Beautiful pink journal to get you exploring all of the many benefits of journaling

What You Need to Know About The Benefits of Journaling

There are so many benefits of journaling, and you don’t even have to do it daily.  Daily journaling has its benefits for sure but most of us can’t commit to that.  

Guys, I love journaling but even when I was a kid and I had all the time in the world, I didn’t journal daily.  

Well, when I was a kid I kept a diary, but the fact is I still didn’t keep a daily diary!  As a matter of fact, I would simply forget about writing for days or weeks. 

Fortunately, you don’t have to have a daily writing routine for you to reap the benefits of journaling.  There are many quick wins like better handwriting skills, which you can glean from any journaling routine.

But before we get into the meat of the post, let’s lay the ground rules about what journaling actually is.

What is Journaling?

these 4 pastel colored markers show the beauty of journaling while we talk about what is journaling

You won’t get the benefits of journaling if you are doing it all wrong.  So what exactly is journaling?  How do you keep a journal?  Simple, you just write, and not about some academic topic (although that can be a form of journaling).  

In essence, journaling is telling your journey through life.  

It can be in a certain category like journaling about your friends or foods you eat and the restaurants where you ate those foods.  There are travel journals, mood journals, book journals, and more. However, in general, when people journal they are simply writing about their thoughts on their everyday lives.  

You will see that the richest benefits of journaling come from writing in a way that expresses your emotions about the situations you encounter in life.

How to Journal Your Feelings

a girl with pale pink nail polish is writing with a felt pen in a notebook.  writing your feelings has amazing benefits.

There are life-changing benefits to journaling your feelings.  But how do you journal your feelings?  You have to first identify the things that happen to us that can cause friction and stress, maybe even mayhem. You can also write about things that make you feel good and happy about life.  The thing is to do both, don’t hide away from the difficult things.  

Just taking a few minutes to write down what’s happening can really allow you to engage your emotions about it.  But for some it can be hard to journal your feelings.  

If that’s you, you truly allow things to go deep inside. And there, you bury it, sometimes hoping it would die. 

Journaling allows you to be more self-aware of those buried things and therefore you can see problems in your thinking or the situation.  

I know, you don’t want to uncover more problems but wait…this IS a benefit for you. 

If you can see your problems more clearly you are better equipped to solve them.  Maybe you remember something you forgot, or a name comes to mind, or you discover why you said what you said.  

You can express the issue in a way that allows your brain to make connections to the end of the story from visualizing the beginning.  

There are literally tons of ways that journaling helps your brain, so let’s look at that.

What Journaling Does to the Brain

someone writing analytical charts or maps, in a cozy sweater with coffee in the distance.  Writing gives true brain benefits.

There has been lots of studies on the brain and journaling, the brain and writing, and the psychological benefits of journaling.  I will give you a bit of that but honestly, I already know from experience what journaling can do.  

For sure, it may help with depression (let me be clear – not solve, not get rid but help).  I have used journaling many times to help me with sad feelings, feelings of overwhelm, and the two periods of my life when I had true depression.  

Now, will journaling assist you? I cannot say because I’m not a doctor and I’m not giving medical advice.  I’m just noting my experience and sharing what others have studied that journaling does to the brain.

Note: If you think you are dealing with symptoms of depression, please see a medical professional right away.

What I can tell you for sure is that this study from Michigan State University gave results that expressive writing can help people process past trauma, stressful events and prepare for stressful tasks in the future.  

This 2013 study shows that emotionally writing those deep feelings actually reduced depression symptoms.  

And another study by UCLA shows how therapeutic journaling is.  Now again, you shouldn’t just rely on journaling if you think you have more than fleeting feelings of sadness (y’know the kind that subside when you pick up the phone and talk to a friend about your issues).  You should see a doctor if it’s more serious.  But journaling may be used in addition, to get your brain going in the right direction.

As a matter of fact, journaling helps me get things out of my head so I can rest.

Benefits of Journaling Before Bed

If you have trouble sleeping, journaling can help you there too.  

The benefit of writing before bed, as we already noted above, is that it helps you to worry less and bring solutions to problems you encounter during the day.  That means you can fall asleep faster.

Of course, you don’t have to journal before bed, you can also have a morning journal.  But either way, you will be a lot more relaxed and have a lot more rest for your soul.  

Spiritual Benefits of Journaling

a bible sitting on top of a journal with a pen in-between represents the spiritual benefits of journaling.

The benefits of journaling also extend to your spiritual life.  Some people say journaling is a form of mindfulness or meditation but it’s no secret that I’m a Christian. So you know I don’t believe in random meditation (or emptying meditation) but you can meditate on God’s word through journaling. 

Writing down scriptures and allowing your mind to think a level deeper than just reading the word.  Every day I write a small journal after I read my Bible and it allows me to apply what I’ve read and see connections that would quickly whisk away if I didn’t write anything.  

Another great thing that can help you by journaling is with gratitude.  Writing down a list of thankfulness, answered prayers or praises can really lift your spirit.  You will be more content and at peace about your situation.

Health Benefits of Journaling

a woman sitting on the floor barefoot with blue jeans and a sweater.

If you are still on the fence about the benefits of journaling, I’m sure these health benefits will give you all the reasons you need to start journaling today.  

We already talked about how journaling lends to your spiritual healing.  Taking these feelings of well-being and peace, lowers your overall stress. Lowered stress means that indirectly journaling will lower your blood pressure.  However, there’s more to it than this domino effect.

Expressively journaling your emotions can directly cause lowered blood pressure, according to this article published by Cambridge University Press.

We are getting into the good stuff here.  Because the physical body is so intertwined, when you talk about one area like blood pressure, you are speaking to parts of the body system that affect the immune system too. 

Yes, that means that journaling can increase your overall body’s protection through the immune system!

In this article from the American Psychological Association, there are several studies discussed that suggest that the benefits of journaling include an increase in a positive immune reaction in the body.   

But you can’t just leave it there.  

There is some evidence in these studies that journaling may not be helpful for all.  It’s best for those who take to writing (people like me), not for those who struggle with even writing 1 sentence.  And if you hate to write, don’t.  There are other helpful methods to get the same benefits.

Earlier, we talked about depression, but there are other mental health benefits to journaling as well.  According to this medically reviewed article,  journaling can help you work out traumas and other problems and gain stability in your life, purpose, and goals.

Journaling for Rest

an outdoor scene with a journal resting on a rock in the woods

One of the biggest benefits of journaling is rest.  You will be able to rest more fully by writing things down, but specifically expressing things about you and your life.  Again this idea of peace and contentment really is the drawing factor of journaling for many people.

If want to learn more read my step-by-step on how to journal for rest.

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