The benefits of journaling

By Marion Edwards (TheLorian)

Work. School. Homework. Practice. Sleep. Repeat.

It’s oftentimes hard to find a moment in the day to unwind from a long week of school, homework, and practice. As mental health awareness is extremely important to sustaining a healthy lifestyle for both yourself and those around you, journaling can be a great tool in this repeating cycle. 

According to “83 Benefits of Journaling for Depression, Anxiety, and Stress,” journaling is a “form of self expression that can lift and empower people to understand they’re complex feelings and find humor with it,” (Ackerman). People have insecurities, problems, and pressures that inflict their daily lives. As people seek to distract themselves with various outlets and pleasures, those pressures can affect the way they navigate through life.

Effective journaling practices can be beneficial to your mental health. “Overall, journaling/expressive writing has been found to: Boost your mood/affect; Enhance your sense of well-being; Reduce symptoms of depression before an important event (like an exam); Reduce intrusion and avoidance symptoms post-trauma; Improve your working memory (Baikie & Wilhelm, 2005),” (Ackerman). In understanding the many added benefits of journaling, it can be a great tool to add to your daily routine. 

Journaling can be done at any time of the day. Whether you want to journal before you go to bed to unload any stresses from the day or write down everything you’re feeling before the day begins it can affect your mood. Having your own sense of good well-being can not only affect you but those around you as well. Bringing negative energy to your workspace, practices, or overall environment can negatively impact the way you handle problems and those around you. Positive energy and emotions can create a better environment for you to have a more productive and successful day while also positively impacting those around you.

Ackerman also discusses that “…writing works to enhance our mental health through guiding us towards confronting previously inhibited emotions (reducing the stress from inhibition), helping us process difficult events and compose a coherent narrative about our experiences, and possibly even through repeated exposure to the negative emotions associated with traumatic memories (i.e., “extinction” of these negative emotions; Baikie & Wilhelm, 2005).” People often find themselves stuck in a place of defeat when they don’t have the proper support or outlet to reach out to.

As journaling can be an effective outlet, it’s important to find a quiet place that allows you to focus on your thoughts and feelings without distractions. Great places to relax and journal may not be where you do most of your work. Negative feelings of stress and negative pressures can be associated with areas such as your workspace or dorm room. Journaling in places associated with positive feelings and thoughts can be an effective way to have the best journaling experience.

In terms of how to journal, advancements in technology have enhanced the journaling experience past just paper and pen. Many online sites such as Penzu, journalate.com, jrnl.com, goodnightjournal.com, and onlinejournal.com, make journaling even more fun and available to use at anytime. 

Journaling can be the tool that you’ve been missing in your life to help ease stress and in learning more about yourself. Remembering that journaling can be what you make of it, trying this technique can be beneficial to your overall mental health and outlook on life.

Ackerman , Courtney. 83 Benefits of Journaling for Depression, Anxiety, and Stress. 1 Sept. 2020, positivepsychology.com/benefits-of-journaling/. 

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