Want a cheap, quick, and powerful form of self-care? Pick up a piece of paper and a pen. Or, go to a bookstore and treat yourself to a beautiful journal. There are many benefits of journaling, and they go beyond penmanship. Regular journaling can improve your mental and physical health and help you become the best person you can be. Seriously!
This page is all about the benefits of journaling (and the studies that prove it.) The best part about journaling is that you can start today. You can start right now!
What Are the Benefits of Journaling?
- Ability to “Let Go”
- Improved Health
- Creative Expression
- Accessible, Personalized Healing and Organization
Self-Awareness: Learn Who You Are
For some people, journaling is the best (or only) form of self-reflection that they experience each day. You have to reflect on your day to write about it! Taking the time for self-reflection goes a long way. Studies show that self-reflection leads to increased self-awareness and emotional intelligence (EQ), two skills that are immensely helpful in life. Over time, increasing your self-awareness and EQ will help you solve problems, regulate your emotions, and form deeper relationships. Journaling creates the most positive domino effect you will ever experience!
Self-Efficacy: You Know You Can Do It!
Self-efficacy refers to a person’s ability to believe in themselves as it pertains to goal achievement. Guess what? Journaling improves self-efficacy! The more you write about yourself and what you are capable of, the more you will internalize these beliefs and use them to achieve your goals. You have more potential than you realize. Unlock it for yourself with journaling.
Ability to “Let Go”: Stop Stewing
Even if you do not pour your heart out onto the pages of your journal, you can still reap great benefits from journaling. Journaling offers a way to organize your thoughts, whether you are thinking about things you have to do in the future or events that took place in the past. For this reason, many CBT practitioners ask their patients to write in a journal. Writing about an event, even for just five minutes a day, encourages you to sit with and process emotions that come up regarding that event. As these emotions are released, you will find yourself feeling calmer as you face the memory of that event in the future. This strategy may not be effective for every type of traumatic event, but it is worth looking into if you see a mental health professional.
Improved Health: Better Sleep, Better Everything!
Have you ever found yourself tossing and turning at night, worrying about all the things that you have to do the next day? Journaling can help you fall asleep faster. And by falling asleep faster and enjoying a fuller night’s sleep, you can improve your physical and mental health.
What type of journaling helps you fall asleep? The answer may surprise you. In 2017, researchers compared the sleep of participants who journaled a to-do list vs. a list of tasks that had been completed earlier in the day. Which group fell asleep faster? The to-do list group!
The results of this study suggest that organizing the tasks that may be on your mind – be it your schedule for the next day, your thoughts on conflicts within your friend group, or doubts you have about yourself – can help you “put these tasks to bed” so you can sleep, too. If you find your mind racing throughout the night, try this type of journaling. Write down the list of tasks you have to do the next day. Take calm, deep breaths as you put these tasks on paper. Then, once you’re done, remind yourself that these tasks are for tomorrow. You’ll sleep peacefully in no time!
Sleep – how much we get of it, and how deeply we fall into it – has a significant effect on our mental and physical health. The longer you sleep, and the better you sleep, the better you will feel throughout the rest of your waking hours. Good sleep habits can even reduce your risk of heart disease, obesity, and a long list of other health issues. Do you need any more reasons to start journaling?
Creative Expression: Be the Main Character
If you’re new to journaling, you might be asking yourself, “what do I write about?” That’s the great thing about journaling – you choose! Some people journal by writing about their day as their thoughts come to them. Other people buy journals with prompts or questions. If you want to start journaling for just five minutes a day, consider writing three to five things that you’re grateful for!
Journaling doesn’t have to put you at the “center” of your story, but it can. There is a therapy approach called narrative therapy that you can use as the inspiration for your journals. Essentially, narrative therapy prompts you to talk about challenges or issues in your life like a story. Who are the characters involved? What is the conflict? What factors or behaviors will lead everyone to a happily ever after? Consider journaling using this therapy technique. You may find that, after a few months of journaling, you’ve written down an epic tale ready to be published!
