
Think back to the last time you had to make a critical decision—whether to accept a new job, or buying versus leasing a vehicle. Would it have helped to write a list of pros and cons to weigh the comparative benefits and pitfalls?
You can use your journal to work through challenging problems like these. Often, getting your thoughts on paper helps solidify your best path forward.
When was the last time you wrote a story or poem for the sheer joy of doing so? Journaling helps you free your creative side. You don’t have to worry about critics stealing your mojo—no one has to see your scribblings unless you decide they deserve an audience.
According to author Octavia E. Butler, you improve your literacy skills through the process of journaling—“You start out writing crap, thinking it’s the good stuff, and then gradually, you get better at it.” Maybe you don’t want to be the next Stephen King, but knowing how to pen a winning client proposal will fast-track you.
Have you ever tried to sleep when accompanied by racing thoughts? One way to get them out of your head is to put them down on paper. The next time you find yourself tossing and turning, reach for your bedside journal and write out what’s bothering you.
Journaling can sometimes reveal disturbing insights into your nature, but adversity is part of growth. Writing helps you become more comfortable with discomfort, a vital skill for life success. If you make it a routine, it also reinforces persistence.
Finally, when life grows chaotic, it’s natural to feel like a rudderless ship tossed about on the waves. Writing helps you create a timeline of events that can help you answer the questions, “How did I get here, and now, what do I do?”
Sometimes, you might experience a profound sense of disquiet — the cause of which you can’t quite pinpoint. Writing helps you get to the root of your distress. It lets you tune into the internal voice everyone possesses that tells them when they’re in a bad situation.
You may discover through journaling, for example, that you feel unsatisfied with your career advancement. That’s causing you to feel less productive and even dread Sunday night. Is it time to schedule a one-on-one with your supervisor to discuss your options? Over time, your journal can help you feel more optimistic about your life—and research suggests happier people live longer.
Journaling offers a ton of health benefits. Start writing down your thoughts and enjoy the perks today.