Journaling. What is it, and why has it become so popular? According to Merriam-Webster, to journal is to record daily thoughts or experiences in a journal or diary; however, the art of journaling is not that simple.This leisurely activity has recently expanded into various forms: bullet, workout, dream, and food journaling, just to name a few.
With the writer openly expressing themselves through words, journaling can be a coping mechanism for many. But the real question is this: Is it actually proven to benefit your mental health? In order to find out whether that is true, it is necessary to look back at the history of journaling.
History of Journaling
It is hard to pinpoint the exact origin of journaling, but by studying human history, no matter the country or culture, it is safe to declare that people's thoughts have been recorded since the start of time.
During the 1980s, many public school systems began to integrate journaling into their English classes. Although it was mainly for documenting academic work, many teachers found that the activity had several therapeutic benefits. Since then, it was recognized as a non-medical method for wellness, and was advertised in the growing Self-Care Movement.
In 2013, the phenomenon of bullet journaling swept the Internet, which not only boosted the popularity of journaling, but also encouraged the young population to write more.
Now back to the question at hand: Are there any actual health benefits included with journaling? Of course. Journaling helps...
Journaling is a process similar to ranting (a long, angry, and impassioned speech) — except for the fact that it is written instead of spoken. By expressing any type of emotion that one may have through words, images or designs, journaling becomes less of a chore, and more of a way to write one's problems away.
To prove this, a study showed that expressive writing (journaling included) for only 15-20 minutes a day, three to five times a week spanning over the course of four months, was sufficient in lowering blood pressure and improving liver functionality.
Additionally, journaling can help one to better organize their current thoughts or problems, which could also result in the relieving of stress.
Improve Immune Functionality
Journaling, although hard to believe, helps to strengthen one's immunity and to decrease one's risk of contracting illnesses. There have been several reports from avid journalers which show that they've experienced an improved immune system and a healthier well-being
If continuously and frequently done, journaling can help to condition the brain and ensure that it is in a healthy state. In addition to boosting memory and comprehension, journaling also expands the brain's memory capacity, which may help to ameliorate cognitive processing.
Journaling is very similar to talking to a friend or family member. It is like engaging in a conversation with another individual, except without a response. Sometimes communicating with yourself and being alone with your feelings can be the only medicine necessary to cure a bad day.
Writing down experiences or emotions that are particularly personal helps to clear out fog in the brain and to reset your mental state. It creates a calm ambience that allows you to speak with your inner self and think back on your life. Leaving time to self-reflect is very important, especially in stressful, straining times.
At first, it is hard. To constantly check in with yourself and write down journal entries, I admit, is hard, but as a long-term journaler myself, I highly recommend this activity. I've been writing since about 3rd grade, and just from looking back at my entries now, I can tell that I've evolved in so many different, unimaginable ways.
I've definitely noticed positive changes in both my mental health and in my confidence levels, and it's all thanks to journaling. It is an outstanding way to relieve stress, see growth, and relax, no matter what you may be writing about.