Accountability: You Are Your Own Accountabilibuddy!
Do you remember your New Year’s Resolutions from last year? When you keep a journal, your goals for the year, month, or decade are easy to access. Consider starting each journaling session by looking back at your goals and reflecting on how close you are to achieving them. Regularly holding yourself accountable will give you a better idea of where you are in terms of what you want to achieve.
Inspiration: Go Forward As Your Best Self!
Whether you want to keep track of your days or keep track of your to-do list, journaling can inspire you to be your best self. One “prompt” for journaling is to write a letter to yourself in a year, or write a letter to the last-year version of yourself. How much have you accomplished? In what ways have you changed? How can you continue with the momentum you’ve been building, or change the direction from previous months and years? Let your imagination run wild and write to the best versions of yourself. You may find that you close your journal and feel inspired!
After a year, a few months, or even a day of journaling, you can use your new habit to inspire others! Check out the bulletjournal or the journaling subreddits for your own inspiration. Post photos of your journal or even your entries if you want to share! This habit can give you access to a community of people who intend to be in touch with their emotions and take time for healthy habits.
Accessible, Personalized Healing and Organization
One of the benefits of journaling is that you can give it to yourself again and again. Journaling requires nothing but a pen and paper. You do not have to follow any specific prompt or journal for any set amount of time each day. Choose what works for you, even if that means trying a new type of journaling every day!
There is no better time to start caring for your physical and mental health. Pick up a journal, pick up a pen, and start writing.
Quick Journal Prompts – Start Enjoying the Benefits of Journaling!
Don’t know what to write about? Answer any of the following questions:
- When do I feel most comfortable with myself?
- What dream am I not allowing myself to fulfill?
- What does my dream day look like?
- Where do I feel tension in my body, and what events could be contributing to this tension?
- How do I know I am feeling anxious? How do I know I’m feeling calm?
- What are some boundaries I can set with myself and others?
- What am I worried about? Are these worries based on facts or assumptions?
- How do I procrastinate on tasks, and how do I bring my attention back to the present moment?
- Do I need to communicate anything with my partner or my loved ones to help them understand what I’m going through? How can I tell them?
- What are three small changes I can make to my routine to become the best version of myself?
- Who can I forgive? What can I forget?
- If I were to give a friend advice on a situation I am going through, what would I tell them?
- Picture the most relaxing night in. What do you see, hear, smell, taste, and feel?
- How can you show yourself that you love yourself?
- What is taking up the most space in your brain?
- Does your internal monologue align with the pep talks you would give a friend? How can you change the way you speak to yourself?
- What needs to be done tomorrow? What needs to be done this week or this month?
- Are there any responsibilities you can let go of? What are you holding onto that you can release?
- What is the most important thing you’ve learned from a mistake?
- Are there any obstacles getting in the way of your happiness or success? How can you eliminate them?
Quotes About Writing To Help You Start Journaling
- “A journal is your completely unaltered voice.” -Lucy Dacus
- “I never wrote things down to remember; I always wrote things down so I could forget.” -Matthew McConaughey
- “I can shake off everything as I write; my sorrows disappear, my courage is reborn.” -Anne Frank
- “We write to taste life twice, in the moment and in retrospection.” -Anaïs Nin
- “I don’t journal to ‘be productive.’ I don’t do it to find great ideas or to put down prose I can later publish. The pages aren’t intended for anyone but me. It’s the most cost-effective therapy I’ve ever found.” -Tim Ferriss
- “Preserve your memories, keep them well, what you forget you can never retell.” -Louisa May Alcott
- “You can always edit a bad page. You can’t edit a blank page.” -Jodi Picoult
- “In the journal I do not just express myself more openly than I could to any person; I create myself. The journal is a vehicle for my sense of selfhood.” -Susan Sontag