Research has shown that journaling can improve your health! Not only that but there is a growing body of evidence supporting journaling as a therapeutic tool for wellness. Benefits include improving cognitive function, strengthening the immune system, reducing anxiety in people with Multiple Sclerosis, and more.
The act of writing improves cognitive function
In an article in Edutopia, Neurologist Judy Willis explains that the practice of writing can enhance the brain’s intake, processing, retaining, and retrieval of information. Consequently, writing boosts long-term memory, helps us to recognize patterns, and gives the brain time for reflection. Willis states that well-guided writing is a source of conceptual development and stimulates the brain’s highest cognition. In other words, writing sprouts conceptual brain networks which are valuable tools the brain uses in the highest order of thinking.
Journaling strengthens the immune system
Who would have thought that the process of writing about stressful and traumatic experiences could strengthen a person’s immunity? Turns out that when people practice expressive writing they strengthen immune cells and can decrease health issues. Expressive writing is basically automatic writing in which a person writes down their thoughts and feelings about emotionally charged events for 15 minutes a day.
This study discusses possible mechanisms that might contribute to health benefits and suggests how expressive writing can be used as a therapeutic tool.
Journaling reduces anxiety and stress in people with MS
Research studying the effect of journaling on anxiety and stress in patients with Multiple Sclerosis concluded that written emotional expression can promote well-being in people with MS. In addition, the study also demonstrated a significant difference in anxiety and stress mean scores.
Journaling can improve health and reduce symptoms in people with chronic illness
Participants in the experimental group in this study were asked to write about the most stressful experience they ever had. The assignment was to write for 20 minutes on 3 consecutive days. Participants in the control group were asked to do a time-management exercise to reduce stress. They were tasked to write about their day.
The results demonstrated that writing about emotionally traumatic and stressful life experiences improved ratings of disease severity and reduced symptoms in people with chronic illness. Furthermore, the experimental group showed improvements in objective health indicators 4 months after the writing experiment as well as significant reductions in disease activity. It should be noted that these results were later replicated.
Journaling can rewire your brain and reduce stress
A small brain imaging study by UCLA psychologists demonstrated that when you put feelings into words it can help manage negative emotional experiences and has benefits for mental and physical health. This practice reduces activity in the amygdala which is the brain’s emotional center and can reduce emotional distress.
Journal to clear your head or silence your inner critic
Writing morning pages can help to clear your head, silence your inner critic and unleash creativity. Julia Cameron, author of The Artist’s Way is the mastermind behind the daily stream of consciousness writing that has been inspiring people to write for 30 years!
The idea behind morning pages is to write three pages by hand first thing in the morning to clear your head. You don’t think about what you are writing and you don’t read what you’ve written. Basically, this means that you are transferring your thoughts onto paper so that you can move on with your day unencumbered by stressful thoughts.
Write a daily gratitude list to improve mental health
Gratitude journaling can improve mental health! Research shows that writing down what you are grateful for can help you to sleep better and significantly decrease worry. Not only that but gratitude journaling also helps to build more positive relationships, increase self-acceptance and boost self-esteem.
What is equally important is that by cultivating a gratitude journal you can increase optimism. This is because you are focusing on the positives in life. Not to mention, by writing about what makes you happy you are able to keep track of the good things in life and refer to them during difficult times. Write down three things every day that you are grateful for in your life.
Journaling can improve your health and help you cope
There are no rules for journaling. Write to explore anything from feelings, emotions, and core beliefs to more practical things like organization, goal setting, and planning. Or just vent.
Journaling can improve your health by giving you a creative and adaptive medium for self-exploration. This leads to mindset shifts and behaviors that can better support you.
Journaling can evoke memories, hidden feelings, and emotions. Having a safe space to process these experiences and problem solve reduces stress and boosts mood. This fosters resilience and prepares us to deal with adversity. A blank page can be a healing tool and learning to reframe our thoughts is a powerful coping strategy.
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