When’s the last time you kept a journal? If your answer is “when I was a kid,” it may be time to buy a notebook and start writing. Let’s take a look at the many health benefits you could enjoy through journaling!
What is journaling?
Journaling refers to writing down your thoughts and feelings. It is not necessarily keeping a log of your day-to-day activities. It is usually more focused on your feelings in relation to stress.
Potential health benefits of journaling
Journaling may help you:
- Clarify your thoughts and feelings, providing you with increased self-knowledge
- Manage stress, fear, or anxiety; writing down your problems can help you think about them more clearly and identify possible solutions, or just help to take your problems off your chest a little more
- Work through traumatic events by allowing you to process and release the emotions that were involved
If you want to keep more of a log than a journal, here are some ways writing can help you meet your goals:
- Increase happiness and well-being by keeping a gratitude journal, writing down people and things you’re grateful for and why you appreciate them
- If you’re working toward a health goal, try tracking your healthy behaviors—for example, if you’re trying to lose weight, you can write down the food you eat and the exercise you perform
- If you’re managing a health condition, you can keep a log of specific health symptoms that you can share with your doctor
Tips for journaling
- Try to make it a habit. Write something every day. It doesn’t matter how “good” it is—it just matters that you wrote something!
- Make it easy. Keep a pen and your journal with you so you can write whenever you feel like it.
- Make time for it. To make journaling a priority, you’ll need to make a little time for it. Luckily, you don’t necessarily need a lot of extra time–look at your schedule to see where you could carve out 5 to 10 minutes of writing time. Perhaps right after you get up, or right before bedtime? Take a few minutes at the end of lunch? If you use public transit, could you write during your commute?
- Don’t stress about it. You don’t need to worry about proper grammar or punctuation, or the quality of your handwriting, when you’re journaling.
- Keep it private. It’s best if you journal honestly, without worrying what others might think of what you’re writing. Therefore, you may wish to keep your journal for your eyes only. If you do want to show someone you trust—a friend, a counselor, or a loved one—you may want to plan to only show them select pages that you’re okay with them reading.
For Health Advocate Members
If you are a Health Advocate member with access to the Wellness Coaching program, talk to your coach about more stress management tips and ideas. Or, if you have access to the EAP+Work/Life program, give us a call—our Licensed Professional Counselors provide telephonic assistance with stress, depression, family issues, substance abuse, and more. They can also provide referrals for long-term counseling or specialized care if needed.
Source: Journaling for Mental Health by the University of Rochester Medical Center